Creating Agile Organizations for People, Performance and Profit
Much has been written about the empowered consumer and the need for organizations to structure their businesses around customers’ needs. In The Connected Leader, Emmanuel Gobillot, director of the international consultancy Hay Group, makes the case for organizations to identify their “real” selves. While a formal organization is structured and process-bound, a real organization, writes Gobillot, is “the system of informal relationships that enable all organizations to function.” This, he postulates, is the type of organization that connects to the new “people economy,” and that a connected leader must lead.
A Moral Imperative
The author makes a strong case early on that the connected leader needs high moral standards — a refreshing notion in an era of corporate scandal. He writes that a connected leader exerts his or her moral authority through “elements of credibility” that are valued by followers because of their desire for honest, useful, warm, reciprocal and easy-to-maintain relationships.
Gobillot contrasts the traditional leadership model with connected leadership by suggesting that connected leaders achieve their power and impact through moral and social means. Instead of exerting power over people, they help people grow.
Connected Leadership Levers
Gobillot offers specific examples of the three levers of connected leadership: trust, meaning and dialogue. To truly connect with others, he writes, a leader must become a “trusted channel.” This means the leader becomes a conduit of information that facilitates others’ effectiveness. The connected leader also exerts “thoughtful influence.” Rather than making pronouncements, the leader prepares to make a contribution, recognizes the impact of his or her approach on others, demonstrates sensitivity to others’ feelings and builds support for his or her case.
When it comes to meaning, connected leaders engage others in co-creating shared meaning so that an individual’s vision and the organization’s objective can be aligned. Gobillot asserts that connected leaders “refuse to acknowledge the ‘formal’ boundaries as limits to dialogue.” Instead, they encourage others to speak out and they themselves offer unsolicited feedback, advice and criticism. This is not done randomly, however, since connected leaders are methodical and well organized. They are also tenacious. They keep people focused on a goal and yet are flexible in how that goal is achieved. Connected leaders do not get easily frustrated — they are satisfied with incremental steps toward success, Gobillot writes.
Traditional leaders are evangelists who often find that dialogue is a one-way exercise. Connected leaders, however, substitute storytelling for evangelism. Gobillot explains that connected leaders incorporate what others have to say into their own approach. They admit their shortcomings and seek support from experts. Connected leaders are enduringly passionate and they understand that dialogue is the key to connecting with others.
How to Develop Connected Leadership
A leader who wants to become connected will first recognize that a real organization is not bound by formal rules and will identify the gap between formal objectives and the real organization. Connected leaders must next assess their credibility with others. This credibility is the result of how well they manage relationships. Connected leaders must also be capable of analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. Rather than completely changing their style, connected leaders should find a way to build on their strengths. And connected leaders need to understand the opportunities they have for development, and create opportunities to engage in relationships. Finally Gobillot adds, “Do not forget to be yourself.”
Why We Like This Book
The Connected Leader explores the relationship between people, organizations and leaders. The author creates a sense of urgency about the necessity to identify the “real” organization beneath the surface. He details the need for leaders to form relationships, lead with empathy and inclusiveness, and become connected to people. While the author’s prose can be challenging, he provides numerous aids, such as “30-second recaps” and “leadership take-aways” at the end of each chapter, along with diagnostic questions, scales and charts designed to point leaders in the right direction.