Why is it that two teams, whose individual players have similar abilities, can perform so differently?
...because performance depends not only on the quality of the single players but on the network of relationships and interactions between them. The same is true for any team, organisation or business.
Left to their own devices networks develop naturally through human inclinations to associate with people who are like us and/or near us. While strengthening these bonds contributes to team efficiency, it can inhibit communication with other groups and lead to a lack of effectiveness.
In other words, closely bonded teams often do things right, but not always the right things. For best practice to be shared and innovation to flourish some of the most important ties are those that cut across groups: traversing teams, functions and departments. The key is to get a balance between both.
The purpose of The Guide to Leading Your Network is to help identify and make the most of the informal networks that inevitably exist within all teams and organisations, in order to get things done. Not only will it help you become a better leader and manager of your own team, it will also help make you a better network leader, able to work across team and departmental boundaries.
Effective informal networks facilitate the exchange of accurate information about who does what, who knows what, and who needs what, in order to enable greater productivity. But equally, they also assist the exchange of ideas that can feed innovation.
An understanding of networks helps team leaders to do this. Identifying tribes, cliques, silos and other gaps in connectivity, which, when dealt with successfully, can improve productivity and responsiveness, smooth channels of communication, and spur change and innovation.
This understanding begins with four keys concepts: mapping, weaving, building and leading. These are the subject of this workbook and are unlocked, in the first instance, by four fundamental questions:
1. Mapping - How well do you know your network?
2. Weaving - How well do you connect others to achieve your collective aims and objectives?
3. Building - How can you add value to your network?
4. Leading - How good are you at aligning your team with the rest of the organisation?
The workbook focuses on team networks, but the concepts and questions can be used to analyse any network: your team, your department or your organisation.
And what is true internally also applies externally. Uncovering networks within industry sectors, stakeholder groups, and supply chains operates on the same principles: identifying and then connecting individuals, teams, groups and institutions in order to facilitate the exchange of resources, skills and knowledge, between those who have with those who need.
This guide is designed for experienced and first time, or aspiring, leader-managers. It can be used for individual reflection and development, and in facilitated group workshops.
It will help manage effective informal networks that facilitate the exchange of accurate information about who does what, who knows what, and who needs what, in order to enable greater productivity. But equally, they also assist the exchange of ideas that can feed innovation.
Visualizing and analysing these informal social networks will help you to:
• Better target scarce resources.
• Challenge the silo mentality.
• Restructure the formal organisation to complement the informal.
• ‘Rewire’ faulty networks to achieve goals.
• Deepen the quality of relationships among your team.
• Reduce transactional costs (e.g. micro-managing and second guessing) by deepening trust.
• Be more innovative.