How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 5

As we approach the end of our five-part blog series based on the research conducted by Rob Cross and Rebecca Garau from the Connected Commons, it should be fairly clear at this point that personal relationships and networks at work are critical to innovation, execution and wellbeing at work. The research project that we’ve been exploring over the past four posts, however, is just one of many studies conducted by The Connected Commons. Having spent more than 20 years mapping networks and individual performance in over 300 organizations, the insights that the researchers at The Connected Commons are able to draw based on their findings across numerous projects are even more powerful than the conclusions they’re able to draw from a single study. Based on the two decades of research, the researchers at The Connected Commons have concluded that building a diverse network across location, roles, and expertise is, in fact, only the second biggest predictor of individual performance at work. Now, this isn’t to say that building a diverse network isn’t important. I mean, we’ve spent the past few posts covering exactly why having a wide and diverse network is important. The point here is that there’s a quality that high performers embody that predicts performance even more so than the diversity and strength of their networks. The number one predictor of individual performance at work, according to The Connected Commons, is being sought by others. Contemporary wisdom tells us that the best way to build our networks is by actively reaching out to others and extending our networks. The Connected Commons tells us something different: those who...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 3

                            “You can’t think, how can I do this, how can I solve it? You have to ask, Who do I know who can do this? Where is the expertise? Who else can I bring in because they have the skill or the time or the resources? Who wants the opportunity or needs the experience?” Another critical insight that Cross and Garau’s recent research project revealed is that high performers’ ability to successfully execute a project or plan directly relies on their informal networks. Often, we hold the belief that execution is all about having the right plan, strategy, and talent to put a project into motion. Surprisingly, though, the research suggests that it’s not that simple – whether a leader fully leverages his/her network can determine whether the project is successfully executed. Let me give you an example to illustrate the idea here. Picture a highly connected leader in an organization, who regularly keeps up with her connections outside of her own company, and blocks time each week for network development. In other words, this is someone who regularly grabs lunch with a number of different people in a variety of roles in different companies, and often sends industry articles or blogs that she’s read to those in her network who would find it valuable. When her company wants to expand, taking over smaller organizations or forming partnerships with others, this leader is put in charge of managing the integration. With a solid network as a foundation, and relationships that have already been established with...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 2

“If I hadn’t bumped into Nick out of the blue that day, if he hadn’t been curious and taken interest, my project would have been just another project. Instead, it became a huge win…Literally, this fix saved us thousands of dollars every time we ran a similar process – when we scaled it, the savings were dramatic.” One of the most important insights that Cross and Garau uncovered in their recently published study is this: strong personal networks play a key role in the success of the highest performers across organizations because they produce innovative solutions and ideas. Now, you may have noticed that I phrased the above sentence in a very particular way. I could have said that “networks help produce innovative solutions and ideas”…but instead, I intentionally aimed to emphasize that it is these high performers’ networks themselves that generated the innovative ideas. Networks don’t just support innovation…networks are usually the source of innovation. When faced with major organizational challenges, such as cost reduction, leaders need innovative solutions. The traditional approach that comes to mind when we think about innovation is that a leader brainstorms and comes up with a brilliant solution to the problem, then implements it and the rest of the organization follows suit. Well, we may just be dead wrong in assuming, and perhaps expecting, that this is how innovation happens. Surprisingly, the high performers that were interviewed in this study tapped into their broad and diverse network early on to help them clarify the problem and explore solutions. They didn’t feel the need to perfect their ideas before exposing it to others –...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 1

“When asked about how the highest performers executed work effectively, how they produced innovative solutions or times when they were thriving in their career, they would quickly start to talk about the people involved. Without realizing it, they were describing their networks…” – Rob Cross and Rebecca Garau At Summit, we often run team building programs with large groups and companies that involve hundreds of participants. One question that we frequently get asked is why these companies should invest in these large programs that only span 1-2 hours, and what the return-on-investment for these programs will be. Over the years, we’ve learned that one of the most valuable outcomes of these programs is the opportunity that it provides for members of large companies to build their networks (hence, why we sometimes call them network building programs). In the corporate world of 2018, we intuitively understand the value of strong networks, but it’s often unclear how it will directly benefit a company’s bottom line. Fortunately, recent research by The Connected Commons addresses this exact issue. In a research project published less than two months ago, Rob Cross (Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College and frequent writer for the Harvard Business Review) and his colleague Rebecca Garau interviewed 160 of the most engaged and high performing leaders across 20 different well-known organizations in a variety of sectors, from financial services to life sciences. They took a deeper look into the strategies that these highest performers in these organizations used to build, maintain, and leverage their personal networks, and in the process, uncovered exactly how strong personal networks can significantly benefit the...

How to Lead Teams to Greatness

At Summit Team Building we specialize in helping organizations and leaders build high performance teams. Sometimes we work organization wide on culture, collaboration and communication, sometimes we work with individual teams to help them figure out how to bring out their best, and sometimes we work with leaders and leadership teams to help them determine how to be a great leader and builder of teams. In this blog I will focus on the development of a leader into someone that consistently builds high performance in teams and the individuals within those teams. There are 6 elements critical for a leader to focus on to build high performance. Other elements will come into play, but this is the place where it all begins. Step 1: Know how you lead. Each leader has their own personal style. It is created through a combination of their innate personality traits, past experiences, the organizational culture, and their training. Most leaders that are in touch with their own self have a pretty good idea of their style, but it is always a good idea to dig deeper through assessments, training, coaching, and reading. An assessment such as MBTI will help a leader better understand their inborn personality traits that drive so much. An Emotional Intelligence assessment will help a leader understand their strengths and some of their blind spots. Whereas the Life Style Inventory (LSI) will help them understand their default leadership style. Armed with this knowledge a leader can modify their leadership style and approach to the needs of the team. Step 2: Have a Vision of High Performance. It is hard to...

What Is The History Of Corporate Team Building

Corporate team building as we know it today has been around since just after World War 2. While there are many versions of the origin and evolution of corporate team building, this is my understanding. During WWII it was observed that the older sailors had a higher survival percentage than their younger comrades when their ship was sunk. Rational thought you place better odds on the younger and in many cases more fit sailors of surviving better than their older counterparts. This was observed not to be the case and studies were conducted to discover why. It was discovered that the greater life experience and maturity of the older sailors (perhaps this can be related to emotional intelligence) enabled them to tolerate stress, pressure, and discomfort better than the younger sailors. The military therefore crated a training program designed to give navy sailors a crash course in life experience focusing on self-awareness, self-confidence, resiliency and determination. At the end of the war this program morphed into Outward Bound and became assessable to the civilian population. Outward Bound chose to focus on youth in their developmental years with the goal of helping them to become stronger and balanced individuals that would be strong contributors to society. As time went on this approach to personal development began to be recognized by insightful and future thinking corporate trainers and they started to look for ways to adapt these Outward Bound program concepts into Corporate Team Building Programs and thus the corporate team building program was born. Being ever competitive, corporations sought out ways to enhance these corporate team building programs and started...