I know, I know. You’ve heard this before. One of the oldest distinctions every aspiring leader has to understand. But, stay with me. I recently saw this distinction demonstrated in a new, very clear, very demonstrative way…not once, but twice.

Leaders naturally develop and nurture networks…rich, wide-reaching, interlocked networks. They are comfortable with that complexity-even enjoy it- and they relish meeting someone new or discovering a new link, that they themselves can feed into and help, or perhaps leverage for their organization’s benefit.

Most career managers and staff people like clarity and linear relationships…easy to manage and simple to understand.

Miss an opportunity to network and you may miss a chance to build into someone else or have them build into you and your organization. Either way, a terrible waste-

I know a gifted professional who has stated her interest in helping out a nonprofit organization by donating her time to them and offering free consulting…not once, but twice…to two separate people. Both offers (so far) have gone unanswered. (I don’t know whether they “missed” the offer entirely or just felt no particular obligation to respond. In either case, a bad move!)

The nonprofit should have jumped on these offers immediately-or at least acknowledged and expressed thanks for them-but I am not certain they recognized the value it would bring them and the organization. They just did not see the possibilities.

True leaders think differently. They are always on the lookout for new possibilities, new linkages. It’s in their DNA. Don’t let your guard down and miss a chance to grow through relationships and networking, no matter how successful your organization is today. You just never know…