Leading in a Connected World Stanford Business Brief with Rob Cross

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Networks of relationships among employees are increasingly the means by which organizations create value and foster innovation. From ten years of research tracking top-performing leaders at over 60 companies, Professor Cross found that successful leaders manage informal networks to compensate for weaknesses in formal structures, and thus improve collaboration, knowledge-sharing and best practices. In doing so, they are less susceptible to the loss of key contributors whose expertise enables a group to succeed. Top -performing leaders analyze and respond to interpersonal networks differently than leaders who fail—in five ways. They identify and adjust staff overloads to minimize bottlenecks. They draw in the "folks on the fringe” of networks by getting newcomers involved with colleagues and reengaging under-connected high performers. They bridge silos to facilitate collaboration across functions, geographies, hierarchy and expertise. They develop surge capacity by ensuring that the best expertise in a network is tapped for new problems and opportunities. And they minimize insularity by coordinating focus across groups on key accounts or business goals. Rob Cross is a professor of management at the University of Virginia and coauthor of two books, including Driving Results through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth. He earned his BS and MBA from the University of Virginia and DBA from Boston University.

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