Recently on a Network Leadership blog, an authority remarked, “The number one task of network leaders is to help others become network leaders.” Of course, this principle is important, desirable, but, not ‘number one.’
Sidebar: describing network value as an ordinal number is not recommended. It’s not a good way to understand living systems. Living systems are remarkable for the things they do NOT do, i.e., radical efficiency. Thus, everything is ‘most important.’ N.B. Cartesian reductionism and assigning ordinal number importance simply cannot describe/define network value or living systems.
Rather, the core activity of network leadership is easing structural holes through brokering. Recall, structural holes are often a required and beneficial property of hierarchies, functions, command, control activities and so forth. They are often referred to as white space, boundaries, cross-functionalism, edges, etc. They’re essential because they provide the domain network with the unique social composition that fundamental advances higher-order subject knowledge and competence.
Structural holes propel the knowledge-based view (KBV) of the enterprise. They are often derisively called ‘silos.’ They are essential to KBV and effectiveness. In short, silos are an important organizational asset.
Network leaders and leadership serve the essential role of identifying, bridging, brokering, and mastering the organizational gestalt to achieve desired, prosperous outcomes. In short, network leaders transform structural holes to structural wholes.