Leadership role entails more than just assigning duties to followers. Leaders should establish good relationships with the employees motivate them and create efficient communication channels to enhance the flow of information at any level in an organization thus leading to increased performance. Leaders possess various skills including social skills that enable them to incorporate emotional intelligence in every activity thus promotes understanding in an organization (Ibarra & Hunter). Some leaders may have high emotional intelligence than others, but it is possible to learn even though they have to be committed to learning emotional intelligence as well as learn to appreciate the time spent and the challenges that come throughout the process of learning. Leaders who aim to become successful in their work must have strategic networking skills. They are therefore able to identify opportunities utilize the ones that will eventually lead to the success of the organization. Networking is, therefore, an integral part of the organization’s success.
How leaders can create and utilize Networks
Often some leaders fail to explore current opportunities to increase their understanding of the organization. They become too comfortable with the existing operations that they even consider networking to be a waste of time and other resources. The role of managers entails technical approaches to ensuring that the organization achieves its set objectives. However, some need might arise within the organization and networking could be the only solution to minimize the possible threats to the company. It is common that most organizations will have clear roles and responsibilities outlined to every staff. However, it is possible that they will always tend to concentrate on the specific task and not explore other opportunities that could lead to the success of the organization (Ibarra & Hunter). Leaders need to understand that the success of business also depends on how they relate with the relevant stakeholders who are great influencers of the company. Networking is significant in organizations as it not only provides support to the management but also instant feedback to crucial issues and various approaches to handling different issues. Networking also provides valuable resources to an organization and information that could be useful for purposes of decision making. Leaders must, therefore, understand that networking is an integral part of their leadership roles.
Forms of Networking
There are three different forms of networking, but they are all interdependent and help leaders in their transition. These forms of networking include; operational networking which enables the leaders to manage their internal responsibilities, personal networking that enhances the personal development of leaders and strategic networking that would allow leaders to identify opportunities as well as the stakeholders to enlist (Ibarra & Hunter). It is essential that leaders strive to promote growth and development in every aspect of their personal and professional growth thus integrate every aspect of the three forms of networking into their development plan.
Managers need the help of other people to perform their roles effectively. They must, therefore, learn how to create productive networking relationships with other staff members. The managers need the internal support of their superiors and their peers in the same operational unit. The external support could come from the customers, suppliers, and distributors. Managers must ensure that they maintain a good relationship with all these groups as they contribute to the success of the organization. For instance, the employees are the essential resource in an organization, when the managers motivate them. They quickly build trust and communicate regularly with the manager. It is therefore easy for the manager to address employee’s complaints at the correct time and ensure there is an efficient flow of activities.
On the other hand, when employees feel they are not part of the organization’s activities and tend to have low performance. Maintaining a good relationship with the suppliers also facilitate the continuous flow of the operation. Therefore, the organization does not experience downtime that could result in the delayed distribution of goods to customers thus leading to losses. Despite the existence of functional relationships between the manager and the relevant groups, overreliance on operational networking could risk the general outcome of the performance in an organization (Ibarra & Hunter). The managers may work towards the assigned objectives instead of focusing on the most critical issue to address depending on the changing needs to address. Managers should take charge of the operations and make strategic decisions where possible. However, they may fail to make personal choices even if they are to help the organization for fear of compromising the diverse opinion of other groups. The overall result is the reduced performance level of the managers as well as the staff since they will not have a unified and efficient direction. Operational networking is suitable for short term goals
Leaders tend to focus heavily on internal operations, and they forget about internal aspect development. They tend to socialize more with people in their profession. The leaders tend to have limited socials skills, and they lack general knowledge that is beyond their progress. They find it difficult to relate with other people who are not in their circles of work. However, the managers can still overcome these challenges by attending the professional association which they get the opportunity to meet with people from different professions and share ideas and the challenges they face in their daily operations. Managers can also attend groups of personal interest to enable them to identify new perspectives that they can utilize for career advancement.
Spending time participating in activities that do not relate to one’s profession has proved to be of significant value for the managers and the organization in general. Besides, the manager gain contacts who act as referrals and within no time there could be increased sales due to a broad customer base. They could also serve as a source of information as they might know the current trends in the market thus give the manager the idea on which market to focus on for the organization to become competitive (Ibarra & Hunter). Organizations encourage personal networking by arranging for team bonding activities between different organizations to enable the managers and other staff members to interact at the individual level and share ideas on issues relating to general aspects of life. The activities also give them the opportunity to realize their strengths and weaknesses thus understand areas in which they need to make improvements.
Personal Networking also provides managers with the opportunity for personal development. It acts as a foundation for strategic networking. Once the managers can identify their competitive areas and the areas that need improvement, they can make strategic decisions that positively impact the organization. Personal networking alone is however not an assurance that the organization will be successful. The managers might have identified areas of opportunity, have gained new skills and knowledge but they still need to incorporate the finding into the organizational strategy. Managers may develop a plan on how to strategically achieve the set goals based on their relationships with the various stakeholders and personal competency level.
Managers must understand that as they transition from their role of functional managers to becoming business leaders, they should look at the broad perspective of the strategic issues in an organization. They become not only interested in fulfilling personal goals but also organizational goals. Many activities go on in an organization, and they involve a diverse group of people thus the need for the managers to understand how best they can form vertical and lateral relationships with the business unit and the functional managers in the organization to ensure everything runs as anticipated. Managers should also consider external relations as they also contribute to the success of the organization. Managers must formulate business objectives instead of functional objectives if they want to efficiently manage a diverse group of individuals with different opinions and background knowledge on how to achieve organizational goals. It is common that managers in the small, medium or large organization do not only set goals for the organization, but they have to conduct thorough planning of activities. They also determine the priority of the set goals and develop a strategic plan on how they will achieve the goals.
It is important to note that a diverse workforce with different cultural backgrounds will tend to influence the goals of an organization. However, require the skills and knowledge of the manager to ensure that there is a common business goal set and that every opinion is taken into consideration and they conduct a thorough evaluation plan to determine the priority of the goals as well as the specific ones that they can integrate and achieve at the same time. They have to keep in mind that employees need to be part of some strategic decision to enable the staff and managers to work towards achieving the set goals (Ibarra & Hunter). Organizations, therefore, encourage the employees to address their concerns on the issues that affect their performance in an organization. During the strategic implementation, the managers can consequently, consider the employee’s need before making the final decision that perhaps aim to increase productivity but at the expense of the employees’ welfare.
The managers also need to identify the best approach to allocate resources to various activities depending on the organizational resource capabilities. A manager must focus on achieving the best results with the least resources. Time, capital and human resource area significant resources in most areas of production, therefore, it will be inefficient if the manager allocates more time and employees to an activity that would have been done within the shortest time possible. Even if the allocated time and other resource are more than enough and there is surplus upon completion of the task, the manager should identify the available resources and use for the remaining resources to complete other tasks. There should be no wastage of any support as they are all valuable.
It is essential to note the difference between a leader and a manager since leadership goes beyond planning and implementing strategies. Leaders have a role in ensuring the organization establishes and remain in constant contact with the stakeholders, form alliances with other organization and identify the political issues that could affect business performance. Leaders should realize that it is not only the internal factors that affect the organizational outcomes but also the external factors and that includes the political issues. Some managers tend to believe that they lack the opportunity to advance ion personal goals, but leaders are aggressive to grasp every available opportunity and use it for the benefit of the organization. For example, if the organization was to face an increased threat of competitors, leaders do not strategize on how to overcome the challenge and leave not implement it. They go ahead to find the possible solutions, the impacts of the proposed resolution on the employees and the organization as well as the resource capability of the organization. If everything proves to be efficient, then leaders implement the action and carefully monitor it such that in case of any need to make changes, they can address the arising issues immediately.
An excellent strategic network is one that leads to the creation of both internal and external links. A unique strategic network enables leaders to obtain information from either the internal or external sources and use the available information for the improvement of the other. For instance, customers may provide their feedback on a specific product. The reviews may be positive or negative. The management should, therefore, use the information to improve the quality of the product or avail it in many distribution stores for easy access by the customers. In the end, the management will have implemented various production strategies to enhance quality thus improving performance and quality simultaneously. On the other hand, the employees could have issues regarding a specific change in an organization. They can communicate to the management about their concerns, and the information could be valuable as it will enable the management to react to the issues before implementing any change that could affect the productivity of employees and which will eventually translate to reduced sales and failure of the organization.
Despite the significant benefits of strategic networking, emerging leaders still find it to be challenging. They devote most of their time and efforts in operational networking as they remain focused to meet the set organizational goals. They want every member to work towards achieving the set goals hence would want to establish good relationships for smooth operations. It becomes even more challenging when the emerging managers completely forget about strategic networking yet they will at some point need the support of the external contacts to work towards achieving the organizational goals. For instance, there might be reduced levels of customer satisfaction in an organization. The manager will thus depend on the information from the customers to strategize on how to implement changes in the customer care department to enhance the quality of services (Ibarra & Hunter). However, without this knowledge, the manager might addr4ess a different issue that does not contribute to low customer satisfaction thus leaving many problems unsolved. Managers should continue to develop the operational network into strategic networking.
For example, once the manager has identified ways of connecting with their colleagues or senior management, they can use the information they have to solve disputes that arise in any department within the organization since they understand the needs of each department. They can also engage in more activities outside their daily operations and learn new ideas. They can identify their strengths and weaknesses and incorporate them in handling the employees for the success of the organization. Upon understanding the internal needs and how to relate with the external environment, the manager can then strategize on how to integrate various aspects into the development of strategies that will lead to the success of the organization. Transitioning from one form of networking will not only benefit the organization but the management will also gain new information about their competency level, and the employees will become motivated as they are part of the success and would strive to improve their performance for personal benefits as well as contributing to organization’s success.
Generally, successful leaders need to understand how they can create and use the various forms of network. One may not initially understand, but the processing of becoming a successful leader requires time and commitment. Leaders have to learn from making organizational goals to finally making business goals (Ibarra & Hunter). They should learn how to shift from the necessary operations to be able to identify existing opportunities and grasp them for the benefit of the organization. Before the implementation of various strategies, leaders must also determine the organizational resources capability and align them to the business objectives thus allocate the resources in the most efficient way possible. The overall outcome of successful leaders is, therefore, improved performance, which results in enhanced quality of products and services and increased customer satisfaction thus the success of the organization.
Ibarra, H., & Hunter, M. How Leaders Create and Use Networks.