Designed with community networks in mind, PARTNER is an organizational network analysis tool that measures and visualizes both the structure and quality of your organizational partnerships. This is key: most network mapping tools focus only on structure: who is working with who. While this is helpful, it doesn’t really provide you the information you need to create a strategy for your network. PARTNER provides metrics like trust, reliability, openness to discussion and mission-alignment, key to improving how your network functions.
Unlike traditional leadership that relies on hierarchies and clearly defined authority and power dynamics, network leadership is fluid, flexible & shared between individuals and organizations. Working in such a capacity requires a special set of skills, tools and knowledge to lead effectively. We’ve collected 5 of the top resources for those new to network leadership.
A few mantras and small gestures come to mind that might help to illuminate simple ways that individuals and organizations can embrace the network way, and in so doing unleash emergence – “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions”
What I’d like to share today are four facilitation techniques that were a hit at our fall training that you can use with your next network (or organization’s) meeting or training to foster those a-ha moments and stronger connections among your colleagues.
Like most forms of leadership, trust is the foundation of network leadership. In fact it’s particularly important for collaborative situations, where leaders usually cannot claim formal authority, and rely on voluntary agreements for resources and decision-making. When trust in a network or coalition breaks down, the network breaks down with it. Here are 5 character traits that help you become a highly trust leader, originally compiled by Stephen Covey.
Rhizomes are a great metaphor for network leadership: network leadership is about working together to make sure that people in the network are connected in way that encourages flows of resources, information and support to every part of the network. Network leadership is about noticing people or groups who are not being able to access resources and who have been marginalized by the culture of hierarchies, and encouraging them to initiate collaborative action.
The lesson here is that to be a great networker, you don’t have to be super outgoing, someone who goes to every event, the person with the biggest list of partners, friends, or colleagues. Rather, the great networkers are those that think strategically about how they build their networks and intentionally keep them as small as possible to reach the greatest number of others.