Would you still be a leader if you lost your positional authority? How would you know? In networks, your authority is derived from your reputation and the value of your connections to others in the network. Value and authority come from engagement with a network, usually over a long period of time. It’s the sum of many small interactions. So what would happen if you suddenly lost your positional authority?
Consider what influence you really have. What might be the indicators of your reputation for leadership?
- The diversity of your connections. If all of your connections are in one company, then perhaps your influence is more a result of your hierarchical position.
- Do people ask you for advice? Being called upon by others, and not just for official approval, indicates others see value in your work.
- Do people refer to your work? How often do people quote, cite, or repeat your work? If not often, then perhaps it’s time to start working out loud and contributing to your knowledge networks.
- Can you succinctly describe what you do, without referring to your job title or job description?
Given that the economy and human work are moving to networked frameworks, it would be best to understand how networks work. It’ a bit too late when you lose your job or decide to take up early retirement only to discover you really aren’t known by any network outside your company. This is leadership for the network era.