Alternative Networking and Real Leadership
A recent networking event got us thinking. When we’re leading, we often get caught up in the what we’re doing. Planning, executing, measuring… The day-to-day delivery tends to consume all. If we’re particularly good at what we do, though, we lead the way with the why. A strong, clear vision that gives purpose to all our actions, and brings the team together in a way that just cranking out profits can’t achieve alone.
The people, or course are all important. How often do we remind ourselves just who we’re leading for? Leadership is often touted as a singular path, honoured in its own right and as a skill laid down at the of individuals, with those deemed successful at it venerated for bringing about success in whatever guise. It’s not really about us leaders though, is it. It’s about the teams we motivate, inspire and enable, and the privilege it is to guide a group of people towards achieving a collective goal.
Most often forgotten though, is the how. We’re so used to existing within four walls, chained to our computers and scraping together something resembling lunch – usually pitiful and hastily consumed at our desks – that we forget there’s a wider world out there, and an alternative way to getting things done. Or so we realised on a Freshwalks City event last week.
At Real Leadership Coaching, networking events are usually met with a certain amount of dread. Hovering around a stuffy room, lukewarm wine in hand and forced conversations aren’t our style, so when Lauren recently took herself off on a walking tour of Manchester with a group of similarly curious, open-minded and keen to talk group, she found herself pleasantly surprised.
With a shared interest in the history of Manchester, a swift walk around the city necessitating purposeful conversations in the short time afforded between stops, and a follow up lunch to make connections and swap contact details, the fresh air and alternative setting inspired some interesting conversations, and afforded inspiration that a conference suite just can’t afford.
All which leads us to, what does our culture and way of working say about how we value our staff? What might a change of scenery and conversation afford us that a couple of hours out of day might reward? Where to look for inspiration? Alternative networking events, of course!
Beyond the city tours, Freshwalks are renowned for getting out into the countryside and tackling challenging vistas. Fresh air, a physical challenge and a mixed bunch of corporate bodies helps level the playing field, with conversations happening between everyone from CEOs to freelancers, and the collective goal of completing the walk bringing complete strangers together in support of one another, not to mention a fresh perspective.
What might scaling a mountain do for you and your team?
International Cycling Executives
Still physical activity, we know, but Dave is an avid cyclist, and rather than inspire new connections, International Cycling Executives is about building relationships over time, and forging deep and lasting connections. Group rides and follow up lunches allow people to get to know each other over the course of several months – networking in the traditional sense being far more challenging when whizzing past one another on a bike – but committing to new challenges and supporting one another in achieving them brings strangers together in a way that a canape can’t.
How might a collective and long-term challenge help gel your team?
Debbie’s passion for and skill with food – as the past winner of The Taste – led us to Mastermind Dinners. Three course meals, with an overarching theme and a carefully selected group of guests seated based on unusual yet shared experiences, the food networking events sadly no longer take place, though owner Jayson Gaignard published a book off the back of his success, and now runs the highly coveted Mastermind Talks series.
How might you forge better connections between your team?
What unusual or alternative networking events have you attended, and how might they inspire your business?