Tag Archives: Global Executive coaching

Intercultural training important to expats’ success


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Intercultural training programs are designed to develop cultural awareness and speed the transition process, by providing employees and their families with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to effectively interact across cultures.

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Wanted: True Global Business Leaders !


What makes a business leader a true global business leader?

One of the most important mission of a business leader is to improve bottom-line results by having a clear vision, shared values and a mission statement that inspire, motivate and engage employees .

The job of a true global leader is the same as any business leader except that for companies operating globally those executives MUST integrate in the company strategy the cultural differences in customers’ preferences and local social rules to lead employees across borders.

Developing cultural Intelligence is key for global leaders who usually share same curiosity and interest in other cultures, do not judge but have a thirst to learn cultural differences.

Cultural intelligence cannot be learned by simply visiting different countries for few weeks, learning languages, attend cross-cultural webinars or read books.

Cultural intelligence is acquired by being exposed directly to cross-cultural  challenges at work and everyday life, preferably with family.

Regarding following spouse and children, too often their role in the expatriate executive’s performance and success is overlooked. From personal experience the working partner and the following family members face totally different challenges.The addition of the two experiences deepen the acquisition of the local culture.

The executive team should reflect the diversity of the company’s customers and employees. Unfortunately there is still the “white men” , ethnocentric leadership style that is most prevalent today, except for companies such as America-based Coca-Cola or German-based Henkel  that have long history of having a multicultural top management team.

In a previous article why white men can’t lead  I gave several references gathering evidence that today’s leadership models, although they may differ from person to person and method to method, generally have a common bias toward Western or European-influenced ways of thinking.

How To Develop True Global Business Leaders ?

Future global top executives must manage their career both horizontally across functions and countries and vertically starting by spending some time being one of the front-line employees (sales and customer services, research or manufacturing for example). They can acquire knowledge in the same company if this one has a good global talent development program but most global executives have experienced different companies and various industries.

This practical experience is needed to develop the skills of a global leaders because “global” does not only means cross-cultural leadership but also to have a holistic view of the company as a whole entity including:

1-A strong corporate culture: Company explicit and implicit rules and guidelines, leadership style, vision, values, mission

2-Local cultures: Countries and regions where the company operate:  Language (verbal and body language), religion, cultural values and  norms, communication styles

3-Each individual team member’s own culture, values, beliefs, set of norms

To develop cultural intelligence you need to be a chameleon who is able to change its color to reflect its environment. Usually it is mandatory to have lived several years abroad, in at least two totally different cultures, across different continents, speak minumum two languages including being fluent in business English.

Effective global leaders must create TRUST regardless of ethnicity or country of origin by actively listening to everybody’s ideas before making a decision concerning the introduction of a new product or service in a foreign market.

Here a great video illustrating the process of acquiring cultural intelligence: 

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Are you a global leader ? Please share your story on how you became one

Beyond Motivation: How to Engage Employees To Boost The Economy


English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...

According to the latest Gallup survey on American employee’s productivity conducted in 201,  only 29% of employees were engaged or involved and enthusiastic about their job. In contrast 71 % of full-time workers, were “not engaged” including 20% miserable or actively disengaged. These findings are really shocking  and very disheartening. Miserable employees are simply ignored, they are disconnected from the company’s goals, often scared to lose their job, taking sometimes additional workload from a colleague who has been laid-off.

Can sustainable organizations ignore employee’ s morale ?  Cutting costs has direct impact on the bottom line but not necessarily in the desired way:

“miserable employees create miserable customers” 

For the most part the recovery of the American economy is dependent on the innovation capacity of America Inc.  If employees are not intrinsically motivated chances are very high that they are not creative as well. and won’t work hard enough as passionate people do according to  Steve Jobs in a video about the rules for success.  I cannot agree more and I have observed the power of passion in people at any level and any function of organizations and across cultures.

Passion is putting you in a state of “flow” where you ignore fatigue or hunger because you are so engaged by what you do that you ignore the time you spend on a particular activity, you are intrinsically rewarded by what you do and truly happy. The concept of “flow” has been introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a psychologist making connections between satisfaction and daily activities in his book: ” Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience“.

Being passionate is coming from the inside-out. You can break somebody’s motivation  very easily but it is very hard for leaders to inspire people to give happily the best of what they have to offer if they don’t want to and don’t have trust in the management.

High performance organizations know that engaged employees drive customer value and business performance. Good examples of such companies are Google or Zappos with its CEO’s vision of putting his people first.

HOW TO BOOST EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ?

Gallup measures employees’ engagement by collecting the answers of the following 12 survey items listed bellow.

If you want to engage people you need to provide what it takes for them to say YES to a maximum of the questions:

  • Q01. I know what is expected of me at work.
  • Q02. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • Q05. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • Q07. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • Q08. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
  • Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • Q10. I have a best friend at work.
  • Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • Q12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The Three ‘E’s of Engagement: Engage, Empower, Enable:

  • Engage: leaders must provide a clear view of the company’s future, connect the company values with the individual life purpose,  identify individual contribution to a higher level than self .  Employees who feel good about themselves and think they belong to a team get the intrinsic motivation  to deliver performance.
  • Empower: Let people decide how to set goals, how to  get the expected results.  Increase their personal power in making decisions at all level of the organizations. The leaders’ role  is  to coach and mentor individuals and teams to remove self-limiting beliefs, provide immediate feedbacks and develop strengths while minimizing the impact of weaknesses
  • EnableProvide highly personalized support and enough resources.  Lead  teams based on matching  personal communication, behavior and management styles of each team member. Provide talent development programs.

How Do You Measure Employee’s Engagement and Creativity ?

What Is You Recipe To Stimulate Creativity and Innovation In Your Company ?

Related Articles:


Why Changing For The Sake Of Change Is Not Always A Good Idea.


questionmarksChange is inevitable, we all agree on that, but are we always forced to change because we live in a highly connected  fast-paced global environment ?  I think change for the sake of change has nothing to do with true innovation and fostering creativity or acquiring new knowledge and learning the necessary new skills to stay competitive. I am not going to talk about creativity and change management here but you can read a very good article about The Innovation Catalysts on how to change ideas into great products or services.

If you are a small business owner, a corporate executive or an employee, do you think you have to change if you are satisfied and successful with who you are, what you do and with  most of the components of your work and life environments ?

I think there is a difference between being reactive to changes and anticipating changes but in both cases you need to balance the costs and risks associated with change versus the benefits you can expect to gain. You also need to plan carefully the changes by having first some research conducted and a sound strategy before implementing any new tactics, even a small one like changing a logo on a product or a color in your website.

For big or small businesses any change in brand identity such as image, logo, slogan, has an impact on the brand image and how the customers perceive the products or services.

People make decisions to buy from you or hire you more based on emotional needs than rational reasons. Buying is based on TRUST.

Changing any brand attribute may have a different impact if you consider potential new customers or existing loyal brand lovers with emotional bonds attached to it. In a majority of cases, loyal brand lovers hate change,  so why taking the risk of changing anything if you are not forced to do it due to change in competitive environment for example ?

So the question to ask before implementing any change is :

What additional value do I bring to my customers, employees and other stakeholders ? 

Do you have experience with companies that changed just for the sake of change and fail ? We all lean from failures but we don’t need to be one

Related Articles: 

The Expat Executive Dilemma: Multiple Bosses From Different Cultures


With the globalization more companies will adopt the matrix organization model and so it is not rare to have more than three to seven direct supervisors as described by Amy Galo in her article “Managing Multiple Bosses“. She also gave practical advises to deal with conflicts, loyalty issues or communication processes and illustrated her points with two case studies.

For expat executives all what is said in the above article is applicable  but it is usually more complex as you may have cultural clashes on top of conflicts of interests and battles for shared resources.

Country general managers of large multinational corporations often face integrity dilemma when definition of corporate governance differs greatly between the local business practices and the country where is based the global headquarters.

Not respecting local business etiquette and unspoken rules may increase the employees’ turnover and reduce competitiveness if the local manager cannot  have enough liberty and flexibility to adapt the instructions he receives from his global boss. On the other hand the expat executive should train local employees to understand the global corporate culture.

I have many examples of cultural clashes with multiple bosses from various cultures. If you are a regional business manager you deal with minimum 10 to 15 country general managers all from various cultural backgrounds. For example Japanese culture is almost the opposite to the American culture and  there is often miss-understanding regarding consensus and decision-making process. In  Japan decisions  are not made during a meeting while Americans interpret hand shaking at the end of the meeting as an agreement.

In Highly regulated markets like pharmaceuticals, the approval processes are not globally harmonized and the design of clinical trial has to be customized for the specific country ‘s approval authority. For example, if an US company wants to put on the market a new drug  in Mexico, it can use the data collected from clinical trials made in USA in agreement with the FDA standards but Brazil won’t take those data. The  European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products can approve a drug at the European level, but the price is still  controlled by each country, It is not rare that a drug sold in Belgium is not available  in France because it is too expensive for the social security system.

In conclusion with this high level of complexity I think  It is very important to integrate all cultural differences and engage expat executives at early stages of global process design including the company’s vision, global talent management programs or implementing  a six-sigma quality certification in manufacturing plants. Cross-cultural conflicts include cross-functional issues too.

More to read :

Do you think matrix organizations are best models ? Do you have alternative ideas?  What was the most difficult issues you had to deal with as an executive in matrix organizations ?

 


 

 

What Skills To Look For Hiring Global Executives ?


The most difficult challenge for an expat executive like a country general manager is to be able to find congruence between various opposite interests in a highly complex environment (see picture above).

The expat executive must be able to deal with local issues such  as specific regulations and laws then explain clearly the specificity of local markets and “sell” his decisions vertically and horizontally. Be able to dismantle silos in a matrix-type organization, managing up with board members, making internal alliances with peers and encouraging bottom up initiatives from multicultural cross-functional teams.

As an expat and multicultural team leader who lived and worked for 20 years in more than 10 countries for various industries and different management functions, I have seen many successful expat executives sharing same characteristics that for me are key skills to look for when considering sending people to international assignments or hiring locals at senior management level :

1- Attitude: Look for people who are leading by influence, able to federate people across cultures, able to lead trans-functional and virtual teams worldwide. Suitable personalities have high EQ and are pragmatic, open, curious, learners, risk-takers, negotiators, diplomats.

2-Cultural Intelligence: Knowledge about local customs,cultural traits,norms,social and business etiquette. Basic “survival” language skill is enough in most cases as business is often conducted in English. Don’t make the mistake to hire a local manager because he can speak English, check his leadership and technical skills.

3-Mentoring and Coaching Skills Usually an expat is sent from the HQs to share some technical knowledge or implement global processes such as performance evaluation. In each case make sure the person is  able to “glocalize”  or adapt locally  the company’s global vision, mission, values and principles, One very good example of “glocalization” of corporate culture is Starbucks

The challenge for global companies is to be able to have the right process to assess people globally both for internal succession planning, talent management or hiring new managers. Three components should be considered:

  1. Technical skills: operations, finance, markets, regulations, innovation, HR etc.
  2.  Leadership style: Top-down, bottom-up, influence, networking, lobbying, foster creativity
  3. Cultural intelligence: Group or individualistic cultures, knowledge of cultural dimensions, able to create a third culture team

Effective Problem Solving In Multicultural Teams



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The Edward de Bono‘s Six Thinking Hats method is a very practical approach to problem solving, making decisions and exploring new ideas.

Although it has not been specifically designed for multicultural teams, this tool is very effective for making the most of various thinking modes from people having different cultural backgrounds.

The Basics: There are six different imaginary hats that you can put on or take off. Each hat is a different color and represents a different type or mode of thinking. • Everybody wear the same hat (do the same type of thinking) at the same time. • When you change hats – you change our thinking.

The Benefits of Six Thinking Hats: 1. Provides a common language, 2. Allow diversity of thought , 3. Use more of our brains, 4. Removal of ego (reduce confrontation), 5. Focus (one thing at a time), 6. Save time, 7. Create, evaluate & implement action

The Coach Role : The coach or facilitator wears the Blue Hat. He defines the focus of the thinking, by asking questions like: Why we are here • What we are thinking about • Definition of the situation or problem • Alternative definitions • what we want to achieve • where we want to end up • What is the background to the thinking What we want to take away • What we want to achieve • Outcome • Conclusion • Design • Solution • Next steps •The coach plans the sequence and timing of the thinking • Ask for changes in the thinking • Handle requests from the group • Form periodic or final summaries of the thinking for consideration by the team

Participant’s Role • Follow the lead of the coach:• Stick to the hat (type of thinking) that is in current use • Try to work within the time limits • Contribute honestly & fully under each of the hats.

White Hat Thinking: 1. Neutral, objective information 2. Facts & figures 3. Questions: what do we know, what don’t we know, what do we need to know 4. Excludes opinions, judgments 5. Removes feelings & impressions

Green Hat Thinking :1. New ideas, 2.Concepts, 3.Perceptions 4.Deliberate creation of new ideas and Alternatives. 5. New approaches to problems • 6. Creative & lateral

Yellow Hat Thinking 1. Positive & speculative 2. Positive thinking, optimism, opportunity 3. Benefits 4. Best-case scenarios 5. Exploration

Black Hat Thinking: 1.Negative, critical judgement, 2.focus on errors, 3.Pessimistic view, 4. focus on why it won’t work

Red Hat Thinking :1. Emotions & feelings 2. Intuitions, impressions 3. Doesn’t have to be logical or consistent 4. No justifications, reasons or basis 5. All decisions are emotional in the end

Hats sequence in meetings: Hats can be used in different sequences depending on the expected outcome of the meeting. For example , you can use this sequence to explore a case:

1. Coach (Blue Hat) Open the discussion, Clarifying the problem •
2. Present the facts of the case (White Hat). •
3. Generate ideas, how the case could be handled (Green Hat). •
4. Evaluate the merits of the ideas, List benefits (Yellow Hat). •
5. List drawbacks (Black Hat). •
6. Get everybody gut feeling about the alternatives (Red Hat). •
7. Summaries, action plans, what’s next ?

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