Do You Create Superheroes?

What creates a high performer? Is it how many degrees they have, how many IQ points they have? Or is it how they create, use and power up their network? Dan Goleman says just one cognitive ability distinguishes top performers from average; pattern recognition. And an important part of big picture pattern thinking is the ability to create and energize a network of people who provide the pieces of that pattern.

Rob Cross, from the University of Virginia, has been studying how people interact, and the networks we create in the workplace. And he’s convinced that the strength, reach, and energy in the networks we create are powerful predictors of professional success, and happiness too.

Try this. Don’t ask yourself, “Who do I talk to at work?” Instead ask yourself these four questions:

  • Who do I go to to get things done?
  • Who do I go to for information?
  • Who do I trust at work?
  • Who do I interact with who always leaves me feeling better and stronger, and more energized?

In many organizations, up to a third of one’s professional skills and capabilities remain unknown to others in the organization. Enter the importance and power of the “broker.” The Broker is an important capabilities connector in the Real Org Chart. The Broker creates the connectivity in information, expertise, decision-making, political dynamics, project awareness and more. It also turns out your SVPs are most likely to be the centers of information, trust, effectiveness and energy.

But one of the greatest predictors of your effectiveness, your happiness, and your success is your capacity to be an energizer, instead of a vampire. According to Rob Cross, statistically your ability to create energy in the workplace and with your colleagues is more than 10 times as powerful as other predictors, including function, title, department, expertise, knowledge… Think about that for a second, and then ask yourself, “When people leave an interaction with me, do they leave feeling more or less energized?”

Enthusiasm is the contagious excitement of seeing the possible, and effectively sharing that vision with others. When we get enthusiastic about something it can be infectious. Just remember the difference between enthusiasm and action. There’s nothing more de-energizing than walking away fired-up from a meeting, work diligently on the shared vision, then only to return and find the prophet hasn’t done anything.

Craft an enthusiastic vision that captures the values of people in the group, and paint real possibilities. Next lead by example and make your contribution to the vision. That’s leadership enthusiasm in action.