The Legacy of Transformation: Lessons in Leadership from Nelson Mandela

When people are determined, they can overcome anything.” – Nelson Mandela

With Nelson Mandela’s death this month, a global spotlight has been shining on his cultural legacy. Some voices have focused on his role in ending Apartheid in 1994, while others have revisited the ensuing changes of South Africa – the growing economy, the country’s rising profile as a tourist destination and the spread of global investments. Yet while many are celebrating Mandela’s unique and nuanced brand of wisdom, few have applied his lessons toward our ever-evolving business landscape.

If you’ve watched South Africa’s national journey, then you’re no doubt familiar with the country’s values of “reconciliation” and “transformation” – key guideposts lighting South Africa’s path to transformation. Politicians, citizens, academics and business leaders are committed to shaping an environment of forgiveness and cooperation; of becoming a prosperous and peaceful country where differences are resolved in favor of fruitful collaboration and constructive long-term interests.

If you’re asking what that has to do with business dealings, the answer is quite a bit. South Africa today is not only an emerging market but an economic and cultural mirror of Mandela’s legacy. As such, it offers important lessons for businesses all over the globe that want to make a positive impact on the world.

Consider three of Mandela’s lessons in leadership.

Purposeful Work

When I visited Nelson Mandela’s former prison, one part that made a deep impact on me was the rock quarry. He and other prisoners worked here all day in the heat, breaking rocks with their bare hands – even though the rocks were later thrown out. It was brutal, senseless work, and stood in direct opposition to the passion and purpose that Mandela embodied.

It’s worth asking today, regardless of occupation, country or background: what are we accomplishing? How can we ensure our work has purpose and creates value in the world? Meaningful work is not just for the idealistic; all over the world, companies and leaders are infusing their corporate missions with lasting and practical value. Leading the charge are Millenials, who have been vocal in their interest in working for companies that are making a difference.

Moving Forward

One of Mandela’s most admired traits was his ability to forgive. Rather than holding onto anger and the divisions caused therein, he actively sought to embrace the future and foster the opportunities possible with reconciliation. This generous resolve is one of South Africa’s most defining features – and a reason the country has become such a rapid growth market. While severe poverty still exists, the economic outlook has improved dramatically for both townships and cities. Africans from all over the continent come to South Africa for employment, while the nation has become a magnet for foreign investment.

Why has the country experienced such a swift upswing? There’s less competition there when it comes to multinationals, which means higher ROI for many investors. There’s also a high demand for new products and services; South African telecom companies have added over 300 million subscribers over the last years. It’s no surprise that companies like Volkswagen, SAP, Cisco, General Electric and BMW have all found success there. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa members are Fortune 500 companies. By looking to the future, South Africa has catalyzed its own radical economic growth.

Social Responsibility

Sometimes buzz words become so popular that people fail to consider their deeper meaning. This is certainly true of social responsibility, and the ways we must honor the communities we invest in.

South Africa is a country like no other. With eleven official languages, multiple ethnic groups and rapid social change, the nation’s labor force and market conditions present a rich and rare opportunity. Africa as a continent is transforming itself to be a serious economic player, with many countries newly interested in entering that playing field. Yet to establish successful business connections, these international corporations must be committed to Africa as societal whole.

That means understanding the interrelationship between politics, business initiatives and social justice; it also means building relationships that show support and consideration of how a company’s investment impacts a community. Cultural awareness and diversity training, mentorship programs and initiatives that celebrate and honor the local culture are all vital elements in thriving global businesses. One example: SAP, the German software giant, created technology labs to help local children learn to use computers and prepare them for success in an increasingly digital world.

Nelson Mandela has left us, but his legacy of peaceful transformation lives on. Whether your business is seeking global expansion or simply to make a positive impact on its customers’ and employees’ lives, his lessons are worth remembering.

Tips to Help Build Cross-Cultural Business Skills

Posted on August 20, 2013, by Katie Stouffs

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” – Emily Post (1872-1960)

Long before international business etiquette writer, Terri Morrison, penned Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands (a must-read for any real estate practitioner with global clients), Emily Post, a.k.a. Miss Manners, preached the importance of proper etiquette. Post defined etiquette as a code of behavior based on kindness, respect and consideration for the purpose of helping people get along and avoid conflict. If you are a real estate practitioner who works with international buyers or sellers, or if you are tying to expand your business globally, take heed of Miss Manner’s advice! This definition is a great way to think about cross-cultural business and social skills.

Beyond the everyday good manners you already use in the course of business, when you are working with foreign clients, how can you be sure that your behavior is appropriate? Listed below are some basic cross-cultural do’s and don’ts. These guidelines can help you reduce the risk of making a cultural faux pas.

Saving face: In the business world, brutal honesty (for better or for worse) is often times appreciated.  However, this is not a universal opinion, rather, a western attitude that could unknowingly cause great offense. Allowing others to save face is a valuable cross- cultural skill. As a rule of thumb, never do anything to embarrass another person, either in that person’s eyes, or in the eyes of others. This principle may sound obvious, but in practice, blunders are easy to make, especially if you are working with a buyer who has never purchased property in the U.S. before. For example, if you are talking with a client about title insurance, you may receive blank stares. Indemnity insurance is likely to be a foreign concept to most foreign buyers. Be careful with your explanation. Avoid statements like, “You look confused. Let me clarify”. While your intention is good, this statement could be deemed insulting.

Additionally, you shouldn’t sacrifice your own face, even if your intention is harmless.  For example, if you are showing a home to a foreign client and need to convert feet into meters, don’t joke that you are useless at math. This simple statement could inadvertently tarnish your reputation.

Build the relationship: When you are first introduced to someone, do not try to create an instant friendship. Wait to be invited before you use first names. In many cultures, first meetings are for getting acquainted; don’t expect deals to be signed right away. The pace of “getting down to business” varies from culture to culture.

Talk less, listen more: Respect the role of silence and know when to talk and when to keep quiet. Communicate informatively rather than persuasively. Practice listening with both your ears and your eyes; sometimes nonverbal behavior can be telling. A shrug of the shoulders, a smile, silence− these nonverbal actions may indicate that the other person does not understand. Remember, “yes” does not always mean “I agree.”

Business card etiquette: In some cultures there is substantial etiquette associated with presenting and receiving business cards. As a general rule of practice, always treat business cards respectfully. When someone hands you their card, take the time to look it over. Show respect by commenting positively. Avoid putting the card in your pocket (especially your back pocket) or your wallet.

These are just a few tips that will help you when working with home buyers and sellers from a variety of cultures. Keep in mind that interactions with foreign clients proceed best and lead to successful transactions when you are sensitive to their expectations of business and social behavior. The more you know about your client’s culture, the more effective your interactions will be.

The Intercultural Communication Challenges of Skype Meetings

The Intercultural Communication Challenges of Skype Meetings

My intercultural business clients often enlist my aid to help them improve their Skype meetings. They count on me to provide them with a unique perspective on intercultural communication and want to hear my views about why it is so difficult and dissatisfying for them. From my perspective, the difficulty and dissatisfaction of using Skype to conduct meetings in an intercultural context is not due to the most obvious reasons.

We all know there are technical issues. Depending on the speed of the connections, coupled with the video and audio capabilities of the webcams and microphones, the display and the audio can cut in and out, and can be difficult to hear or visualize. There can be maddening lags, freezes, crashes and any number of unexpected glitches, all of which play havoc with even the most carefully organized meetings. These are not a big issue when using Skype for conversations within our private lives. But even when things go perfectly on the technical side of things within a business context, there are issues that need to be addressed for ensuring successful intercultural meetings.

For example, every language has a tempo. By that I mean, how quickly people speak, how long a time they leave between one sentence and the next, and how long they wait before responding to someone else’s words, varies. In the French language there is typically a slight overlap at the end of a spoken sentence; the next speaker begins before the other has finished. In English, in North America at least, we pause slightly to signal that it’s the other person’s turn to speak. In the Japanese language there are substantially longer pauses between one speaker and another. Such subtle differences can be found in all languages.

This is what I call the tempo, or rhythm, of a language. When the French or Japanese speak English, they bring their rhythms with them. Anglophones who learn other languages maintain their native tempo, as well. I encounter this phenomenon every day with my intercultural clients, accustomed as I am to observing such things. So I can easily understand how these different rhythms cause problems during intercultural Skype meetings, because when there is even the smallest lag during such sessions, our rhythms get disrupted.

When you are speaking your native language, such things are easily overcome. However, when you’re speaking a foreign language, each time you face such a disruption you become distracted from what you were in the middle of saying or hearing. The larger the number of cultures participating in the Skype meeting, the more complicated it becomes. Why?

How Easily Can You Multitask in Your Mind?

What is rarely acknowledged is that when we are speaking our native languages, we are able to multitask in our minds. We listen easily, formulate what we are going to say next, think about what we’re going to have for lunch, generate opinions about the others around us, notice the air temperature in the room, and so on. So what’s another minor distraction like lag?

Simply this. When you are using a second language, it’s impossible to multitask in your mind to the same degree; you have to focus more on listening. So if you don’t hear part of a sentence, then understanding suffers. If you’re distracted by that lack of understanding, it’s then more difficult for you to formulate what you want to say next. And even if you are able to formulate what to say next, the rhythm you are used to is disrupted and you are unsure of when to add a comment or question.

Furthermore, even if you are able to make sense of the partial sentences you’re hearing, can formulate what to say next and jump in at just the right time, there’s the next trap waiting for you. This is the biggest stumbling block for many of my clients: you see yourself while speaking a foreign language. As one client candidly told me, “That is a sight I’d rather not see!”

It’s easier to convince yourself when speaking in person to others that your accent isn’t so bad and the way you form the unfamiliar sounds of a second language doesn’t look weird to your listeners. (Indeed, how many of you who speak a second language dislike leaving a phone message because you don’t want your voice to be recorded in English? I know I prefer not doing so in French.) When using Skype you have to watch yourself looking uncomfortable and unsure while trying to construct a coherent message in another language within a technically challenging context. Frankly, all of us have to have nerves of steel to get through it. As a result, many Skype meetings are conducted without any video. It’s common in such cases to use slow Internet connection speeds as an excuse. But I wonder when I hear that whether it’s not more about a sense of self dignity that we are trying to defend.

Skype is not the villain here. Instead, it simply amplifies things that all of us working within intercultural situations in a language other than our native one face every day. This can result in some uncomfortable conversations but as I say to my clients, “Discomfort goes with the territory.” In turn, they tell me what a relief it is to discuss these issues of difficulty and discomfort so openly. They are rarely discussed at the office, where everyone simply pretends to be confident and comfortable during such meetings, with varying degrees of success.

When this fact of intercultural business communication is finally out in the open, the burden of pretending is lifted. Suddenly everyone can agree about just how awkward it is to function effectively in a foreign language when using Skype. That openness inspires people to be more patient and helpful, and less judgmental of one another. A shift in attitude, along with improved intercultural communication skills, not just an improvement in technology, is what it’s going to take to meet the unprecedented challenges of communicating globally across cultures online.

This post first appeared on sherwoodfleming.com Sherwood Fleming is an intercultural communication seminar leader and author of Dance of Opinions.

What Makes a Global Leader Savvy?

What is a global leader? What is a leader?

When people think of a global leader the words that come to mind are world-wide, international, inspiring, someone who takes charge, and someone who is capable of gaining followers. Leaders are assertive, they know exactly what they want, they are not afraid to speak up and are well-liked. Anyone can be a global leader, but what makes someone a strong leader? A savvy leader? People admire positive, inspiring, and ambitious people because they have a passion and vision on what they want to do in life and that is something many want to attain. Successful global leaders are well-rounded and also know what’s going on locally and globally. To become a savvy global leader, you don’t have to be born in another country or have parents in the foreign service but you do have to understand what is going on internationally. “Savvy” people understand and never stop learning so to become a savvy global leader, you need to be willing to learn and understand on a global scale. People can become a global leader with the right direction and simply making the decision to be globally-minded. Here are some tips to become a global savvy leader.

1. Learn another language: You don’t have to come from a international background to speak another language, you can simply learn one. You can learn new languages by taking classes, reading, and using audio-visual language courses online.

2. Travel: How can you be considered a “Global” leader if you don’t go global yourself? Traveling out of the country is the best way to learn a new culture. Talking to the locals in a particular country helps one learn about their way of life, community, and how they do business.

3. Stay Updated on Global News: Global leaders typically are up to date and aware of what is going on in the world so it’s important to read and watch international news. Knowing about what is going on in other countries is impressive and builds your credibility.

4. Have Friends in Different Places: A great excuse to travel and learn is to visit a friend you have in another country. Developing personal relationships abroad also helps with networking if you want to do business in that country or make important connections.

5. Understand your Company’s Global Potential: Global expansion may make or break your business, you will want/need to know if your company should target a specific country or area in terms of products and services.

Becoming a global leader is hard work but it is also fulfilling and a way for someone to keep learning about different cultures. Successful global leaders are willing to learn and understand and always ask what they don’t know instead of solely relying on what they do know.

Women in Leadership, Women in Business: What Glass Ceiling?

Women in Leadership, Women in Business
Interview by Melissa Lamson
Interviewer: Hana Al-Abadi

Q: Why are women in business such a hot topic right now?

A: I think that we have thought – at least in the US and Europe – that we fought the battle for equality in the past but when we looked around a couple of years ago and saw that positions, money, and treatment still wasn’t always equal, the subject came up again. Women finally see ourselves as equal business partners and we want careers equally to men. Because of that there’s a lot of pressure on individuals to find flexible solutions to create that equality in the workplace as well as at home. The topic of women in the workplace is big because of that pressure and that evolution. Women tend to be really spectacular working globally because they are good at developing relationships. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we are going global successfully because we are good at it.

Q: Do you believe women still bump into the glass ceiling?

A: Yes I do. I would say there are two challenges. The first challenge is that women are trained to not focus much on self-promotion because we will be seen as a threat, an opportunist, or simply not a “nice girl”. Different from men who are admired for self-promotion; its expected from men. So we’ll sabotage ourselves and not promote our accomplishments enough to be seen for that promotion or next project. The other challenge is that as women we are very focused on performance, mostly because we are socialized to be perfectionists. So we have a perfectionism issue, we need to be more conscious of not being too much of a perfectionist but to pull ourselves out of the weeds, look up, and develop those key relationships, particularly with men.

Q: What are the top 3 keys to women being successful in the workforce? Anything special they need to consider when working globally?

A: 1. Don’t be a perfectionist. 2. Self Promote. 3. Build targeted relationships. (Don’t just socialize with those people you like.)

Q: As a successful business woman, author, and consultant who travels all over the world, would you say women are more or less successful in business outside of the US/in other countries?

A: I wouldn’t say more or less successful. In the US, women have been at a disadvantage in the last 20 years because many believed the whole issue of equality in business was fixed and no longer an issue. But there is still inequality we need to think about consciously, proactively and collaboratively with men. Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most well-known people who recently came out and said “it’s still not equal and we need to be conscious of this”. She also was the first women to admit publicly that a major success factor in a woman’s career is determined by the support of their partner.

Globally, it’s interesting to see the gender roles in parts of Asia and the Middle-east. They are very distinct between women and men. Men don’t try to do what women do and vice versa. It becomes an advantage because when we see the male and female roles, people just tend to leave each other alone in their roles. It doesn’t get messy because men get a little nervous when you’re in their territory and it’s in their nature to be more competitive. So if you don’t have people stepping on each other’s toes then it’s easier to get things done so I think women have more opportunities in some other countries because of that. Having said that, women all over the world are speaking up, getting an education, and want to use that education to launch their careers. It’s economically driven, in many cases, young couples or families need or want more money and material possessions and a more luxurious lifestyle than their parents had. Its also emotionally-driven, where women want to use their brain, invent, create and shape the world.

Q: What is your advice to women wanting to start their own business?

A: Find  people who have done something similar and who are successful at it and either go meet them, work for them, and/or model yourself after them. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Also, it’s helpful if those role models are women so you know how to overcome specific challenges. Further, I would find men who are successful and ask them to be formal mentors to you because they will always give the male perspective. When you’re interacting with clients who are male, they will be able to help you. Particularly when negotiating money or asking for the sale, men tend to do that differently from women and its good to learn both styles.

For more information about women in business, contact info@lamsonconsulting.com

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXyRadt4Pg8

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 info@lamsonconsulting.com

 

 

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.

Effective Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Join us for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thurs 9am PT / 12pm ET / 18:00 CET

This week’s topic: Effective & Productive Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

by Evelyn Eury @SageStrategist

Pitfalls of Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Global meeting planning across cultures has many of the same pitfalls as traditional meeting organizing but is complicated by the cultural nuances of different offices, local customs and professional yet, culturally biased viewpoints. The savvy cross cultural meeting planner understands the cultural challenges and plans for them accordingly. In an August 2011 Gigaom.com article, Gary Swart pinpoints the first problem of planning and urges global leadership to make good decisions based upon analysis. He introduces a truth most managers already know: “managers spend between 30 and 80 percent of their time in meetings and more than 50 percent of them consider many meetings to be a ‘waste of time.’” (Swartz, August 28 2011) He asserts that effective meetings are rendered possible when planners first ensure that the event is vital to hold, carefully create an itinerary to be followed and that outputs should be evaluated post-haste in order to rate successfulness.

Challenges of Cross Cultural Virtual Meetings

Remote international meetings across cultures require all of these considerations but also necessitate cutting edge technology that allows real-time communication, the sharing of documents and data virtually, and ideally video to increase one’s ability to read other meeting participants non-verbal queues. Virtual meetings with international offices can also produce other hiccups: such as language barriers, divergence in availability due to working hours, varied holiday and leave schedules, and cultural nuance that impacts meeting participants level of comfort in speaking with other employees. New global, virtual meeting research shows that the number one barrier to global meetings across cultures are time-zones. Next comes lack of consistent moderation and cultural misunderstanding due to the inability of reading non-verbal cues.  In this case, meeting dates and time must be carefully selected in order to increase attendance, allow for translators where necessary and leadership must be aware of cultural variance in order to make all parties relaxed in communication style.

Questions for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thursday 9am PT / 12pm ET

Q1.  Should companies rely on internal translators to aid in meeting discussions? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q2.  Do you think it is more effective to work with a third party Translation Services vendor?  Any recommendations? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q3.  Do you think leadership should devise international office Holiday Schedules based solely on cultural sensitivity or also consider business needs? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q4. How does your company deal with time zone differences when scheduling meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q5.  How important is cultural nuance when communicating remotely? Is it more or less important than true face-to-face meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q6. If you fail to have cultural experts on staff that can speak to local sensitivities, how would you obtain intelligence to deal with this challenge? #GlobalMindsetChat

What is #GlobalMindsetChat?

Recent studies show that Global Mindset is the key competence leaders urgently look to develop in their workforce today.

Every week, Melissa Lamson hosts the varied and unique #GlobalMindsetChat on Twitter. The only one of its kind, #GlobalMindsetChat provides pertinent information on cross cultural, intercultural, and diversity topics that impact global business and the economy today.

How to join a twitterchat: www.Forbes.com

Global Leadership – Skills Global Leaders Need

The McKinsey Quarterly sited a study where 76 percent of senior executives said they believe their organizations need to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so very effectively. However those companies who are getting it right in terms of global leadership development and acting as true global players are coincidentally taking three key actions: 1)Diversifying their boards culturally and linguistically, 2)Hiring and promoting from other country locations into top leadership positions (not just from the home country where headquarters is located), and 3)Decentralizing procedures and processes to a variety of locations around the world. For example, Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant, housed their global IT system at the US subsidiary, not at headquarters in Germany. A seemingly radical move by most traditional expansion strategies.

Skills global leaders need to be successful:
  • Experience living abroad.
  • Cultural sensitivity, collaborative skills and a greater focus on emotional competencies.
  • The ability to accept that a particular situation my not be like anything they are familiar with.
  • The capacity to motivate, influence and enable individuals across cultures to uphold corporate culture and accomplish company goals.
How can leaders develop global skills?
  • Travel often and participate face-to-face in meetings with colleagues from the location.
  • Practice getting comfortable with ambiguity.
  • Be open to new ways of doing things, spend more time listening and less time speaking.
  • Commit to Global Leadership Development programs or participate in seminars.
  • Understand what’s going on-line and use all forms of technology to communicate with team members located globally.

Many say that we are at a leadership deficit in the business world and not only do we need existing leaders to improve their global skills, we need 1000s more truly developed leaders who can think, act and lead globally. Leadership is becoming more and more important in terms of motivating employees, facilitating new innovations, and driving projects forward. Are your leaders and is your organization prepared?

We’ll talk more in detail next month on how to assess and find the right global leaders.

For more information on how to work globally, contact us info@lamsonconsulting.com