The whole question of leadership is predicated on the leader’s ability to understand and work with a set of unique individuals with the objective of melding them into a successful and co-operative team.
While undeniably every one of us is unique, there is a latent desire to conform and to join with others who have the same objectives, interests and ethos as we do. We call them like minded.
It is an odd paradox; even though we claim to be, indeed are, unique individuals we still possess the herding instinct and that probably goes back in the psyche deep into the mists of time.
Just consider it; we join sports clubs, we join political parties, we join social clubs, we go to the pub, we join business peer groups and we join social media groups, among many others.
The need to congregate and to be with other people goes deeply into our very being. Primitive man and woman gathered together for mutual support. Today what we in the west patronisingly refer to as tribalism is strong in Africa, the Middle and Far East.
Why don’t we accept that that same “tribalism” is just as prevalent in so-called developed countries? It is now disguised as sectarianism and the effect is exactly the same.
The fact is that we like to have a group of similar thinking people around us although sometimes the result has been disastrous as in a succession of dictatorships across the world.
So what has this got to do with business, I hear you ask? The fact is that this tendency to gathering together has become an integral part of business life especially in the sphere of networking.
We all network in one way or another and to do it formally through organised groups is a great way to meet people. In fact, it is now suggested that the very act of networking drives the economy in a positive way.
Author and economist Paul Ormerod (http://www.paulormerod.com) in his new book, Positive Lining: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World, defines networks as: “how people, firms, things are connected to each other, and how different ways in which they are connected have different implications”.
Furthermore, he suggests that “the properties of systems as a whole emerge from the interactions of their component parts. These are systems in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts”.
Whether we realise it or not, in business we operate in a succession networks and at many different levels. On the surface, we tend to consider the network as a potential opportunity for business growth but in fact, the effect is far more wide ranging.
Input to network can be just as rewarding and business resulting from contacts simply because it is frequently a matter of “casting thy bread on the waters”. The key is not to network only to obtain direct business but to build relationships which can, in the longer term, positively affect business growth.
Some companies and many professional practices generate the majority of their business through active and indeed ferocious networking and they understand the value of making relevant contacts.
Sadly there are many who do not understand how networking can materially affect the business in a really positive way and discount it as a fad or “not for us”.
Remember the Vistage mantra: “No-one is as smart as all of us” and while this was derived originally for the concept of peer groups it applies just as effectively for building real and valuable networks of like minded people
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