Phil Willburn – Networked Leadership

Phil Willburn


Welcome. I am full-time faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership and also a network scientist. My role is to bring network science to organizational leadership practices. Follow me on twitter @pwillburn

I’m also author of a book chapter in the book The Transforming Leader called Leadership and Organizational Networks: A Relational Perspective. See an except of the chapter below.

the transformational leader


Two main principles have emerged from the research on leadership and organizational networks regarding the role of leaders and their relationship to these networks:

1. The ability to lead is directly affected by the networks a leader builds.

The structure of a leader’s network affects how a leader shares and receives new ideas, who a leader trusts for information, and how leaders can locate resources outside their traditional roles. Leaders should be aware of the relationships. Building a diverse network (not just a big one) of associates can greatly influence the success of a leader.

2. A leader’s behavior influences the type of network structure that develops in organizations, which consequently impacts organizational performance.

Transformational leaders are aware of the networks they are reinforcing and the impact on their organization. For example, is a leader reinforcing hierarchy or promoting collaboration? Is a leader creating decision bottlenecks that restrict information flow, or connecting information hubs across the organization? Is a leader encouraging a robust network that can withstand changes in the environment, or creating a brittle network that breaks with the slightest change? Creating the conditions for robust relationships to develop is critical for the twenty- first century organization.