The imperfect leader needs to relate

In the Belgian business magazine Bizz of April 2007 there is an article from the Harvard Business Review featured about the “imperfect leader”.

In the article the authors (Ancona, Malone, Orlikowski and Senge) write that too many managers are stressed out because they want to be a perfect leader and forget that they are people with strengths and weaknesses.

There is a difference between an incomplete and an incompetent leader. Incomplete leaders know what their strengths and weaknesses are and how to cooperate with others to compensate for the skills or knowledge they lack.

According to the authors incomplete leadership consists of 4 skills:
1) Sensemaking: understanding the context of the organisation and its employees
2) Relating: building relationships within a company and between companies
3) Visioning: creating an appealing image of the future
4) Inventing: develop new methods to realize the vision

You are probably not surprised that I’m especially interested in the second skill: relating 😉

Still according to the authors there are 3 ways to establish relationships of trust:
1) inquiring: listening to others to really understand them
2) advocating: explaining to others how you came to a conclusion or a solution
3) connecting: developing a network of trusted people who can contribute in the thinking process about complex problems or who can support specific initiatives

Although I’m very happy about the importance the authors give to building relationships, I miss a very crucial aspect in the (translated and maybe also shortened) article: how create such relationships.

Of course listening to others is already a very good first step. The other steps and practical tips in the article only speak about what’s in it for the incomplete manager himself. Nothing is written about the other parties.

So let me add a tip: look what you can offer to other people. In many occasions this is very hard because we don’t know what other people are looking for. But there is a very simple solution to that: ASK your network how you can help them.

This seems very obvious, but do you really do this? Just think about it for a second. And then take action: start asking your network how you can help them!

Have a great networking day !

Jan

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