I had a dream the other night about a young woman who brought a group of people together with a combined focus and got dramatic results quickly. I think the dream was triggered by my involvement with Rachel, whom I’ll tell you about further down the page. It reminded me of a key component of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The tipping point. Have you read it? He talks about three types of people who make significant contributions to those around them – Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople. I think of their attributes as superpowers.
Connectors can’t help themselves. Their superpower is to connect people–and they know a lot of folk. Typically, they’re friendly and outgoing. They can’t not talk to people but more than that, their antennae are permanently at full alert to learn about the people they meet, in order to connect those who share common interests or needs. It’s their innate skill. For a quiet, introverted person, this behaviour may seem intrusive. A connector doesn’t see it that way–they have a natural interest and curiosity about the people they meet, not for self-serving reasons but in order to be helpful. They’re great networkers. For them, it’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Their natural mindset is, ‘If I connect this person to that person, they might both get value.’
Mavens are like sponges. They collect information and love sharing it with others. If you want to know something, ask a Maven. Check Gladwell’s book for more about them.
Salespeople are naturally persuasive. They are so optimistic and enthusiastic about their current interests that they sweep people along with their enthusiasm.
1: Two neighbours were chatting about the possibility of starting a book club in a small semi–rural community. One of the two was a Connector. Enthused about the idea, she shared it with a few local friends. About six neighbours came to the first meeting. Quickly, the group expanded to fifteen. Some new-comers were friends of other members; the rest came because the connector kept sharing enthusiastically. Whenever she talks to a local person who enjoys reading, and she thinks they will fit with the existing members, she invites them. The group is now into its third year. After every meeting the participants walk away saying, “Didn’t we have fun!”
2: There has been a small yacht club in my local community for many years, but for most of the nearly seventeen years I’ve lived here it hasn’t been very active. I’m a sailor, but I’d felt no motivation to join the local club. I didn’t have any close connections with anyone involved, and nothing motivated me to enquire more.
Last year, Rachel moved into the community. She’s a force of nature! She saw the ailing yacht club and also its potential and did something about it. In three months the club has gone from a membership of ten people, half of them non-active and the organisation about to fold, to a membership of eighty and growing. A Learn-To-Sail programme has been reinstated, the local school is involved, a vibrant social scene is developing, and regular sailing events are back on the water. Seems to me she’s got superpowers–she’s definitely a Connector and after watching her in action, I believe she is also a Salesperson. Along with that, she works hard and isn’t afraid to do whatever’s needed to get the job done. Her vibrant energy, her focus and her connecting skills have turned a sick organisation into a force for good.
If you want a new project to start with a bang, find yourself a Connector. They might not be the one who sustains the project long-term–their energy is usually starting energy. However, if they’re effective they’ll attract others with skills such as delegation, building on solid foundations, leadership and all the skills to keep an organisation or a project running effectively.
Any business with a sales focus needs Connectors to bring in the business and others with different superpowers to sustain growth, nurture clients and deliver. All good management of time and resources, you would think. However, it’s surprising how often a business tries to place staff in roles not suited to their particular skill sets.
What is your superpower?
And what is the best example you’ve seen of somebody who’s turned an organisation around with apparent ease?