I listened to the HRB Ideacast podcast, Why “Connector” Managers Build Better Talent on the morning that I wrote this blog post. It spurred my thinking about connector project leaders. The ideas in this post come partially from the podcast as well as my own perspective on leadership.
As a project leader, the best way that you can approach your role is with the perspective that you are a connector. Often we expect the leader to be the person who will know all the answers. And if you don’t know an answer, you will take the question or problem away and find the answer. But a good leader will connect the people who have the question or the problem with the resources that can help them solve the problem. Making the connection is more effective in the long run. It helps each team member grow, and it helps people learn to make their own connections.
How To Be a Good Connector
As a project leader, here are a few useful tips on how to be a good connector:
- Understand the problem. You can’t connect your project team members with the right resources if you don’t completely understand the problem that they are trying to solve. It is difficult to define a problem without instinctively grasping for solutions. As a project leader, you must become good at understanding the problem without providing the solution.
- Coach people on how they can present and talk about the problem. Often when a project contributor talks about the problem they have, they forget to paint the big picture for a new audience. It also happens that the contributor doesn’t explain why they are approaching a specific resource for help. A project leader can help the contributor structure the request for help.
- Connect project contributors with the right people. A project leader should not just give a list of 5 possible people who a contributor could connect with. The project leader must recognize that it is a waste of the contributors’ time to find out which person can help them best. By connecting contributors with the right person, it reduces frustration both on the contributor’s side, and from the resource’s perspective because they are only approached with relevant problems.
- Follow up to make sure that the connection was useful. As a project leader, your job is to make sure that the project succeeds. You must follow up to make sure that your contributors have everything they need to solve the problem. If the connection you made didn’t work, maybe you need a different connection. Perhaps you need to refine your problem statement.
As a project leader, being a connector is vitally important to the success of your project. You do not have all of the knowledge and skill to complete your project on your own. You must reach out to the right people and resources to contribute in the areas that they have the most skill in. Be a connector to increase your project success.