"The Rise of the Network Leader", a new report by the CEB, contains a few nuggets that have value for every current and future leader (yes, that could be you). Times are changing fast and leaders must learn to navigate those highly promising times.
The report says that ever more is expected of senior leaders - more responsibility, broader objectives, faster results and roles that are more and more global. Where at first glance this sounds like a burn-out waiting to happen, all it really means is thinking broader, more encompassing, more networked. Today we have amazing technological capabilities - we have Ourspace, an internal network that allows us to network everything and everyone, to engage real-time, anytime, to foster, to help. This is where the new type of leadership comes in - they don't have to do it all - but they do have to enable, support, encourage and live it - the more employees see their leaders active this way - the more employees will follow their example, eager and willing to help beyond their desk and eager and willing to look (and find) those who allow them to perform even better.
Traditional leadership is what's called "transactional" and "transformational". Those are the roles you'd expect - organization, direction, strategy, execution, fostering culture, driving change, inspiring. To enable and foster the networked organization, leaders need to take on that third role - the network leadership. This is the one I most clearly see and most strongly identify with - the role that, in many ways, is identical to the one every employee should play - do your best work, help others to do their best work, and whenever possible do so openly and transparently is this builds and grows the networks and makes our company smarter and smarter ("Smarter together" IS our new mantra, after all). Across the company we are the ones responsible to make it all happen - and our leaders need to be the role models.
I'll quote one line from the report. I cannot just attach the report, it wouldn't be proper. But if anyone is interested, just visit here, sign up and get the PDF or read the eBook right there. Here's the line:
Network leadership is more about influence than control; it is also a more indirect than direct form of leadership, requiring leaders to create a work environment based on autonomy, empowerment, trust, sharing, and collaboration.
As more and more millenials join the workforce and as connectivity becomes ever more pervasive - this third leadership type will become essential - I believe that, over time, this will become the most important type. But don't sit around to find out what happens. Be it. Be that leader you want to have - build your network, work your hardest, help others, always. And with it your influence will grow - before you know it, you'll be that leader.