Leadership Effectiveness


Personal networks play an integral role in performance and well-being at work. Our research across more than 20,000 people over the past two decades shows that common advice to build a big network can do much more harm than good. By focusing on what high performers (i.e., those in the top performance categories in their organizations) do through networks our research has been able to help others build personal networks that improve individual performance and well-being.

Network Dimensions And Practices That Distinguish High Performers and Successful Leaders

Conventional wisdom assumes that a big network is what will lead to success. As such self help books too often find people that know a lot of people and come back with their advice on how to be a good networker. Our research has taken a different tact — rather than focus on what people with big networks do we have been interested in studying the high performers in close to 300 organizations over the past two decades. Understanding how these people build and leverage networks has shown that executives should take three steps to improve their connectivity.

Personal Networks Of Successful Leaders

Relevant Research

Step 1
Reducing Collaborative Overload To Create Time and Space.

Leaders often reclaim 12-16% of time by systematically identifying and re-allocating un-necessary role driven collaborations and altering behaviors that place excessive collaborative demands on their time.

How Successful Leaders Reduce Collaborative Overload

Relevant Research

Step 2
Investing In Connections Critical To Personal Performance and Well-Being

High performers and those reporting greater career satisfaction and growth through work have unique networks that we can all develop by being intentional on who is sought out for specific benefits.

How Successful Leaders Build Networks That Promote
Performance And Well-Being At Work

Relevant Research

Step 3
Creating Pull In Networks Through Energizing Interactions

A person’s ability to generate energy and enthusiasm in networks is typically four times the predictor of a high performer as any personal or network dimension we have measured over the past two decades. Replicating behaviors that energizers exhibit has enhanced success of leaders in a range of well known organizations.

How Successful Leaders Create Energy And Engagement
in Personal Networks

Relevant Research

Network Traps That Undermine Personal Effectiveness and De-Rail Careers

Networks can short circuit careers if not developed or maintained in intentional ways. We have identified a range of specific traps — such as insularity or network bias — that high performers too often fall into and so either stall or derail otherwise successful careers.

Career De-Railing Network Traps

Relevant Research

Research Overview

This research focuses on ways of improving individual effectiveness and well being by intentionally managing personal networks. The work will target unique network needs for individual contributors (heavy focus on building networks critical to success), mid-level leaders and transitioning executives (heavy focus on avoiding network traps that derail careers) and top executives (heavy focus on reducing collaborative demands and driving results through network centric talent processes). Tactically the research will produce tools, videos and other resources that help employees in your organization replicate networks of successful leaders.

These resources will be able to be embedded in on-boarding, career planning/mentoring, development programs and coaching efforts as well as utilized via other informal programs.

Research Results

Outputs of this research thread will include white papers and articles for practitioner outlets. In addition, we plan to develop and make available to members a range of cases and tools (both guides and software products) that can be used by employees in your organization to replicate successful personal network practices. These include:

  • Text and video leadership profiles/stories to facilitate executive development and career planning in member organizations
  • Guides for personal network improvement that will be targeted to three audiences with unique network improvement needs — individual contributors, mid-level or transitioning leaders and senior executives
  • Video-based workshops led by Rob Cross for members to supplement development efforts in on-boarding, career planning or leadership development programs
  • Workshop and/or leadership program prepared slide decks and facilitator guides for member use
  • Coaching program protocols
  • Macros for survey driven personal network analysis
  • Software for email and other passive data source analysis

Research Coordinators

Seasoned coaches, case writers and academics will inform this stream of research. Lead researchers include: Sally Colella, Rob Cross, and Amy Halliday.

Copyright © 2014 Rob Cross LLC. All Rights Reserved.