July 2017, Volume 1, Issue 3

Global Leadership at Its Best

“Show me what you’re made of”


American culture is about doing, accomplishing, getting results, but American culture is much more forgiving of mistakes.

In the end, it’s about what you’re made of and what you’ve made of yourself, what you are, not who you are…as in your family and background.

This ideal stems from a deeply rooted American value: Equality and the idea of a “fresh start.”

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” but “What have you done lately?”

How might this type of paradoxical thinking affect you when on a global assignment? Let’s say you are in a culture where “who you are” prevails over “what you are?” How might you attempt to shift your thinking and reactions to those around you?

Reverse the thought and see what insights you come up with.

Thriving in Foreign Cultures

Maintaining Identity

Do not answer these questions! Instead, think about how you dress or act in your home country that lets people know the answers to them non-verbally.

In your home country, how do you show people, non-verbally…:

what part/region of your country you are from? _________________________________

what education/degree(s) you have? _________________________________________

what social class you are in? _______________________________________________

what your political beliefs are? ______________________________________________

what your religion is? _____________________________________________________

whether you are artistic/creative? ____________________________________________

whether you are athletic? __________________________________________________

whether you are married? __________________________________________________

how important your career is? _____________________________________________

how much money you earn? ______________________________________________

whether or not you are interested in getting to know romantic partners? _____________


Compare some of your non-verbal responses to those of the culture or work environment you are in. How are they different or similar?

Building an awareness of non-verbal communication is a step in the right direction to decoding communication and its meaning.

Beyond Borders

Common Executive Challenges across the Globe

Below you will find the most common challenges leaders face when managing internationally:

  • Effective Management – Managing time, prioritizing, decision-making, strategic thinking and being more effective at work ranks number one on every leader’s agenda no matter where in the world they live or work. However, understanding how time is perceived in different cultures will ensure you are managing your time effectively and prioritizing projects properly in the office. Time awareness spills over into decision-making and strategic planning as well. Professional global leaders take the time to understand time across international boundaries.
  • Inspiring People – Motivating people, ensuring they are satisfied with their work and inspiring them to work smarter, ranks number two as a priority for leaders across the globe. Getting things done with people, is another top challenge for global leaders, but how can you effectively do this if you do not understand what actually motivates people from different cultural backgrounds? Top leaders learn how to motivate effectively in different cultures. Even, those who work in one culture must learn this valuable skill; their teams are no longer homogeneous.
  • Employee Development – Mentoring and coaching people from different backgrounds and varied cultures is a difficult task for most all global leaders. However, understanding how best to guide people of differing cultural backgrounds is crucial for success in your organization. Making sure your talent pool is diversified is as important as knowing how to develop your people to be the best they can be while working within the confines of their cultural backgrounds. Without this skill, leaders know they will never fully achieve a diverse work team.
  • Team Leading – Team building and team development is a challenge, but managing a team while instilling pride and providing support is a greater challenge. In addition, leaders worry about how to best lead a large team and what to do when taking over a new team. My number one tip here is: Stop thinking you must get things done THROUGH people and shift your thinking to getting things done WITH Ninety percent of the world’s population live collectively, they don’t’ get things done through others, that implies you use people, instead, they work with people and together as a team they accomplish great things.
  • Leading Change – Managing, mobilizing, understanding and leading change is a priority for all leaders, but overcoming resistance to change and learning how to handle employees’ reaction to change is a real challenge for the global leader. This concept spills into the realm of effective communication. If you are not successful in communicating to your varied audience, leading change will be very difficult if not downright impossible.
  • Stakeholders and Politics – The challenge of managing up, handling relationships, dealing with politics, and maintaining a positive image of oneself is a daunting task, now, add gaining “buy-in” from other departments, groups and individuals and you are facing a real challenge, not only in your home country office, but while traveling and while working on global assignments.

Top leaders realize that in order to manage relationships and deal effectively with politics, they themselves must be aware of their Global Leadership Persona™, they must constantly adjust and improve themselves in order to gain buy-in from those around them in the organization, those outside their organization, their customers and even their competition.

No matter where in the world you are leading, building an awareness of the common challenges executives face allows you to handle them effectively while adjusting your Global Leadership Persona™ effectively.

So how do you do this? How do you keep up with these core challenges?

The paradox that most executives who have been successful in their home setting usually experience is that they most likely believe that they are already culturally adept. They often find it difficult to accept that their approaches to doing things are not universal, nor even optimal in other cultures. If they hit a roadblock, they may find it uncomfortable to adjust because they have become so accustomed on relying on the techniques that have served them well for so long. The most important change such leaders can make is to build their internal awareness of their mindsets and how those mindsets affect their behaviors.

A tip:

  • Let of go of the “I’m in charge attitude.” The, “I have all the answers.” “I am here to show and inform you, because you don’t know that much.” Change your perspective from a mode of telling to a mode of inquiry, for example: “I need to find out how we can best do this together.” “I need to watch and learn all that I can about my environment before implementing changes or working with others.”

With this mindset and attitude, you will be able to navigate effectively across any kind of cultural difference with ease and respect from those around you. You will transcend national, regional, ethnic, generational, religious or organizational boundaries and those you must lead will favor and respect you for it.

Your career will soar with an open mindset and you will be able to transfer your skills from China to England, from Australia to Canada, from the USA to Brazil with ease and confidence, no matter where in the world you find yourself.

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