One of my favorite blog sites is Harvard Business Review, and one of my favorite writers there is Rosabeth Moss Kanter. I came across a quote from her the other day that really resonated with me.
“The most radical thing we can do is introduce people to one another. New connections produce new ideas.”
It seems so simple, right? We spend a lot of time developing strategic plans, creating alignment, cutting costs, and making sure that people follow through—and we should do all of those things. We’d be remiss if we didn’t. However, what Kanter is asserting is that if we want to be innovative, there is something that we can do that is far simpler. Catalytic leaders connect people, and as she says, “New connections produce new ideas.”
One of my mentors used to say to me, “There’s only three primary sources of growth in your life: (1) The books that you read, (2) The experiences that you have, and (3) The relationships that you make.”
You may or may not agree with his convictions, but one thing you can’t deny is this: Relationships change us. They can change us positively or negatively, but they change us. That’s why good parents of middle school students often worry about their daughter getting mixed up with the wrong group of friends, right? And that’s why an expert leader like Rosabeth Moss Kanter can say that if you want to do something radical, try being a connector.
Reflecting on what she said has caused me to give myself three challenges, which I’d like to ask you to consider as well.
- Get Connected Yourself – especially with people who aren’t like you and may not see things just like you do. For some reason, we tend to isolate ourselves from people who have different views. That may be safe, but it also may be stunting our growth in many areas of life.
- Learn! Learn! Learn! – especially about some things that don’t have anything to do with your area of expertise, at least not on the surface. I spent a lot of years focused on a very narrow slice of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve discovered that by widening my horizons, I’ve learned more about what I thought I knew than I ever imagined possible.
- Be a Connector – One of the downsides of this wonderful world of information in which we now live is that there is a tendency to simply take it in but never take action. However, this idea of connecting people won’t do much good if we just “take it in.” So, stop reading now and start reaching out—Get Radical!