Tuesday 28 August 2012

Reach the top of your own mountain!

As an active networker, I’m often asked to represent groups that are run and operated by someone else. “It’ll raise your profile!” is the usual reason given.  Although that’s not in question, have you ever wondered what it’ll be like to lead your own? Operating ‘third party’ groups is great and I would recommend it.  I’ve done so myself and what I learned in a short space of time has been invaluable. Running your own is an entirely different ball game! There’s no big ‘system’ to lean on and the ultimate responsibility is on you.

With a solid networking grounding, here’s a question:  Why not climb up and reach the top your own mountain?

My late father, a distinguished army officer in WW2, who fought alongside Lord Mountbatten and his troops to help liberate Malaya, (now Malaysia and Singapore), mentored me to lead. Until I started my own business, I hadn’t really considered that I was in fact more active than most in various leadership roles from a young boy, throughout my adolescence, (more in my LinkedIn profile), and into the business world. I’ll never forget his pride when I became Head Boy of a UK boarding school, despite my not being considered a top academic.  Heck, when I arrived at the school at nine years of age, I was the boy who had the “funny accent”, (the Couplands and extended family were – and our family ‘hub’ still is – based in Singapore).

The bar is constantly being raised. Expectations are higher. Effective leadership can be a great solution.

I have come to the realisation that, in order to make a real difference, great leadership has to be at the core of almost everything one does in the world of business. I have shared with those I coach in marketing that the bar was and is still being raised. People’s expectations in what a business person has to offer are higher than ever. Why?  Well, there are several reasons. The main ones are lack of time; ever increasing competition and what I often term as ‘noise’.

So what do I mean by noise?

The fact that we live in a busier, more crowded world is a given, so that’s not what I’m covering here. What I mean is I often hear fellow networkers claim that they’ll start something for themselves, however don’t really deliver – assuming they started in the first place!  Ideas are the easy part. Most can come up with great ideas so, to me, there’s nothing in the slightest bit exclusive about that.  Action and action with great results is an entirely different matter! Sure, there are and will be plenty of mistakes, disappointments and regrets along the way. Isn’t life about that anyway?

Being a leader should no longer be regarded as something one can aspire to be. In my view, it has never been so vital in the business world.

Ever presented in front of audiences that consist of your customers, your network and your competitors? I can tell you, it’s no mean feat, however seldom have I found such a rewarding experience. In fact, taking on the mantle such as this has so far been one of the best things we have done so far since I started my business. Great relationships and business that resulted exceeded our own expectations.

So whether it’s networking, a committee or your business, why not climb and be at the top of your own mountain? I’m not saying I’m there yet however, for me, one or two mountains aren’t enough, I’m climbing more and, although my legs can sometimes hurt like mad, there’s no way I’m turning back!

There are no “you have to’s!” here, I‘m deliberately being thought-provoking.

…and what about representing someone else? (I’m not referring to advocating here, which is of course a great thing to do). If you represent someone else, ever considered removing the billboard of him / her / their logo at events and representing yourself?  It could well be time to move on and, usually, the best time is when you feel you’re at your (or their?!) peak. Don’t just imagine being at the top of your own mountain, why not do something about it?  It’s called change and a change that should have an even better view!

Reach the top of your own mountain! It doesn't have to be the tallest

What I seldom see are people truly aspiring, taking focussed action at coming out of their comfort zone and at least trying to lead and carve their own way, representing themselves and leading – no matter how large or small the initiative.

Those that do get more respect through what they have achieved anyway and, even if they end up doing something else later, it’s most certainly not failure as they’ve climbed their own mountain, took a deep breath of satisfaction and took in the view.

 Now how exclusive is that?!

John Coupland
@networkerplus Social Media


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