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How Leaders Create and Use Networks

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How Leaders Create and Use Networks

Successful leaders have a knack for knowing whom to tap to get things done. We call this networking. Networking is the process of establishing a group of contacts who can help you in your career. Yet many leaders avoid networking. Some think they don't have time for it while others disdain it as manipulative. Based on a close study of 30 emerging leaders, Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunters article, "How Leaders Create and Use Networks", recommend building three types of networks to succeed as a leader. The three distinct but interdependent forms of networking are operational, personal, and strategic. Operational networking helps them manage current internal responsibilities. Personal networking boosts their personal development. Strategic networking makes them look at new business directions and the stakeholders they need to enlist.

Operational Networking is the first form of networking Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter list. "All managers need to build good working relationships with the people who can help them do their jobs." (pg. 107) Operational networks include not only direct reports and superiors but also peers within an operational unit. They also include other internal stakeholders who can block or support a project, and key outsiders such as suppliers, distributors and customers. Operational networking helps ensure coordination and cooperation among people who must come together to accomplish their immediate tasks. While not always easy, it is relatively straightforward, because the task provides focus and a clear criterion for membership in the network.

Operational networks are usually geared toward meeting objectives as assigned. Managers do not exercise much personal choice in assembling operational relationships, because these relationships are largely prescribed by the job and organizational structure. Thus, most operational networking occurs within an organization, and ties are determined largely by routine, short-term demands.

“As a manager moves into a leadership role, his or her network must reorient itself externally and toward the future”. (pg. 108) In other words, manager having a future-oriented profession by its nature, must always think several steps forward to fulfill his/her tasks with the highest success. Therefore, manager's personal wide network of people from different occupational fields plays a crucial role in achieving the decent results in leadership positions.

The second form of networking researched in the article is Personal Networking. The structure of it is opposite to the operational network, due to contacts involved in its functioning. Personal network consists of external contacts mainly. 'Once aspiring leaders become aware of the dangers of an excessively internal focus, they begin to seek kindred spirits outside their organizations." (pg. 108) These are random people with different interests and distinct fields of occupation. At the same time, they become aware of the limitations of their social skills. They also realize that they lack knowledge about professional domains beyond their own. "Through professional associations, alumni groups, clubs, and communities of interest, managers gain new perspectives that allow them to advance in their careers." (pg. 108) Important characteristic of it is the future potential interests, thus, the creates the relationships for his/her future needs.

Personal networks are largely external, made up of discretionary links to people with whom we have something in common. Our personal contacts are valuable to the extent that they help us reach quickly and efficiently a far-off person who has the information we need. A personal network has great referral potential.

The third and last network form discussed by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter is a Strategic Network. What is specific to this creation is that it serves towards future challenging tasks and evolving priorities. "When managers begin the delicate transition from functional manager to business leader, they must start thinking more strategically." (pg. 109) When people gather around



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