Global Leadership Blog

Global Intelligence for Managers

I recently facilitated a training in Europe. As I returned to the US, I reflected on the motivated people I met, and the fact that successful managers everywhere share certain qualities.

To succeed globally, managers need to retain those universal qualities of managerial success and take additional steps toward increasing their global intelligence. These are three top recommendations:

Three Key Skills For Global Management Success

Adapt Your Style

Your ability to adapt to individual employee needs is one of your biggest assets. Consider:

Do people need encouragement to reach stretch goals?
Do I need to be more hands-on?
Is this particular direct report better suited to autonomy?
Is this employee bristling against too much structure? Not enough?
How do I need to accommodate individual personality styles?

When working in a global context, there are additional considerations having to do with the influence of cultural background on time management, attitudes towards hierarchy, or communication style.

Some examples:

In Asia, a manager will typically be more hands-on at first, giving explicitly detailed instructions, then later on as people feel comfortable, the intense detail orientation of instructions will be scaled back.

In Eastern Europe, decision-making really needs to be made in the correct hierarchical chain; people do not feel comfortable questioning authority.

In the US, Americans like to be given a high level idea but resist too much hand holding which is perceived as micromanagement.

Give Constructive Feedback

How do you want your employee to see you? If you want them to see you as a manager willing to invest time in their development, giving feedback is a large part of your approach. The key, though, is knowing how to deliver the feedback and in which situations.

Giving constructive feedback is a critical skill for managers to develop in order to earn trust. Constructive feedback is the foundation of effective conversations that feed maximum productivity.

When considering cultural approaches to feedback, take the time to learn about interaction patterns in specific countries. Take, for example, this scenario from Japan, where feedback is most effective when presented in a more indirect manner:

In Japan, a team of four people included one team member who needed to improve his performance. The team manager used a metaphor of a table that had four legs. He explained that if one of the legs became wobbly, the entire table would be unstable and vulnerable to collapse. The individual who needed to improve was never told directly: “you need to change ‘X’ or ‘Y’” but it was clear to all involved what had to change.

In Germany, the approach would be quite the opposite: the employee is going to prefer to hear directly what needs to be improved and to be given specific details about the problem. They want to know the “bad stuff” in order to work on and improve it. They don’t need the blow to be softened.

Coach Instead of Mentor

At some point in your management career, you are going to confront the fault line between your energy limits and your team’s needs. Coaching is a methodology that helps a manager delegate, empower and solve without wasting as much time and energy. As Jeremy Stover, Head of the Executive Coaching Program at LinkedIn, wisely reminds people: “Coaching makes it possible for managers to scale themselves.”

One resource I recommend to understand the role of coaching is this vlog from Leigh Nagy Frasher. Coaching relies on you to give your people the resources they need to unlock their own potential. It takes longer in the beginning than simply telling them what to do (or, worse, doing it yourself), but the dividends are huge.

For those of you who manage globally:

In France, it’s important to have a bit of a more in depth conversation about a topic that you’re coaching on because the French take a more philosophical approach to management. Your discussions may need to allot more time for discussions around the theoretical before you arrive at the pragmatic.

In Argentina, people are highly inspired by psychology and psychological methodologies so they may appreciate more of a psychotherapy approach to coaching. They’re willing to go deeper into the issues.

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Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication.
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