Friday, May 22, 2009

New resource on leadership networks

Claire Reinelt and I have just turned our paper "SNA and the Evaluation of Leadership Networks" (to appear in Leadership Quarterly (Elsevier)) into a full-blown website where practitioners of leadership development can find and share resources: The site includes the paper, a tagged & searchable database of our bibliography, a discussion forum, case studies, and other resources related to leadership networks.

Below is one of the introductory pages on the site, "Kinds of Leadership Networks":

Leadership networks provide resources and support for leaders, and increase the scope and scale of impact leaders can have individually and collectively. We find it helpful to distinguish four types of leadership networks:
Our choice to focus on these four types of networks grows out of our experience as consultants with clients who fund, run, and catalyze leadership networks. Often our clients are interested in using network mapping or other tools to increase the awareness of leaders about the power of networks, to further catalyze relationships and connections, and to strengthen the capacity of the network to act collectively. There is also growing interest in knowing what difference leadership networks are making.

Our leadership network classification framework is also influenced by the work of Borgatti and Foster (2003), Plastrik and Taylor (2006), among others. We compare these three frameworks with the tables below:

Our Framework
Type of Network Description of Network
Peer Leadership Network

Leaders who are connected through shared interests and commitments, shared work, or shared experiences. Leaders in the network share information, provide advice and support, learn from one another, and occasionally collaborate together.

Organizational Leadership Network

Leaders who connect to increase performance. Often these are informal connections joining people who are employees of the same organization, such as when an employee seeks advice from a colleague other than her supervisor.

Field-Policy Leadership Network

Leaders who have a shared commitment to influencing the world around them (e.g., the framing of a particular issue, underlying assumptions, and standards for how things get done). These networks make it easier for leaders to find common ground, mobilize support, and influence policy and the allocation of resources.

Collective Leadership Network

People who self-organize around a common cause. Network members exercise leadership locally and sometimes connect on a large scale. These networks may be driven by a desire to achieve a specific goal, or simply by the desire of each member to belong to something larger than oneself.

Borgatti and Foster approach networks with a more conceptual emphasis than ours. They present a very broad network paradigm within a two-by-two matrix. We highlight below how the four quadrants of their matrix correspond most closely to our framework of four types of leadership networks:

Borgatti and Foster (2003)

Goal used to explain network
Actor performance evaluation Properties of resource diffusion
Mechanism used to explain network Structural position of actors in network Structural Capital
Environmental Shaping
Flow of resources through ties Social access to resources

Plastrik and Taylor's Net Gains handbook speaks directly to practitioners (network builders) seeking social change. Their framework also maps neatly onto ours:

Plastrik and Taylor (2006)

Connectivity Network
Alignment Network
Production Network
Connects people to allow easy flow of and access to information and transactionsAligns people to develop and spread an identity and collective value proposition
Fosters joint action for specialized outcomes by aligned people
Desired Network Effects
Rapid growth and diffusion, small-world reach, resilience
Adaptive capacity, small-world reach, rapid growth and diffusion
Rapid growth and diffusion, small-world reach, resilience, adaptive capacity
Key Task of Network Builder
Weaving-help people meet each other, increase ease of sharing and searching for information
Facilitating-helping people to explore potential shared identity and value propositionsCoordinating- helping people plan and implement collaborative actions

The fundamental goal of our framework is to help practitioners of leadership development - to explain when and how to use social network analysis as an evaluation and capacity-building tool.

All people who are dedicated to developing and supporting the emergence of leadership must understand how to create, develop, and transform leadership networks. We hope our work will inspire more evaluation research on leadership networks and on how to harness and use the power of social network analysis for the collective good.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License and is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Connective Associates LLC except where otherwise noted.

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