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When high-potential clients are promoted into a greater role or join a new organization, we spend some time evaluating their network to ensure they have established several critical relationships for career survival. There is a lot of research out there that underlines the strength and value of your network. One of the reasons leaders tend to struggle during transition is because they are unable to create new supportive networks. In fact, research conducted by the Executive Leadership Council, revealed that African-American women face serious challenges in their climb up the corporate ladder; and 31% of surveyed executives attribute their challenges to weaker or less strategic networks.
As leaders, it is important to take stock of who is in your circle, who is supporting you and who is advocating for you when you are not in the room.
Does your professional network include the following individuals?
1. An internal adviser/mentor: Someone who can share their perspective on the politics and guide you on how to manage the politics so you can move your ideas and initiatives forward. They can be a peer, manager or direct report, as long as they have a solid understanding of the political landscape and the key players you interact with. This relationship can also help to reinforce your understanding of the corporate culture, how decisions are made, assumptions that govern operations as well as decode many things that are left unsaid in companies.
2. An internal advocate: This person keeps an eye out for you and is invested in your development as much as their own. Your advocate is the person who will consistently promote your ideas, recommendations and achievements with others, and is comfortable letting you shine. These individuals can be hard to find; sometimes they may be your direct manager, if you are lucky, the overall manager of your business unit, a c-level executive or board member. The key here is not to limit the number of advocates. Consider two 0r three advocates to protect yourself from sudden departures.
3. An external adviser or mentor: This individual is someone outside of your company, maybe a former manager, mentor or someone who you are who can provide an external, unbiased perspective and share insights about macro trends and best practices.
Your external adviser, will help you push through uncomfortable experiences, challenge you, as well as help you to see new possibilities or opportunities. You want someone who is not going to hold their tongue when you are clearly in the wrong, who will go the extra mile to help you figure out how to course correct and encourage you to try different strategies.
It goes without saying, that all of these relationships are grounded in trust and are mutually beneficial. You should be clear on what you have to offer and how you are going to invest in your relationships. Additionally, your relationships are fueled by follow-through and accountability and you will often have to drive these. Finally, be sure to diversify your relationships, in terms of gender, ethnicity, thought leadership, industry, function and level.
#Soundoff Have you cultivated these 3 relationships at a minimum? Which other critical relationships have or do you need to foster? Follow me on Twitter @mawuku, and share your comments below.