Leadership is an emergent property of a balanced network

This is my second recent quote from Mark Fidelman, who writes in Forbes. He has a good perspective on the integration of work and learning, and how technology is only a very small part of social business.

Investment in social business platforms and mobile solutions are great – we’re finally on the right path. But ignoring the workplace infrastructure to accommodate them will be a missed opportunity. We have to move away from the Mad Men era office, to digital workplaces that take advantage of the entire social, mobile and content being produced by an organization’s greatest asset.

Its employees.

Fidelman discusses the new role of management in the future workplace.

The new role of management is to facilitate the finding of solutions; not to dictate them. The new role of management is to facilitate “connections”, to match people with the right skills and abilities to projects where those skills are most needed. The new role of management is to remove hurdles to engagement by building approvals mechanisms into workflows. Management won’t do this alone. They will leverage new technologies that automatically introduce employees to employees, partners and suppliers in order to build relationships that help you and the organization become more effective.

Culture is an emergent property of people working together. For example, trust only emerges if knowledge is shared and diverse points of view are accepted. As networked, distributed workplaces become the norm, trust will emerge from environments that are open, transparent and diverse. As a result of improved trust, leadership will be seen for what it is; an emergent property of a balanced network ["in-balance" may be a better term for this changing state] and not some special property available to only the select few.

Network Culture

Building on my previous post - that in complex environments, loose hierarchies and strong networks are the best organizing principle – here is my view of how a transparent, diverse & open workplace should function.

Networked contributors (full-time, part-time, contractors) need to work together in a networked environment that facilitates cooperation and collaboration. This is why the narration of work  and PKM will become critical skills, as work teams ebb and flow according to need, but the network must remain connected and resilient. A key function of leaders (think servant leadership) will be to listen to and analyze what is happening. From this bird’s-eye view, those in a leadership role can help set the work context according to the changing environment and then work on building consensus.

I’ve noted before that the power of social networks, like electricity, will inevitably change almost every business model. Leaders need to understand the importance of organizational architecture. Working smarter in the future workplace starts by organizing to embrace networks, manage complexity, and build trust.

Select Your Comment Platform

15 Responses to “Leadership is an emergent property of a balanced network”

  1. Jon Husband

    I’ve noted before that the power of social networks, like electricity, will inevitably change almost every business model. Leaders need to understand the importance of organizational architecture. Working smarter in the future workplace starts by organizing to embrace networks, manage complexity, and build trust.

    Couldn’t say it better myself. You’ve distilled to the essence .. and massive scale .. of transformation yet to come. It has dramatic implications for the practice of leadership, as well as managing peoples’ activities

    Reply
  2. Ken Otter

    I think this is a good summation of your blog and very good guidance: “Working smarter in the future workplace starts by organizing to embrace networks, manage complexity, and build trust.”

    But what do you mean by “‘manage’ complexity?” That ubiquitous phrase can mean different things to different people. Knowing your familiarity with Dave Snowden’s work, I can imagine what you mean, but I would appreciate some explanation. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Luis Alberola

    Very insightful and clearly stated. The issue is that such leadership needs to be recognized and today HR team’s job (part of it) is precisely to define in advance what leadership should be. Such leaders as are defined by HR will seldom manage to build a balanced network and even though they did, they would find the other, emergent leaders more annoying than anything else.

    Reply
  4. Gordon Ross (@gordonr)

    What’s a balanced network Harold? In comparison to say an un-balanced network? Not meant to be a troll, genuinely interested in your definition / concept. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Harold Jarche

      Good question, Gordon. I would say one that is open, transparent & diverse, and still able to achieve its mission, would be a balanced network.

      “There are a key set of values that are common to successful networks: openness, diversity, and transparency … The three properties … complement each other … There is no ‘right’ formula for the mixture of these properties.” From the book, Net Work, by Patti Anklam

      Reply
  5. Ken Otter

    Thanks Harold, I did a quick perusal of the latest two posts and there is much there that conveys what you mean. I think the title “managing-in-complexity” says a great deal.

    Most people look to manage “the” complexity, in a quest to retain control over what is not controllable, but rather at best “steered.” As a surfer I can relate to this. The activity of riding waves is to be engaged at the nexus of multiple forces and energies. There is no control or mastery but instead a way of participating in something larger, which seems to be expansive for me. That is my association with managing in complexity, no illusion of control or being bigger than, but rather a participant in it, thus become more complex in our consciousness as a result. Am I understanding your meaning?

    Reply
  6. Ken Otter

    Regarding Gordon’s comment and your reply. “Balanced” implies a kind of static interaction whereas it seems to me that you are referring to a dynamic interdependent interaction among three dimensions of transparency, openness, and diversity.

    Reply
  7. Jon Husband

    I’m thinking about what balance means in the context of:

    Flows of info (questions, pointers, short discussions, asynchronous dialogue online (like active blog comments sections ;-), feedback loops, anchors and guidance buoys found in nodes and hubs and ‘knowledge friendships’. The building of various degrees of trust, learning from reflecting about conflict, synchronicity and synergy experienced in online exchange and collaboration, access to aggregations of pertinent content (for each of us depending upon our PKM and our level of involvement and participation. Focused by purpose and motivated by seeking observable and tangible results.

    And then all over again .. on and on .. ;-)

    Reply
  8. Jason Adams

    I don’t know about anyone else, but whether it was in school or in the workplace, I’ve always encountered people who I’ve thought “are terrible at leading”. Some people just naturally know how to be successful and who can lead others in the same direction. But then there are some who are awful at both. I never wanted to be the latter so I’m always looking for ways to grow personally, professionally, and as a leader to be as successful as I can. A friend lent me a book he just read called “How to Avoid the Common Failure” by Michael Horton. You can find out more on his website http://www.hortonadvantedge.com and you can pick up the book at http://www.gettothepointbooks.com. He highly recommends doing both. It’s a great reference and motivational book to really give you a push in the right direction!

    Reply
  9. Tim

    “….digital workplaces that take advantage of the entire social, mobile and content being produced by an organization’s greatest asset.

    Its employees.”

    Entire! Sounds like the soul of the business listening to the soul of the employees.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Spam Protection by WP-SpamShield