When we talk about connectivity or connected leadership, not many understand what it entirely means or what it stands to represent. The term, in the context of business and administration, implies open-mindedness, the ability to give and receive information, being in tune with others, and having the capacity of open communication.
While well-connected leaders have a thorough understanding of the systems that govern their business, they are also in tune with the interconnected systems that revolve outside their company. They are active and objective observers of surrounding events and trends, continually looking for advantages and new collaborations that will benefit their organization.
Leaders who have embraced connectivity can detect and understand seemingly unrelated happenings in the world at large and how these events will turn around and influence their organization down the line. This increased awareness enables them to make strategic decisions that will orient their companies in the right position so that they will not be taken unaware or left behind by circumstance.
To possess this market affinity, in the first place, leaders need a specific skill set. It includes self-awareness, as well as the ability to listen and communicate with ease. They exhibit humility in the workplace and always encourage their employees to express their ideas. For them, actions count far more than words and always harness their authority, not by issuing commands from up high, but through positive interactions with partners and employees.
The ultimate goal here is to build a connected organization capable of taking advantage of disruptive events and technologies, not be hindered by them.
The Five Factors that Define a Connected Organization
Five essential factors will define such an organization. These are:
A Sense of Purpose and Direction – Connected leaders, need to articulate the purpose of the organization. Employees need to be involved in this process, each expressing their opinion about the company’s existence. This purpose also needs to closely align with your customers’ expectations, meaning that they also have to play a role. Involve them by using social media, surveys, feedback, and other similar research.
Trustworthiness and Validity – Connected leaders will exhibit a strong set of values and promote fairness. Most employees will commit themselves to leaders who demonstrate and act on a real ethics code. Trust is incremental in the workplace, but some managers will sometimes avoid responsibility and pass the buck when mistakes occur. It leaves employees disillusioned, alienating them from both leadership and the organization itself. Trust needs nurturing between everyone, as well as the company and its customers.
Sharing Authority and Delegating Decision-Making – In a strict, command-and-control leadership, employees are limited in their ability to act. Whenever a new situation arises, the action is delayed, generally leading to customer dissatisfaction. But by providing your employees with the process, information, and coaching support, as well as delegating some of the decision-making to them, both customers and employees will be more engaged.
Establishing Teams – By creating teams within your organization, you will not only cut across your company’s functions but also improve productivity. Organized groups bring members together and provide them with a shared, sustained effort to achieve a common goal.
Agility – Organizations also need to be agile enough so that they can withstand a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment. Such a degree of flexibility will also nourish an atmosphere where staff members will feel more encouraged to experiment and try out different approaches.
Failure is a natural and ever-present part of agility when businesses want to stay on top of changing customer expectations and technological innovations. Agility involves taking certain calculated risks which may not always pan out. Nevertheless, this needs to be looked at as an opportunity for constant improvement, not as a deterrent that keeps companies from experimenting and becoming connected organizations.