Information Age leaders connect people. They work from the principle that the quality of individual performance and development equals the quality of relationships people have to others in their world. This diametrically opposes the Industrial Age model based on the importance of maintaining divisions between people. In the old model, organizational hierarchies divided and subdivided people in silos. The inventions of piece work, job descriptions and controlling managers were specifically designed to prevent people from needing to interact with anyone but their boss.
In the Information Age, everyone becomes a knowledge worker. Isolation becomes the root cause of performance and development disabilities. In this world everyone becomes smarter together. Relationships rule.
In this era, effective leaders focus on building relationships within work groups and beyond. Relationship building requires a completely different set of skills and success indicators than the old model.
In the old model, the idea was that if you get everyone doing their individual best, everything will work well. That was valid to some degree in a carefully divided world where performance demanded compliance more than relationship and innovation was the domain of managers so we didn’t need the key element of creativity: relationships.
In a knowledge economy where engagement, collaboration and creativity become key, leadership focuses on relationships because relationships shape capacity for these new competencies.
Leaders who haven’t developed their relationship building skills will become increasingly irrelevant. People will continue to self-organize the relationships they know as core to their success. The leaders who will earn the most respect, have the most influence and deliver the most value will be those skilled in building relationships.
Fortunately, we now have science and practice based methodologies to support this shift. Regardless of personality type, academic training and backgrounds, gender and generation, leaders can develop their capacity as connector. It takes coached and facilitated learning and it pays off on all scales.
Organizations committed to their growth and thrivancy will do everything possible to grow leaders as connectors.