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“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 performance of these employees in their organizations. Ultimately, the effect that networks had on these high performers ended up impacting the entire organization’s success.

In their 90-minute long interviews, participants told stories of major projects, key initiatives, high profile assignments, and large scale transformations. When asked what was the secret to overcome challenges and achieved successes in these opportunities, they began to describe their networks – without realizing it. Through probing and building a timeline with each interviewee, the researchers made it clear that it was the relationships and networks around them that contributed the most to their successes…more so than their individual efforts.

The research makes it clear that among the highest performers in a wide variety of organizations, their networks are the key to their achievements and successes – even though it’s often far from obvious.

Alright, so networks are important. They’ve been saying that for decades…I get it. This is nothing new. But what I want to know now is how exactly networks support the success of these high performers.

If the above statement resonates with you, your skepticism is appreciated. Fortunately for you, Cross and Garau’s research answers this exact question. Strong networks support individual and organizational performance in three main ways: it facilitates innovation, supports project execution, and is critical to employees’ wellbeing. Over the next few posts, we’ll be dividing deep to explore the central role that networks play in these three key elements of organizational success – so stay tuned!

To learn more about Summit’s great networking and team building programs click here