Getting Connected

Can you believe that it’s mid-December already? It seems to me that we’ve started shopping and decorating sooner this year than ever before – perhaps, that’s because we are ready for a new year! That’s certainly what I’ve been hearing recently. As I’ve been traveling throughout the country speaking on leadership and resilience these past few months, I’ve noticed a key theme that I want to share with you as you look forward to 2010.

It seems as though, through the good times and bad, the one thing that has stayed constant in our work life this year is the value of building and sustaining supportive relationships. I know we’re pretty good at making and keeping friends; but at work, we seem to forget how important it is to connect with people. We focus on getting the work done and lose sight of how others in our organization can be a source of energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and even mentoring for us. We stay contained in our own group of colleagues and don’t think about reaching out to others to build a network that can support us on a daily basis, as well as help us reach our longer-term goals.

Now, I know all the reasons why we don’t do this. I’ve heard them over and over again. People tell me there is no time in the day to reach out to others – they have too much to do or they think others will be too busy to take the time to meet and get to know them. In many cases, they can’t imagine why these people in their organization, some who are often in higher positions than they are, would want to spend 20 minutes talking to them or having lunch together. And yet, these same folks acknowledge that the best way to be successful is to have a strong and diverse network of people who can help them gain insight, leverage resources and influence others.

Now more than ever before, the focus is on building supportive networks because organizations are changing rapidly as a result of the challenging economy and competition in the marketplace. I see new executive teams form and reorganizations occur as the norm rather than as a special event. And we all know that organizations are looking for new ways to bring value by generating broader collaboration and fostering stronger cross-functional relationships.

So there are good professional reasons to network, but I also encourage you to reach out to others for purely personal reasons. I think more people (outside of your work team) need to know who you are and the value you bring to the organization. While I realize that these new connections will be able to help you make better decisions and gain the support you need, I think it’s also important to socialize yourself in order to be able to seize new opportunities as they come along. That old saying of, “it’s not what you know but who you know” is still alive and well in business today.

And I know for sure that these new relationships – people you don’t ordinarily see on a daily basis – can become a tremendous source of energy and motivation for you. By seeing the organization from a different perspective and tapping into the world of someone who has an entirely different set of goals and challenges, you’ll begin to discover what you didn’t know! That’s what continuous learning – and being a resilient leader – is all about, after all.

By building these relationships and forming these new “connections,” you will be leveraging one of the key secrets I focus on in my new bookTo lead effectively in these challenging times, resilience is an essential component of success. In the chapter on Connectedness, you’ll find 5 tips to get you started. Here’s a quick peek at what they are:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Build a broad and diverse network
  • Have a plan
  • Create your own Board of Directors
  • Be open to and curious about everyone you meet

So, as we enjoy this holiday season and look forward to the new year, may we all remember what’s really important in our lives – each other. The greatest gift we can give is ourselves and the greatest gift we can receive is the connection we have with others. This is the perfect time to reach out and let someone new into your network. Send a holiday card or a leave a voice-mail message, but most importantly, let someone know you are thinking of them and wishing them a Happy New Year.

Happy Holidays my dear friends!

Building resilience means learning, growing and leveraging your own leadership skills.  Learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s executive coaching and leadership development programs by visiting our website at www.shambaughleadership.com.

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