By Steven Nelick, Entrepreneur
Leadership is a critical component to the success of any business, and one of the most effective ways to blaze a trail that others will follow is to collaborate with them. Working with others is a message that executives and managers consistently push to employees because it’s clear that a company is stronger when everyone is working together toward one shared goal.
CEOs and c-suite executives should apply those same standards. We are all stronger leaders when we collaborate with other leaders. There are a few reasons why collaboration fuels strong leadership.
The more people you know, the more valuable you are to others
Imagine how you’d be positioned if you developed a business relationship with — just to pick two well-known leaders at random — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos or Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors. Beyond the cool factor, you would know that if you encountered a business setback and needed to turn to your extensive contact list, you would have two particularly formidable allies in your corner.
Connections are the start of relationships, and relationships generate power. You can accomplish more faster and more effectively because you know people. And if those people like and want to help you, all the better.
Relationship building can sound callous when discussed that way, and I don’t mean it to be. Fostering connections may create power and make you a stronger leader, but it is also an opportunity — for both parties — to affect positive change in the lives of others.
Your community gives you credibility
Our reputations are as valuable as money. The more credible and trusted you are among your employees and customers, the more effective you will be as their leader.
By nature, people tend to trust the wisdom of the crowd. When your employees, customers and members of the public recognize that you’re plugged in to your industry and your community, you’re more likely to be listened to.
We ask for references for a job partly for that reason. It isn’t just about asking about a potential employee; employers want to see if a potential hire is connected enough to produce names of people who will vouch for them.
The professionals you surround yourself with enhance your brand — and give you credibility. Being part of something bigger than yourself automatically adds to your reputation (your brand). And it all points back to being able to influence others as a leader.
The more connections you have, the more you people you can help
With each opportunity to help others, the reach of your business widens. The wider your reach, the more people you can impact as a leader. This is a powerful opportunity to be a catalyst for change in your community and help others become strong leaders too — leaders who will make a difference in the world. Leading by example and inspiring others with your passion are two of the best ways to shape future leaders.
Even as you’re helping people, though, you will always be helping your own business.
Consider what your business went through during the pandemic — and what it still may be enduring. If you had a strong support team of c-level executives around the country, odds are, when the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were first being issued, you were turning to each other. Having a go-to group of trusted advisors allowed you to survive an unprecedented crisis, and if you didn’t have that, you probably struggled far more than the business leaders who had a diverse group of colleagues to rely on.
During times of uncertainty is when we most need a trusted group of professionals whom we respect and trust. We launched M3Linked during the early days of the pandemic, and I’m convinced that while it was the worst of times globally, it was the best of times for an entrepreneur-development community. When we couldn’t get within six feet of one another is when we needed each other more than ever; that made me acutely aware of the value of being well-connected.
These are still uncertain times. The value of a brain trust of people you can rely on can never be underestimated. And there’s something powerful in being able to tell your team, “I know who to call.”
Our connections are invaluable assets. In fact, they are essential. You’ll waste less time, or maybe no time at all, if you have a stable of experts to turn to when you’re facing a challenge. So, yes, if you want to lead, lead. But find somebody you can follow first.