By Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., Vice President, Global Research and Development, Wilson Learning Worldwide
Managing and leading in today’s organizations is growing more difficult. More products are coming to market faster, partnerships among companies in different industries are increasing, global expansion has created huge multinational companies, and trends toward matrix management and cross-functional teams are accelerating.
All of this makes communication more important, and your people’s—especially your leaders’—interpersonal networks are vital to organizational success. Technology-based communications systems will only take you so far; ultimately it comes down to the development of trusting relationships among colleagues.
Networking Supports Success
Research indicates that successful managers spend 70 percent more time networking than their less successful counterparts, and that people with rich social networks are better informed, more creative, more efficient, and better problem-solvers than those with limited social networks. Why does networking make leaders more successful? Effective networkers can access the people, information, and resources they need to identify problems and potential solutions and get things done. By having a trusted set of advisors and advocates, effective networkers make better decisions faster and are more likely to have support for their ideas and plans.
Your leaders’ skills at creating effective interpersonal networks will have a significant impact on your organization’s success. Yet studies show that most managers are not comfortable developing their network of relationships. In fact, research at the Stanford Shyness Institute suggests that almost 60 percent of young adults have difficulty in social settings. Given that business networking is positively associated with salary growth, number of promotions, perceived career success, and job satisfaction, this finding is troubling. Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon, leading experts in networking skills, have boiled the research down to eight critical skills needed for effective social networking.
8 Critical Networking Skills:
These eight skills reflect a comprehensive body of knowledge that gives leaders the skills they need to immediately begin to build organizational and personal success. For individual leaders, effective networking can lead to faster salary growth, more promotions, and greater career success. Organizations can achieve better performance, have more effective employees, and bring products to market faster if they devote time and effort to building effective networking skills.
Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., is vice president of Global Research and Design for Wilson Learning Worldwide. With more than 25 years in the field, Dr. Leimbach provides leadership for researching and designing Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities. Dr. Leimbach has managed major research studies in sales, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. He has developed Wilson Learning’s Impact Evaluation capability and return on investment models. Dr. Leimbach has served as a research consultant for a wide variety of global client organizations; is on the editorial board for the ADHR professional journal; and serves in a leadership role for the ISO technical committee, TC232: Standards for Learning Service Providers; and has co-authored four books. To learn more about the concepts shared within this article and how Wilson Learning can assist you in addressing these issues, contact Wilson Learning at 800.328.7937 or visit www.wilsonlearning-americas.com.