I recently read an article discussing leadership in the 21st century and the importance of leaders being networked outside of their organization and the impact that good networked leaders can have on their organizations as well as the global community as a whole.

We see lots of examples of Fortune 500 and 1000 company executives who are committed to the concept of networked leadership. And you can be guaranteed that they aren’t doing it just because it makes them feel good or it is “the right thing to do”.  These companies are public companies and they need to report to their shareholders who are always looking for improved financial results.

It is difficult to quantify the benefits directly however there is a lot of qualitative evidence that company leaders who effectively practice networked leadership lead companies who traditionally outperform their competitors from a financial aspect. Shared value is one method of measuring the impact of networked leadership which gained momentum after a Harvard Business Review article, Strategy & Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer. CSV, Corporate Shared Value, acknowledges that short-term profitability may be negatively impacted in the quest for social or environmental goals, but that the long term on opportunities for competitive advantage from building a social value proposition into corporate strategy are greater.

So you aren’t a large multi-billion dollar company, what does networked leadership mean for you and your organization? In my opinion, no matter how large or small an organization is, a company can practice CSV by taking the first step.  That first step is facilitating conversations with other executives and business owners, your peers, in the community about those issues the community is having that have or will have an impact on the sustainability and viability of the business community. The goal is to identify one community issue that with the combined efforts of many companies can be improved.  The issues are wide and diverse

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: hoefi