Developing Global Mindset Will Produce A Successful Global Leader

With Melissa Lamson, Interviewed by Hana Al-Abadi

Q: How would you define ‘global mind-set’?

A: Global mind-set means how does one understand the way the world works today. That is; the values, behaviors, and attitudes in business and how does that impact the interactions one has with others in a professional situation. Global mind-set is the next evolution of intercultural communication and diversity because it not only emphasizes those cultural or individual behaviors but goes beyond to investigate how it logistically and tactically works in other countries. For example how are vendors selected, what are hiring practices across countries, and what are other’s expectations in making presentations.

Q: How is a global leader different from a leader?

A: Today, I don’t think there are many leaders that don’t work internationally. And I believe that all leaders need to have the perspective of being able to work and negotiate out of the country context they’re in. But what’s different from a “local leader” is that global leaders are savvy when it comes to understanding how business works around the world and they truly empathize and understand how it works across multiple country locations.

Q: What are the top 3 skills a global leader needs to acquire? Can they do this on the job or is it something that needs to be intentionally trained?

A: Global mind-set can definitely be trained but it does start with a basic premise of will. Such as do I want to understand? Do I accept the fact that I don’t know what I don’t know. So I would say the first skill would be a good global leader asks the question “what don’t I know?” The second skill would be the ability to truly listen and to empathize and ask probing questions. I sometimes say to leaders “act like an anthropologist, observe, ask questions, probe, listen, and reflect back.” The third skill would be to be able to make decisions clearly and quickly in different types of contexts because if someone is too concerned about being sensitive to other cultures, then they are too afraid to make a decision. It’s critical to get to the point, get to the result, make a decision and move on and people respect that around in the world.

Q: You have traveled to numerous countries all over the world, out of all the countries you have visited (if you can choose one) which country do you think has the best way of doing business?

A: I can’t really evaluate “best” but I do like the business practices in the Nordic countries such as Sweden. They have a very strong emphasis on equality between men and women. They really emphasize life balance.  Denmark, for example, consistently gets #1 on the list for the “most content people in the world”. What I also found fascinating was when I was in India, the people have a combination of brain power, technical competence and are also amazingly good at social interaction. The combination of IQ and EQ is truly amazing to see. They are so people oriented and at the same time so incredibly smart.

Q: What about communication best practices? Is there a country or culture that excels in business communication?

A: It sounds a bit biased, but I do like the speed and convenience in the way  the U.S. communicates in business. I think it’s a strength that they take risks, quickly make decisions and move on. I also very much respect the fact that Germany will look at a problem from several different angles so that they understand something thoroughly before they take action.

Q: What is one tip that you don’t  hear about doing business globally that would help executives improve their global business interaction?

A: Leaders generally have a team that work for them – handlers, if you will – and it’s very important that that team is globally savvy. If leaders surround themselves with people like that, then they will look more competent in their messaging, scheduling, way of interacting. The first thing I would do as a leader is assess my entire team – the inner circle working for me – and ensure they know how the world works.

Find out more on Global Mindset and Global Leadership and what leaders need to do to develop both:

Avoid Promoting Spectacular Engineers to Terrible Managers

Recently, a top executive at an infamous global high-tech firm said, “The problem in Silicon Valley is we promote excellent engineers and expect them to be spectacular managers.” He contended that without solid people and management skills, excellent engineers are set up to fail as managers. He went on to say that the qualities of a highly qualified engineer don’t necessarily translate to good people management.

Managing people requires “über-communication”; listening, coaching, relationship-building, engaging, and all methods of communication which support and leverage the capabilities of other people. Engineers are used to working on specific projects – often autonomously – and have the special ability to bury themselves in tasks to reach completion. Although the end result is high-quality, the process often has very little interaction with the outside world. It is a different set of criteria and skills than managing; mostly relying on left-brain function, analytical thinking and technical capabilities.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that excellent engineers can’t be spectacular managers, but it does mean that companies need to ensure they have the following in place before promoting engineers to managerial positions:

1) An understanding of the challenges and the different sets of criteria for each role and

2) A program in place to allow managers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to do the job well

Additionally, here are 5 things to consider when you want to promote excellent individual engineers into managerial positions:

1)     Make sure a manager role is what they want. It doesn’t have to necessarily be the logical progression and some may not even want that kind of role, make sure expectations have been communicated clearly.

2)     Remember IQ doesn’t equal EQ. Just because someone is intelligent and brilliant, doesn’t mean they have good social or people skills. Emotional intelligence is a critical component to being a successful people manager.

3)     We don’t hire untrained engineers, why would we hire untrained managers? It is astounding how many companies don’t provide managerial training or may offer it reactively when things get tough or the organization goes through a change process.

4)     Keep them out of the weeds. Engineers like to “tinker”. They have a tendency focus on details rather than big picture. Try to encourage them to delegate and show how they can still be seen as an expert advice-giver, rather than the one who tinkers.

5)     Assess & train cross-cultural skills. Communication is one thing, communicating across cultures adds another level of complexity. Make sure managers understand what it means to work across cultures, particularly when working virtually, globally.

For more information about developing your management programs and manager coaching, contact Lamson Consulting at



The Key to Global Life Balance: Strengthen Your Resilience

Do you ever ask yourself why some colleagues seem to be able to handle stress? Or why, after a long day at work, your colleague asks who wants to go for a drink, while you long for a comfortable evening at home? These individuals do exist – those who seem able to manage all kinds of stress without a problem and remain cheerful despite all the global work pressures. What characterizes these colleagues is their resilience. By not sticking their heads in the sand, but optimistically facing each new situation that arises in the international work world, the stress they endure does not leave negative effects.

What is resilience?

First of all the good news: resilience in not inborn, we can all learn to strengthen our resources, face difficulties, take on challenges, and grow. Resilience stands for taking a positive, winning view of things. It places resources and possibilities in focus – not dangers and deficits.

Resilience means being able to stand up to global pressures, being optimistic and flexible, taking responsibility and planning for the future. “But we always do it that way!” Is not something resilient employees would say. Instead, their motto would be, “Let’s try something new.”

Why is resilience important for you

Those who are able to see professional changes and global challenges as an opportunity leave less room for stress to develop. For whatever we achieve and master creates optimism and contributes to our sense of self-confidence. By discovering your resilient capacities, using them, and expanding them, you can lower your own stress level. You will notice that much of what once might have been a source of stress no longer throws you off track so easily. Not only are you doing something for your physical and mental well-being, but you are also promoting your ability to achieve at work. In the end, the whole team profits from a working environment in which stress no longer dominates.

How to strengthen your resilience

Anyone can learn resilience. You can strengthen your resources best by working on your personality and your attitude. Leave the victim role behind and see the possibilities offered by supposed stress situations. A long-distance business trip to a global location need not only entail travel stress, but can also allow you insights into other cultures. Taking personal responsibility can show your special leadership qualities and help you develop a global mindset. And after many hours of overtime in order to finish an important project, you can look forward to the free time that awaits you.

Resilience is not something that comes from one day to the next, it has to be lived and learned. With each small step, you stand up to your stress and no longer allow it to gain the upper hand.

The Best Anti-Stress Tips for the Work Day:

  • Positive energy: You reap what you sow. With a smile on your face and respect for your colleagues, you can contribute to a more easygoing atmosphere at your workplace, the best way to avoid excessive stress. A friendly “good morning” or a “please” or “thank you” can often work wonders.
  • Accept challenges: You’re stronger than you think! Whether it’s your first presentation before a larger audience, the first project where you had sole responsibility, or a change to a new area: don’t see new challenges as a source of stress. For we grow with new challenges: what today is a cause for concern might be a gain tomorrow.
  • Communicate openly: Honesty is always best in the long run. By keeping the lines of communication open in your team – particularly in your cross cultural team – letting them know what causes you stress, what workload you can master without difficulty, or how much time or help is required, your needs can be met. In this way, various aspects of stress can be eliminated or mastered jointly.
  • Be aware of your limits and take breaks: Lunch at the computer? No, thank you. If you want to fight stress, you need time to recharge. So be sure to plan regular breaks: a brief change of location, fresh air, or a conversation with colleagues can provide new strength. In an acute stress situation, it is helpful to take a break and to take a few deep breaths.
  • Set realistic goals: Often stress arises because people have taken on too much. You don’t need to be equally good at everything: the better you know your abilities, the more successfully you can do your job. Set yourself realistic goals – the best device against self-made stress.
  • Find something that can guarantee the equilibrium in your private life: Even for those who work a lot, work isn’t everything. Healthy work-life management entails a balance between professional and private life. Whether it’s the family, travel, hobbies, or exercise: the main thing is that you can forget about work and leave office stress behind you. Rituals can often help, whether it’s the daily breakfast with the family or a regular evening just for partners or friends.
  • Laughing keeps us healthy: Humor makes us strong and resilient, and this is naturally also true for the workplace. Laughing with colleagues is not just fun, but helps us bond with one another: the next stress situation is thus only half as bad, because the team shares the burden.
  • Movement provides energy: Even if you feel exhausted after a long workday, just a little exercise ensures a palpable increase of energy. Sport wakes us up and clears our mind! We feel more fit and live. And a positive side effect: with the right exercise, you can avoid muscle strain and back pain!

Reprinted with permission from Global Health Management at SAP.