Small business leaders need to understand diversity in order to be connected and create opportunities for success
The model of how to effectively navigate business leadership is changing. For decades stability and homogeneity were hallmarks of business across the US. But today’s business landscape is comprised of diversity and fluidity requiring shifts in the traditional ways a leader builds and sustains business success.
As a small business owner it is vital to understand the type of leadership you need to embrace to navigate this new dynamic business landscape. Transition, transformation, change are becoming key leadership traits for businesses who want to succeed. The businesses that can be dynamic and fluidly navigate a change in the market, the emergency of a new disruptive innovation, the changing face of customers from Baby Boomers to Millennials and from local to global and local again are the businesses who adapt to fight another day.
A small business leaderhunkered down with a single minded focus is in danger of steering the boat right into trouble and not around it. Determination and focus are still highly desirable trait in business leadership but the leader who wants to succeed is the leader who knows how to make the right connections in a changing world.
The Future of Business Is Connectivity
We have long known that there are business advantages to being social connected. One of the world’s top network scientists (people network not IT network), Ron Burt, aassociate professor at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce, has demonstrated that successful careers belong to those who have mastered the ability to build and cultivate multiple clusters of networks.
In the old business landscape being part of one homogeneous network enabled you to take a shot at standing out and take the lead. Today very rarely is membership in one cluster enough. Today for a business to succeed standing out includes being able to fit into multiple clusters of people
We are all familiar with the value of being able to network with others. If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers: Stories of Success’ you might recall reading about highly successful people who knew how to network extensively within a cluster. For a long time networking within the right cluster was an effective way to get access to many of the opportunities one needed to build a career or a business.
These clusters could vary depending on who you were but they were frequently comprised of a generally homogeneous cultural, political and demographic group of people whose membership was fairly stable. If you could position yourself within a given cluster and had the skills and opportunity to network well you would have access to resources and opportunities.
While this cluster networking still has value there is much more to it today than in the past. Not only must one learn to navigate multiple clusters but networking alone is not enough. Today it often requires an individual to genuinely connect within and between these multiple clusters.
Being a successful leader today requires 4 key components of connectivity
The definition of connectivity includes ‘the state or quality of being connected’ and the ‘ability to make and sustain a connection between two or more points’. Having a connection requires an association and we often use the word ‘connection’ in reference to a person of influence or importance.
In order to leverage the opportunity connectivity offers there are four qualities of connectivity a leader needs to understand:
1) Being Connected to self
Self-awareness enabled a leader to understand his/her own strengths and weaknesses. With self-awareness one can increase his/her ability to navigate multiple relationships with a diversity of connections.
Next page: The three additional connective steps