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Enterprise Leadership in a Networked World

In an increasingly networked world, Enterprise Leadership Development has become more vital to organization’s growth. Read how you can do it the right way.

Leadership is, unsurprisingly, consistently changing and more complex today. Upwards of 60% of leaders report having more stakeholders to consult in order to support decisions, with 85% of leaders facing greater responsibilities within their roles1. Additionally, the Gartner research found that 58% of leaders have teams that are more geographically dispersed (or, as an outcome of the global pandemic, hybrid work teams), and have 50% less time with their direct reports.

These changes have particular implications. In terms of peers, leaders are required to consult and build consensus in order to reach decisions. They also need to rely more on the expertise of their peers, often navigating unfamiliar peer relationships and organizational cultures. Leader-team dynamics also change. With more dispersed teams and less face time, leaders lack visibility into their teams’ day-to-day activities, requiring enhanced levels of trust. Teams also have a greater span of control, having to operate in a more autonomous manner and without leaders’ input. Finally, leaders must build a culture that enables staff to seek guidance, support, and development opportunities from each other.

These changes and implications are both enabled and enhanced by technology and the explosion of communication and social technologies. These have also driven an increasingly networked world. Here, “networked” relates to the increase in the number of “connections” that we have. Network count is different from being able to leverage your network and, perhaps more importantly, link your teams into your network.

The component of a successful Enterprise Leadership

Successful enterprise leaders excel at both the ‘traditional’ roles of leadership, but even more so in relation to network leadership. Our research suggests that an Enterprise Leadership comprises two broad domains. First, individual leadership. This is a leader’s task performance and their ability to achieve their own individual tasks and assignments. Individual leaders are also effective at leading their teams to achieve their collective tasks and assignments. Alongside individual leadership, enterprise leaders also need to display and deliver network leadership. Leaders must be able to improve others’ performance and use others’ contributions to improve their own performance. They also excel at leading their teams to be network performers outside of the goals and objectives of their immediate teams.

Then, what are the competencies of individual and network leaders? These competencies, summarized in the table below, are associated with the traditional leadership model of transactional and transformational leadership, with the inclusion of network leadership.


While the transactional and transformational competencies of leadership are relatively well known, the network leadership competencies are not. The latter is critical in leadership roles that require the creation of conditions that encourage the achievement of organizational goals through innovation, collaboration, and mutual exploration of competing interests, ideas, and goals.

Leaders with great Network Leadership competencies successfully build connections across teams and organizational boundaries, create the right kind of tension that spurs innovation, enable autonomy in the network and a need for members to collaborate with each other, and ensure that the network functions effectively within the larger organizational context.

Analytics for Enterprise Leadership Development

Understanding and being able to identify those competencies above is not sufficient. It is the action we take in relation to this information that is critical. Analytics is at the heart of the action, but action must flow from analytics. Individual leaders can use their results to understand both how they can contribute to their direct reports, as well as leadership teams, and know where they need to leverage the strengths of others. Equally, senior leaders need to have an objective view of their leadership teams and how best to leverage strengths across the team in support of network success. In short, you need analytics that provides guidance at multiple levels.

Successful data analytics and decision-making are underpinned by four capabilities, at the heart of SHL, that support action in relation to an individual’s or team’s Enterprise Leadership results.

  • Products – Your data, particularly in relation to talent data and psychometric assessments, should be objective, valid and reliable. Data and assessments rooted in science are pre-requisite for understanding Enterprise Leadership and driving action and decision confidence.

  • Experience – Providing a positive experience for your decision-makers enhances the sense of confidence in relation to talent decisions. Access to objective, real-time data is a minimal starting point in the decision and action process.

  • Services – Providing high-quality, high-touch support for your enterprise leaders, whether individual or team feedback and guidance in relation to recommendations and actions that align with your organization’s strategy.

  • Insights –Technology, such as the SHL Insight Platform, provided access to always-on data, within insights that are quick to produce, and intuitive to analyze. Your Enterprise Leadership data can be analyzed at a variety of levels and across teams. Critically, the data you collect has further application across talent decisions, whether for succession planning, team alignment, or strategic initiatives that require specific leader competencies and experience.

Leaders today may have broader networks of contacts, but it is their ability to leverage these networks and—perhaps more importantly—support their teams in leveraging these networks that drive enhanced performance. This change requires three key shifts. First, leaders need to improve their ability to take and give to their peers. Second, enterprise leaders push and pull their team's contributions. Finally, by facilitating, rather than directing team performance, enterprise leaders accomplish the tasks of both their own functions as well as the business as a whole. Ultimately, enterprise leaders bring about a 12% increase in revenue growth, positively impacting both their own business units and the business units of other leaders2. Networking done the enterprise leadership way!

1 Gartner, Enterprise Leadership Head of HR Survey
2 Corporate Executive Board, Enterprise Leadership Network Analysis

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Brandon Pleaner

Brandon is an experienced learning and development leader and registered psychologist with a demonstrated history of working across industry sectors and geographic territories. Skilled in designing innovative solutions to talent and development challenges across the employee lifecycle. He is passionately focused on the development and leadership of employees, having a deep appreciation for the challenges of business development, and talent growth, with a history of assisting organization create and implement sustainable development plans that move beyond traditional models.

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