As a leader, the one thing that is crucial to your success is having a strong support network. Many people feel that they have to do everything to be at the top of their game but in fact, the opposite is true. By creating a strong support network around you, it allows you to ensure that your success remains on track without you spreading yourself too thin and achieving less than your best.
The reality is that to succeed in your role you must have a strong network of people around you. Whether they be family, friends, employees, employers, clients, suppliers – whatever their role, they need to have the same vision as you, the same understanding of where you are headed and the support you need to achieve those goals.
Types of networks
As a leader, you will need to build more than one network. An article in the Harvard Business Review puts the figure at 3, and classifies them as Operational, Strategic and Personal. This makes complete sense.
Operational networking focuses on getting the work done, so your network will be built from the people you work with.
Strategic networking focuses on organisational development, and your personal and organisational goals. Your network will be made up of stakeholders and influential people in your industry.
Personal networking covers your own personal and professional development. Your network will include coaches, mentors, friends and even colleagues.
As you can see, each form of networking has its own function and focus, but sometimes even experienced leaders make the mistake of building one network to cover everything. While members of one network might also belong to another, it’s important that you populate your networks with people who can properly support and guide you.
Take a look at your current networks. Do you have support across these three key areas? If not, it’s time to start looking for the right people to start networking with.
Working with your networks
Be clear and concise with those in your network. Let them know what support you need. If you don’t ask, how will they know? Tell them if you have deadlines to meet. Share your successes and failures with them. Ask for advice, referrals or introductions when you need them. Ultimately, clear communication is what is needed to allow you to perform well in your role as leader.
By ensuring that those in your network are all working with the same mindset and goals, it means you have someone else to shoulder some of the burden, and when you share the burden it suddenly becomes a lot easier to deal with. Being a leader can be one of the most stressful and tiring roles you will ever have, but it will be a lot easier when you have a strong support network in place.
Do you have strong support networks in place? I’d love you to share your experiences with me. Please leave me a comment telling me how you found the right people to network with and what difference it has made to you and your career.