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For better or worse… we are all extensions of the networks we have built – or the lack thereof. Those who are devoted to the intensive cultivation of the vine will prosper and grow, while those who do not, well, you can guess the outcome…

Ask any successful person which single skill has helped them to accelerate their career – an overwhelming majority will respond with one simple word… Networking.

We all know what makes the corporate world continue to expand and grow. It’s a giant social vine, with people dependent upon one another for success. Whether we like it (or care to acknowledge it) or not – we rely upon one another. We are very rarely solely responsible for our own achievements without the support and help of others.

That in mind, the single greatest skill you can develop is dynamic interdependence, which equates to NETWORKING. This is the most powerful marketing tactic you can employ to accelerate and sustain your own success! Few things will help you grow faster than a creating a strong network.

Dynamic Interdependence is about meeting people, developing contacts and exchanging information. It is about bearing fruit… and pruning, as necessary.

When cultivating vines, pruning is used to selectively remove unsuitable or extraneous shoots in your network, retaining the strong branches that are likely to bear fruit. This serves three functions:

1) to cultivate only high potential relationships for the current season of your career

2) to produce high potential contacts from which sustainable fruit can be selected for coming seasons and

3) to remove those shoots that will not grow into a valuable part of your network. You are a product of those you surround yourself with – It’s critical that you are prepared to nurture those high potential shoots, while at the same time willing to cut off those shoots you observe bearing no fruit – or worse, consistently producing bad fruit!

On the positive side, meeting and networking with the right people can lead to untold opportunities. Developing a network of dynamic interdependence translates into shared experiences, best-practices, and knowledge, culminating with shared professional development for everyone within the network! The reality is that you will not bear fruit yourself unless you remain tightly connected to the vine. The vine, your network, is the source and sustenance of your professional life – each and every shoot of your network relies on the vine in a dynamically interdependent way to survive and bear fruit.

Your pruning process will ultimately help you to bear more fruit. If there is no fruit on your vine, if there are no genuine connection points, you are in danger of falling off the vine. If you isolate yourself, you isolate your likelihood to succeed at the same time. Building a reliable network will increase your connectivity, your knowledge, your visibility, and most of all…your chance of success. Networking is about self-confidence, self-advocacy, and perhaps, self-discovery.

The old saying, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know” rings true. Statistics show that a staggering 70% of jobs are obtained through networking… Some believe that in this unstable economic climate, this statistic is considerably higher.  I see it over and over again: Many senior level individuals go far, but eventually find themselves at a loss because they just haven’t built the network they need to take them from being a respected professional… to recognized expert… to a formal leader … to a member of a Corporate or Not For Profit Board of Directors.

They have hit the proverbial “Bedrock” – their roots have stopped growing, their vine has stopped expanding… Why? Primarily because they failed to build a sustainable network – both inside of and outside of the organization!

Don’t be fooled – THE VINE IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS!

Building a Network of Dynamic Interdependence provides the most productive, most proficient and most enduring tactic to build professional relationships. To succeed you need to continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network.

Final Advice:

There are many “vines” out there…

  1. You will get out of your network only what you put into it. If you attend events and meetings on a passive level, at best your network will become a novel social forum. You risk losing the fundamental reasons why you should seek to extend your vine in the first place.
  2. Dynamic Interdependence is not about belonging to a formal group — it’s critical to network both within your work environment and outside of it (for obvious reasons).
  3. Finally, do not just hunker down and do good work and wait for the world to stop and notice (as most people do) – it just won’t happen!

The truth is, you make your own choices. As a successful businessperson, will you choose to make your way alone or seek Dynamic Interdependence?

How Will You Focus  On Extending Your Vine?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how networking has helped you to exceed your potential. Feel free to contact me at sherilmackey@gmail.com or by commenting below. Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

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Being a great leader is more than just a title – it is hard work.  It requires unprecedented levels of innovation and a commitment to the organization and its constituents, as well as the ability to continually inspire and motivate others to succeed. One key way to achieve ongoing innovation and sustainable results is through the creation of an execution culture.

You, as a leader, have an opportunity to accelerate progress in your organization through the deployment of Rapid Result Initiatives (RRI’s), which can be used to:

  • Increase current performance
  • Strengthen collaboration
  • Facilitate innovation
  • Demonstrate success in the process of executing your long term vision and mission

RRI’s are small, high-leverage, short-term projects that generate immediate impact and measurable results, while tapping into hidden capacity and building momentum to drive large-scale change – usually in 100 days or less.

Exceptional leaders understand they must calculate their steps and fully understand what they have and how to use it most effectively to continually move forward. One very beneficial way to do this is to structure your organization as a portfolio of RRI’s leading to the achievement of ultimate vision. This approach creates the opportunity to pursue strategically critical goals that deliver real impact, while  linking directly to the long term plans and objectives of the organization. Each RRI becomes a vehicle for achievement, learning, and the advancement of long term goals.

The core of Rapid Results Initiatives involves working with your teams to set and achieve small (but aggressive) goals in one or more key areas of performance. From this perspective, teams are compelled to tap into hidden reserves of capacity and energy to get the job done, taking action and testing assumptions to determine how to best achieve the desired objective on a compressed timeline. Through a succession of fast-paced, results focused initiatives, you can make remarkable gains toward major goals and objectives.

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Last week we discussed working across boundaries and implementing a systems approach. This week, I am continuing the theme with an expansion of what it means to work across boundaries and some suggestions to help you do so successfully.

Working across boundaries means many things to many people… It can mean:

… working across organizational lines

… working across supervisory or leadership levels

… working across functions

… working across corporate entities (partners, resellers, etc.)

…working across customer lines

… working across physical confines

… working across cultural differences

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Let’s talk about what it means to work Across Boundaries…. because the reality is that it can mean many things to many people.  In my world, working across boundaries is about lateral thinking… really comprehending that you are a single piece of a much larger puzzle and that your piece has a significant impact on the larger whole. It also means having the capacity to move across those boundaries to absorb knowledge from one context or discipline and apply it back into your area of expertise to create a free-flow of information – increasing your knowledge and the potential to “create a better mousetrap”. Think Leonardo DaVinci:

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Working across boundaries, more than anything else, means working together to solve problems that cannot be solved ~ or easily solved ~ by a single person, department or business unit.  It is critical that you, as a leader, consider (and learn from) the overall system and expect every person across every department to work together to figure out how to improve the overall experience for customers both internally and externally – the rest will naturally follow. The reality (whether you want to acknowledge it or not) is that you are part of a system… a network… an interconnected structure involving many people and multiple linkages.  Without each component part of the whole, there is little to offer the customer… or the market.

Despite the necessity of collaboration,  organizations are complex – engaging across boundaries can present several challenges. Because Networks are inter-organizational, cross-departmental and interpersonal, different stakeholders across that network have differing:

  • Points of view (by default)
  • objectives and missions
  • micro-cultures and perspectives
  • methods of operation – purpose, policies, procedures and systems.
  • financial models (i.e. cost centers versus profit centers)
  • degrees of power
  • challenges/opportunities
  • decision-making capacities
  • Sources of conflict within network and with the customer

Despite the challenges, continually improving organizational performance is what matters and that can only happen with collaboration across both horizontal and vertical boundaries. It is critical for your company to get everyone working together in order to “build that better mousetrap”. We all know how important it is to work effectively across organizational boundaries, however multi-functional, multi-cultural, multi-level teamwork is unnatural. The innate tendency of organizations is to optimize within a business unit or department rather than understanding that every aspect of the company is part of a living system and optimizing for the global customer experience or enterprise acceleration. Too often, the sum of the parts doesn’t create a high-performing whole. Getting people to collaborate and learn from one another across boundaries typically requires a crisis… or aggressive edicts from organizational leadership (which can also backfire if not delivered appropriately).

Suppose for a moment you are the Chief Operations Officer of a multinational company and you want to improve the experience of customers worldwide, while also reducing the cost of overall operations. Who do you need to involve in improving the process?

Product Development creates the product…

Operations produces it…

Sales sells it…

Legal reviews it and creates the contracts…

Implementation Management implements it…

Customer Relations maintains the relationship after the sale…

Finance invoices and tracks financial progress…

BUT the customer will ultimately pay for the product and decide if you are a good partner overall.

In a typical scenario, each department is a separate business with its own objectives, business practices, culture, and information systems.  However, without all the component parts coming together to deliver the product or service, there is nothing to offer the market.  As a leader facilitating people working effectively across boundaries you need to understand, accommodate and help people understand that:

  • Departments and their people have ongoing, critical inter-dependencies that require cross-boundary interactions on a regular basis
  • It is natural that every department or business unit will have both common and competing goals – they must find common ground and “third best ways” of operating for organizational and customer benefit
  • As part of an integrated workplace, your people work in an elastic environment – groups will expand and contract as needed
  • Members need to be both participative and authoritative, depending on the circumstance
  • People need to see both the forest and the trees – understanding the system as a whole is critical, but they also must consider the people and components within the system in order to be successful
  • They must balance advocacy and inquiry, again depending on circumstance

If your organization truly wants to maximize shareholder value (and be around in another 10 years), continually working across boundaries to improve organizational results and the customer experience is the answer – which will drive competitive advantage, revenue and contract viability.

With the inherent challenges  (and opportunities) that come with working across boundaries:

How can you, as a leader,  leverage a multi-functional, multi-level, multi-cultural network of people to optimize overall operations… rather than optimizing each business units objectives?

How can you create an environment that embraces  the objective of cost reduction, while at the same time “thrilling” the customer?

And how do you do this when changes to the system may create winners and losers – internally and externally?

Leonardo da Vinci once said:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

He was right. Taking action is critical to enhancing operations and elevating the customer experience. Every single BU has the capacity to see through “new eyes” and gain new perspective by working within the system, as opposed to working only within its own boundaries. Remember – Arms, Wings, Flying Machines… the possibilities are endless!

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you view working across boundaries.

Stay tuned – we will discuss the answers to these questions!

Have questions or need an expert to help you in your global organization? Contact me at SheriLMackey@gmail.com.

A separate, but inter-related key to success from last weeks post lies with YOU – the leader as a resource.  In today’s complex global business environment, the leader is the driving force and the magnet that draws people in – someone who has the ability to lead, connect, and (most importantly)  to ignite a fire within the global workforce that will result in invaluable contributions that will drive personal development and organizational success to levels never anticipated or previously dreamed of.  You are a key resource to the organization, and as such, you need to understand that how you allow yourself to be leveraged as a resource directly correlates with the success of your global teams and organization. 

How people perceive you – your words and actions – will define you across the globe. How you relate to people, from all cultures and functions, will determine to a large extent, your ability to succeed. Do people from across the wider organization see you as an inspiration?  Someone to follow, someone to believe in, someone to trust? Are you a partner? Does your global team perceive that they are a critical component to your vision and direction? Our research tells us over and over again, that people follow those they trust and those they are inspired by.

In today’s ever-changing business environment, you need to become even more than a known entity and an inspiration. You must become the social architect, constitution writer, and entrepreneur of meaning – in both thought and action. To secure global success as a leader, you must be willing to create an environment where every employee, from every culture and geography, has the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and excel. Do this and you will have, not only global business success, but the undying loyalty of your workforce (a true rarity in today’s work environment).

Many centuries ago, Lau-Tzu said, “The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ People embrace what they feel a part of –  YOU are a global resource for inspiration and inclusionary practices. YOU have the ability to do great things through your global organization, if YOU are actually maximizing ALL your resources…including yourself.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at SheriLMackey@gmail.com.  Check back next week for a new post on global leadership!

Welcome back to Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders!  I can be reasonably sure, most of you would tell me that you are efficiently managing your resources – cutting costs, increasing productivity, etc.  – all good and honorable duties respectable leaders are expected to perform. However, For the next several weeks I will be discussing resource maximization of a specific type – Human Resources… People Potential – and your ability to leverage your resources across the organization and across the globe for all-encompassing  corporate and interpersonal success.

 

Many of us like to believe that, with a good plan, we can direct an action, change a process, standardize the business, etc., but if that is all you are focused on, your likely percentage of success is very low.  The reality of any business situation is that you need people to DO something in order for your plan/action/change/etc. to succeed.  How, in a globally dispersed environment, you inspire employees to bring their talents, initiative, imagination, and passion to work every day is the very delineation between success and failure.  It may seem like a lofty concept, but it is absolutely essential to your long-term success – first and foremost, never forget PEOPLE are absolutely essential to your success. Continue Reading…