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Where and When are Leadership
Connections Initiated

As Figure 3 shows, leadership
connections can be planned or unplanned, as represented in the left column of the
figure. Additionally, they can be Leadership Team member initiated or
stakeholder initiated, as represented in the middle and right columns of the
figure. The result is leadership connections that are planned and member
initiated, planned and stakeholder initiated, unplanned and member initiated,
and unplanned and stakeholder initiated. If the Leadership Team restricts its
membership to people who do well on the earlier Leadership Team membership
assessment, the four types of connection initiations shown in Figure Three are
manageable for the members. They are comfortable with all four types.

Let’s expand on the four
initiation types. Planned initiations are those where either the member or the
stakeholder decides ahead of time to initiate a connection and then pursues the
connection. This may start with a letter or phone call, but may as commonly
start with either the member or stakeholder planning ahead of time to introduce
himself (or herself) at a meeting or other gathering.

A few cautions are in order
when considering planned connections. The Leadership Team member should
initiate the connection personally. If possible, do not have someone else make
the arrangements. For example, do not have a secretary, co-worker, or another
stakeholder arrange for the first meeting. If initiating the connection by
letter or phone, do not ask the stakeholder to contact you. For example, if you
leave a message on voice mail, let the person know who you are, briefly why you
are calling, and that you will try again at another time. You can leave your
number at the end, letting the person know returning the call is fine if they
prefer. Just do not give any hint you expect them to call you. – When calling
anyone, take a minute to decide before you place the call exactly what you will
say, if you need to leave a voice message. Do not wait until you hear the beep
to think about what you want to say.

Additionally, never initiate a
connection by email. In general, avoid emails with stakeholders all together,
unless the other person sends an email to you. Even then, a phone call is
better and a face-to-face contact is better yet. Email is just too impersonal
for leadership connections. Also, do not stop by someone’s home or office
without an appointment, expecting the person to meet with you. This is both
rude and inconsiderate.

Further, do not call a
stakeholder on his (or her) cell phone or send him a text message, unless he
has given you the number personally and asked you to use the number. Do not
send text messages to stakeholders unless you are replying to a text message
the stakeholder sent to you.

For both planned and unplanned
connection initiations, there is one exception to the above caution about
personally initiating a connection. When at a meeting or other gathering, asking
someone you already know to introduce you to someone they already know is
usually acceptable to the potential stakeholder. You can then say as part of
the introduction you were hoping you would get a chance to talk with him (or
her). This lets him know you have an agenda beyond the social pleasantry and
starts your relationship on an open and honest basis and clarifies the role of
the person making the introductions. If it is not awkward under the
circumstances, ask the potential stakeholder if you can call him later to
arrange a time to talk more. Do not try to pursue your agenda then unless the
potential stakeholder specifically asks you to do so. Just give him your card
and call later, if he agrees. As we saw earlier, good Team members are never pushy.

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