Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur


Marybell Materum and
Emiliano Hudtohan
Jose Rizal University
Business, Education and Law Journal, Jose Rizal University
Volume 21, No. 1 School Year 2016-2017

The study on Network Leadership in a retail banking industry was empirically tested through a quantitative survey on the perception of the branch manager, immediate superior and subordinates. The elements of Network Leadership that were surveyed are: 1. Connector Attribute, 2. Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach Attribute, 3. Network Facilitator or Organizer Attribute, and 4. Network Guardian Attribute. The findings of this study can be further enhanced by conducting a training program in communication, innovation and relational skills of the branch managers that will help nurture and maintain Network Leadership among the branches of the said banking institution.

Key words: Network leadership, connector attribute, coordinator and coach attribute, facilitator/organizer attribute and guardian attribute.

Innovation in banking and its landscape on rapid advances in technology, changing customer expectations, and competitive pressures are driving bank leaders to identify opportunities for network leadership.
As executives, we now undeniably live and must lead in a dynamic, more complex web of traditional employee structures, contingent workers, non-traditional partnerships, and strategic alliances (Macnamara, 2005, p.1). A good network is created, and for networking to succeed, it requires the application of hard work. A network without the work produces nothing worthwhile. The challenge for organizations is to make sure that people in network leadership positions are assigned to the level appropriate to their skills, time applications and values and also, for these leaders, business networking is not simply finding customers in one-to-one meetings and connections; it is building a strong network, helpful for their aims.

This paper is intended to help banking institutions’ networking not only in finding customers for Branch Managers but to increase their capability on what more they can do to build their network and a wide range of relating with whom they can do business internally and externally. Multi-stream human resource management needs to have a wider network which requires work at both strategic and operational level to manage various personnel policies that affect people at work. Basically it must adapt a relational leadership and network leadership of so many employees in the company will result to productivity. In practice, this requires company-wide activities, conversation with so many line managers advising and coaching when it comes to disciplinary actions, negotiating during union or employee group disputes/maintaining good relations and ensuring that the wider workforce is aware of company policies and procedures. These are a few of the human resource tasks that require personal relationships within the organization. As such, an innovative behavior requires creativity in using relational and technological skills.

In a digital environment that uses technology at work, there is a need for the organizations to determine who are what we now call network leaders. These are leaders who are expanding the network for business and they ensure to build a professional network of clients and contacts for the business sustainability (http://www.answers.com). The value of developing those networks is very useful in maintaining network relationships.

Bridging ties among organization clusters are critically important in innovation. New ideas are often discovered outside the local cluster domain. Working collaboratively has become a recognized effective practice in the delivery of public services by community agencies and organizations (Marek, Brock & Savla, 2014).
This study contributed to the literature in several ways. This is the first study in the Philippines that examined the attributes of network leaders. It showed how the level of competencies affected the network leadership variable. Moreover, it examined if there are already “network leaders” (from the chosen company), who possess the attributes determined in the course of the study. Another contribution of this research study was that it determined and recommended the training intervention and training program to be given to the network leaders for them to be a “true network leaders”.

Holley and Krebs (2006) stated the important network leader roles which are very significant for this study as follows:

1. Connector

Everyone in the cluster knows what everyone else knows and no one knows what is going on in other clusters. The lack of outside information and dense cohesion within the network removes all possibility for new ideas and innovations. The weaver begins with a hub and spoke network, with the weaver as the hub. The weaver has the vision, the energy, and the social skills to connect to diverse individuals and groups and start information flowing to and from them. The weaver usually has external links outside of the community to gather or bring in information and ideas. This is a critical phase for community building because everything depends on the weaver who is the hub in the network. Initially the network weaver forms relationships with each of the small clusters. During this phase, the weaver learns about each individual or small cluster, discovering what they know and what they need. The weaver begins connecting those individuals and clusters who can collaborate or assist one another in some way. Concurrently the weaver begins encouraging others to begin weaving the network as well.

2. Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach

As the weaver connects with many groups, information soon flows into the weaver about each group’s skills, goals, successes and failures. An intelligent weaver can now start to introduce clusters that have common goals/interests or complementary skills and experiences. As clusters connect, their spokes to the hub can weaken, freeing up the weaver to attach to new groups. Although the spoke links weaken, they never disappear. They remain weaker dormant ties able to be re-activated whenever necessary. In order to accommodate new connections, the weaver must teach others how to weave their own network.

3. Network Facilitator or Organizer

As the overall network grows, the role of the weaver changes from being the central weaver, to being a facilitator of network weaving throughout the community. There are two parts to network weaving. One is relationship building, particularly across traditional divides, so that people have access to innovation and important information. The second is learning how to facilitate collaborations for mutual benefit. Collaborations can vary from simple and short term-entrepreneurs purchasing supplies together to complex and long-term such as a major policy initiative or creation of a venture fund. This culture of collaboration creates a state of emergence, where the outcome, a healthy community, is more than the sum of the many collaborations. The local interactions create a global outcome that no one could accomplish alone. This transition from network weaver to network facilitator is critical. The original weaver is creating new weavers who will eventually take over much of the network building and maintenance. If the change is not made, then the community network remains dependent on the central weaver who is now probably overwhelmed with connections. At the transition point, the weaver changes from being a direct leader to an indirect leader, influencing new emergent leaders appearing throughout the community. This transition is necessary for the network to increase its scale, impact and reach.

4. Network Guardian

For Holley and Krebs (2006), a Network Guardian is like a “Blakian” angel who mentally flies over the network, notices what could make a difference for the network at that point in time and helps make that happen. A Network Guardian might see the need for an article in the paper about the importance of networks, or might work with a local funder to set up an innovation fund that provides seed money to self-organized collaborative. This a great role for foundations. They often have information about the many organizations in their community or region and in their networks, and thus have the bird’s eye view needed to be a Network Guardian. They have access to the public venues where they can “reframe”: extolling the importance of openness to new ideas, explaining the intricacies of self-organization, and encouraging collaboration. At this point, the network weaver’s initial task is mostly completed. Now, attention turns toward network maintenance and building bridges with other networks. The network weaver can begin to form inter-regional alliances to create new products, services and markets or to shape and influence policies that will strengthen the community or region. This happens by connecting network cores to each other utilizing their peripheries. The network weaver maximizes the reach of the periphery into new areas, while keeping the core strong. The weaver now focuses on projects of large substance that will have major impact on the community.

A question that often remains unanswered in leadership research is “who are the leaders in an organization, their roles in building relationships and what are the new leaders’ development plan, the training that should be given to them, in order for them to be fit?”. As a manager moves into a leadership role, his or her network must reorient itself externally and toward the future (Ibarra & Hunter, 2007).

There is a need to know and understand network leadership. Many of the managers, in the study of Ibarra and Hunter (2007) question why they should spend precious time on an activity so indirectly related to the work at hand. Why widen one’s circle of casual acquaintances when there isn’t time even for urgent managerial tasks? The answer is that these contacts provide important referrals, information, and, often, developmental support such as coaching and mentoring (for their people) for this instance. For Ibarra and Hunter, (2007), personal networking will not help a manager through the leadership transition unless they learn how to bring those connections to bear on organizational strategy. Making a transition from being a functional manager to a business leader requires that they must be concerned with broad strategic corporate issues.

Today, the business environment continues to have intense global competition. It is essential for organizations to constantly train their human resources. The designed training programs must address strategic business needs and training needs and must systematically use the appropriate management tools (Narasimhan & Ramanarayanan, 2014).

In the banking sector, intensive training is conducted to upgrade the employees’ relational and technological skills so that they can efficiently perform their duties in the changing business environment that is highly demanding and competitive. The employees working at various levels in banking technology, e-learning and other areas have to take up the training program. Most banks invest in training programs to enhance the skills of their employees. Studies show that when employees are properly trained, there is significant improvement in their productivity and performance. An assessment of the training program is still needed to actualize increase in productivity (Narasimhan & Ramanarayanan, 2014).

In terms of technology, every employee must imbibe a culture of collaboration in the use of technology for more productive internal operations and better processes to enhance customer relations. Companies that make technology an essential part of their corporate culture are leaders in their industries. Management must encourage senior employees, managers and executives to embrace the new technologies and creatively use them to advance productivity in the workplace.

In the chosen Company of this research, tenured employees were with the company for more than 15 years before it was acquired by the new owners. Too many people were hooked to the traditional ways of working and were resistant to technological advances in the workplace.

More importantly, leaders should ask themselves: does the company have the technology and corporate culture needed to ensure that it will have the most productive workforce and the best interaction with the marketplace? If the answer is no, then it is now time to initiate a change in leadership. The new type of leaders exhaust technology to conduct business in entirely new ways in all key areas of the business.

The job of the bank branch manager continues to be the most challenging in terms of the leadership role. Basically, transactional leadership is greatly practiced if the managers deliver and achieve their quota because of a wider network of clients that boost their performance. In a vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment (Bennett & Lemoine, 2014), it is vital for managers to interact with clients regularly and quickly to gain their trust and to obtain customer loyalty. As a result of network leadership, branch managers are recognized and are given performance bonus, incentives and a good appraisal rating in their scorecards that can lead to their promotion. While the branch managers should continue to be the leader in relational matters, they collaborate with their people, peers and clients all the time. Bank managers should always know how to take advantage of branch visits to solidify their relationships with employees and customers (Ibarra & Hunter, 2007).

Therefore, it is a challenge to make the leap from a lifetime of functional contributions and hands-on control to the ambiguous process of building and working through networks. Leaders must find new ways of defining themselves and develop new relationships to anchor and feed their emerging personas. They must also accept that networking is one of the most important requirements of their new leadership roles and continue to allocate enough time and effort to see it pay off (Ibarra & Hunter, 2007).

This study used the Independent Variable and Dependent Variable Model (IVDV) framework, which determined the cause and effect relationship of the variables (Cooper et al., 2011. The operational framework in Figure 1 depicted the relationships of the network leadership with the attributes/characteristics of the Connector, Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach, Network Facilitator or Organizer and Guardian, and Network Guardian. Specifically, the framework showed the possibility of the relationship of the network leadership at the competency level/matrix of the employees particularly the branch managers. As a dependent variable, competency level determined where the branch managers’ competency would fit in. Competency levels were identified as: High, Above Average, Average and Low.

The study aimed to find out if the competencies were related to the different attributes or characteristics of network leadership. The moderating or interaction variable was included as a second independent variable because it has a significant contributory or contingent effect on the original IV-DV relationship. The arrow pointing from the moderating variable to the arrow between IV and DV showed the difference between an IV directly impacting the DV and a MV affecting the relationship between an IV and the DV. The moderating variables are Gender, Length of Service in the Company, Educational Attainment and their Locale/Place of Assignment. The overall output of the study was designing the appropriate training program for the managers based on their competency-based needs.


The population for this study consisted of employees of the bank from different groups of respondents in the organization, particularly in the Retail Banking Group (RBG) which manages the operations of all the branches of the universal bank in various locations in Metro Manila and provincial areas. As such, RBG has two different functions, Service and Sales. In this study, the Sales division was used as this department takes responsibility on direct interactions with clients and different networks in the Branch. Respondents were the Branch Managers (Self), their Subordinates, and their Immediate Superior/Branch Managers’ immediate superior.

The study of Sessa, Kabacoff, Deal & Brown (2007) contributed to the body of knowledge in understanding what differences are occurring among managers in different units in terms of attributes they value in leaders and their actual behaviors as leaders (as perceived by self, boss, and subordinates).

The objectives of the study were answered using descriptive statistics such as mean, standard deviation, frequency and percentage to present the profile of the managers. Network leadership was measured using mean and standard deviation. Moreover, in determining whether there exists a significant difference in the network leadership by the different group of respondents, one way ANOVA was utilized with multiple comparisons. In determining whether there was a relationship between competency and their profile, Pearson-R correlation was used for age and length of service, while Spearman-R was utilized for Competency Level. Also, Point Biserial correlation and Chi Square were used. Lastly, ANOVA on repeated measures was utilized in determining whether there exists a significant difference in the responses of subordinates, supervisor and their self-assessment. All significant tests were at 5% level. All statistical computations were guided with the use of the MedCalc Statistical Software.

The instruments used were:  (1). The Attributes of Network Leadership Questionnaire by Holley and Krebs, (2006) and (2). The Competency Assessment Form which measured the degree of competence of the leaders/Business Center Managers based on the subordinates’ and immediate superiors’ perception on the different attributes of network leadership.

Part A was the demographic background of respondents, such as gender, length of service in the company, educational attainment and locale/place of assignment and organizational tenure.

Part B was the Network Weaver Roles Checklist by June Holley (2013), revised with permission from the authors, with questions on preferred training which will be given to the Managers, if given a chance.

Part C, was the Leadership Competency Assessment Form used by the company itself, in determining the aptitude of the incumbent employees with regard to the prescribed leadership competencies. Statements on the questionnaire for Network Leadership Attributes and Competency Assessment were answered using the four-point scale


Network Leadership Attributes

The following data summarize the attributes needed to be a network leader assessed by the three (3) different sets of respondents: branch manager (self), subordinates and immediate superiors.

  1. Leaders as Connector. The overall mean of 1.57 (self), 1.71 (subordinate) and 1.62 (supervisor) all suggest that employees have high knowledge and skills in terms of connector. As a whole, the respondents from both subordinates and immediate superiors strongly agree that the attributes of the branch manager being a Connector on the over-all mean of 1.71 and 1.62, respectively are what they observed among their managers.



Self Organized Project Coordinator. Results of over-all mean of 1.59 (self), 1.63 (subordinate) and 1.75 (supervisor) all suggest that employees have high knowledge and skills in terms of Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach. Moreover, the resulting p value of 0.227 denotes that there exists no significant difference in the mean score of self-assessment, rating from subordinate and immediate supervisor.

Network Facilitator or Organizer. Attributes of network leaders as to network facilitator or organizer resulted in the overall mean of 1.65 (Self) and 1.68 (Subordinate) and the resulting p value is 0.093.

Self Organized Project Coordinator. Results of over-all mean of 1.59 (self), 1.63 (subordinate) and 1.75 (supervisor) all suggest that employees have high knowledge and skills in terms of Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach. Moreover, the resulting p value of 0.227 denotes that there exists no significant difference in the mean score of self-assessment, rating from subordinate and immediate supervisor.

Network Guardian. Overall mean of 1.74 (Self) suggests that employees consider themselves as having a high level of knowledge and skills in terms of Network Guardian, while subordinate (1.93) and immediate superior (1.96) rated their branch managers’ network guardian level of knowledge and skills as above average. The p value of 0.003 indicates that the mean 1.74 of self-assessment (branch managers) was significantly different (lower in mean value) than the mean subordinate (1.93) and immediate superior (1.96).

  1. Competency level of the Branch Manager assessed by themselves and their Immediate Superiors. The following data summarize the competency level assessed by the branch managers for themselves and by their immediate superiors.

Competency Self-Assessment of Branch Managers. Results show that the self-assessment of branch managers for themselves suggest that they have high level of competency in terms of leading themselves (3.38), interactions (3.32), people (3.43), work (3.38) and change (3.36). This denotes that they consistently go beyond the prescribed behavior and they display leadership/mentoring in each of the indicators below.

Competency Assessment of Immediate Superiors to Branch Managers. The assessment of their immediate superiors is tha the employees have above average level of competency on leading self (2.79), interactions (2.66), people (2.67), work (2.92) and change (2.75). These suggest that their immediate supervisors think that their managers go beyond the prescribed behavior and they display leadership/mentoring skills in each of the indicators below.

Extent to which the attributes influence the Network Leadership as perceived by the groups of respondents

The following data summarize the extent to which the attributes influence the Network Leadership as perceived by the groups of respondents by the three (3) different respondents: branch manager (self), subordinates, and immediate superiors.

  1. Connector Attribute. When it comes to the extent to which the attributes of network leadership as to Connector which influence the group of respondents such as self (Branch Manager), subordinates and immediate superior, the mean scores are 1.57, 1.71 and 1.62 respectively. This indicates a high extent of influence for them. The resulting p value of 0.199 denotes that there exists no significant difference in the mean score of self-assessment, as rated by subordinate and immediate supervisor.
  1. Self-Organized Project Coordinator and Coach Attribute. Subordinates and immediate superior observed from the mean score of 1.59, 1.63 and 1.75 respectively, show a high extent of influence to all the respondents. P value of 0.227 denotes that there exists no significant difference in the mean score of self-assessment, rating from subordinate and immediate supervisor.

Network Facilitator or Organizer Attribute. Respondents described the extent to which the attributes of network leadership as to Network Facilitator or Organizer which influence the group of respondents as resulting overall mean of 1.65 (self) and 1.68 (subordinate) suggest that employees have high knowledge and skills in terms of Network Facilitator or Organizer. P value of 0.093 indicates that the mean 1.85 of supervisor is significantly different or higher in mean value than the mean self-assessment, which means that the supervisor rated the employees knowledge and skills lower as compared to their self-assessment.

  1. Network Guardian Attribute. With regard to Network Guardian attributes over-all mean of 1.74 (self) suggest that employees consider themselves as having a high level of knowledge and skills in terms of Network Guardian, while subordinate (1.93) and supervisor (1.96) rated their network guardian level of knowledge and skills as above average. P value of 0.003 indicates that the mean 1.74 of self-assessment is significantly different or lower in mean value than the mean subordinate (1.93) and supervisor (1.96).


            Based on the findings the following conclusions and recommendations were drawn:

  1. As perceived by the branch managers, subordinates, and immediate superiors, the attributes of Network Leadership have a high extent of influence for their managers. This means that the bank managers see the four (4) attributes as important factors in relating among themselves, collaborating, being productive not only in their respective areas of responsibilities but for the whole organization.
  2. The perception of both subordinates and immediate superior influences the development in the attributes that should be possessed by the branch managers, and that these would influence the increase in the development of their leadership skills and competencies over time.
  3. The branch managers rated themselves higher than the assessments/rating given to them by their immediate superiors. This means that branch managers assessed themselves as capable of having the different competencies such as leading self, leading interactions, leading people, leading work and leading change as managers.
  4. The branch managers identified the skills which they needed to improve on as communication, innovation and building their relational skills.
  5. Branch managers scored high in their roles as Connector, Self Organized Project Coordinator and Coach. The managers scored low in their roles as Network Facilitator and as Network Guardian.
  6. Age has a significant relationship in the competency level of the branch managers. The longer the time the managers stay with the organization, the greater the increase in their relational competence. The chronological maturity together with the years of work experience are factors that helped promote Network Leadership capabilities, while gender does not correlate with their competency. It was evident that individual differences of men and women must be considered in Network Leadership, depending on the predominant influence of the mind, heart, and spirit proclivity of the leader. Network Leaders may use power and authority based on traditional masculine ethics of utilitarianism, rights, and justice or 21st century ethics of care and nurturance.
  7. The perception of the branch managers regarding their competency level is much higher than the immediate superiors’ rating for the branch managers. It appeared that the branch managers have a good self -image regarding their areas of responsibility in Leading Self, Interactions, People, Work and Change. On the other hand, the immediate superiors (like the Vice President), who possess a wider perspective of the organizational network more knowledge on the performance and competencies of their branch managers.
  8. There is a significant relationship among the four network leadership attributes. Operationally, for the Network Leader as a Connector, the branch managers directly relate with people within the branch as well as with the external network outside the Branch, namely, the Head Office and other Branches nationwide. As the Self-Organized Project Coordinator, the manager helps the members of the branches by mentoring, teaching, guiding and developing them to perform their job and relate with the clients. When necessary, the managers communicate with the external network, like the Head Office and the Branches, and mentor, teach, and ensure secure links with these external networks. As Network Facilitators, the branch managers continuously coordinate within the Branch and with the external Network. Lastly, as Network Guardian, Network Leader ensures that the maintenance of the relationship for the internal and external network remains strong and uninterrupted.
  9. The low scores of the branch managers have to be addressed in terms of training and development in the areas of communication, innovations and collaborating/building relational skills.

            Leadership is reshaping the competitive and operating landscape for banks. Today, banks face competition from tech-enabled competitors .  There is a need to accelerate structural changes that go beyond technological transformation of banking networks. Although technology becomes increasingly central to all facets of bank strategy and operations , the study showed that the  bank  needs  a more holistic, strategic view beyond  technology investment. Training and Development is needed  in its changing environment.

A training program should be designed to address the communication, innovation and relational skills of the Branch Managers.   A training program is recommended particularly on Network Leadership with the topics:  Building, Nurturing and Maintaining Networks.

By clarifying supervisory expectations as a cornerstone of supervision, the study highlighted heightened expectations for Networking Leadership engagement relative to bank executives. There remain opportunities to improve the role of the bank managers in this area of networking leadership and their realistic expectations for what it can accomplish.


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