One of the Leadership Competencies we suggest leaders build in our organisation in order to be successful is “networking”. Networking means to be able to build relationships across hierarchies, functions and divisions in the organization and outside to be able to be a more effective leader. We provide leaders with a software package that helps them manage networks, understand in which areas they need to build more networks (with the company or outside etc) and how often should they be reaching out to different people. Networking is often without an agenda. It’s “lets catch up for coffee because I’m in town” or “let me send you my latest article that I wrote in a magazine”. However I have noticed that either leaders take to this like a fish to water – easily, happy to build networks and thrive on building relationship that help them through their careers or there are leaders who simply cringe at the idea. These leaders think its an overburden and goes beyond the duty of work.
After understanding the SCARF model and Relatedness, I realise why there are these two different pools of leaders, who may be competent in their own way but feel differently to the concept of networking. It means that different leaders have different needs of relatedness, and as an organisation we need to understand these needs. Often times not wanting or not needing to “network” impedes a leaders career, but it now seems that there is intervention needed to help the leader meet his capacity of Relatedness and for the organization to understand the varied needs in an individual.
It will be important to probably have stages in the process of networking, to help address this issue. Stage one as a basic networking skill, how many people do you interact with within your department, Stage two could be interact within your function and Stage 3 could be interact within the company. This could be taught as a skill building process instead of such expecting people to take it up and master it since that seems dependant on the dominance of Relatedness domain in ones brain.
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.