Global Leadership Blog
Creating Global Mindset

Taking Situational Leadership Global

Imagine that you’ve been tasked with leading a team overseas. You feel confident about your ability to engage and motivate your new group; after all, your leadership style has been highly praised in the past. Then you begin working with your new team, only to find they don’t respond to you quite so positively. Whether you’re giving feedback, delegating tasks or building relationships, your efforts seem to fall flat – time and again. You begin to wonder if you really have good leadership skills after all…

This scenario happens every day to even the most experienced executives. As a result, more companies have been moving toward situational leadership. This school of thought recognizes that an approach that works with one individual or group may fall flat with another. Unlike development models that focused on cultivating one “ideal” leadership style, forward-thinking companies are looking for leaders who can adapt their approach to specific dynamics.

It’s no mystery why this is so valuable in today’s era of global expansion. What works well in one culture could be unintentionally alienating in another, causing a rift between a manager and his or her team. Effective leaders must be able to mirror the shifting standards of multiple regions and apply effective leadership styles globally.

Global Intelligence

To see why global situational leadership is so necessary, think about it from the employee’s viewpoint. If you get a new manager from another culture, you naturally want to be sure you’re valued as a contributor. So you watch your new leader closely, interpreting his or her words and actions to see if you’re appreciated as a top performer. When your manager fails to provide the feedback you expect, or behave in a way that (to you) signals dissatisfaction, you begin feeling demoralized and disconnected.

That’s a shame, because this can happen even when both leaders and employees start out with the best intentions. It’s only mismatched expectations that drive the relationships off course.

To establish common ground with your cross-cultural teams and act with global intelligence, be aware of your leadership style in the following areas.

Hierarchy. Maybe at the office where you usually work, employees at every level are fairly informal with each other. But then you go overseas and your new team addresses you formally and maintains a specific social distance. Is it because they don’t like you? Should you try to be pals? No and no. Research the diverse cultural viewpoints of hierarchy and adjust accordingly.

Management style. Most of us have experienced both the micromanaging boss and the hands-off boss. In some cultures, teams will expect a manager to keep a tight rein and will feel abandoned by a boss who allows more independence. Other cultures are the opposite. Even something as simple as the difference between “Do you need help?” and “If you need help, let me know” can assist you in meeting your team’s expectations.

Making decisions. Some cultures approach decision-making by talking through the ethics surrounding the matter; others focus only on the potential results. Adopting the wrong approach can lead to a perception of callousness or ineffectiveness, so do your research ahead of time.

Giving feedback. I worked with a team once where problematic employees would be criticized as indirectly as possible. “If a table had a weak leg and that leg broke, it’d be unfortunate for the whole table,” someone might say. Everyone would know whom they meant, but the metaphor saved face for the criticized employee. Other cultures, of course, are more direct. The danger here is that what’s candid in one country can be perceived as harsh and humiliating in another, and what seems polite to you can fall on deaf ears.

Time. As the saying goes, we all have 24 hours in a day – but cultures make use of those hours differently. If you come from an environment where deadlines are sacred, it may come as a shock to be in a workplace where honoring relationships takes precedence over deadlines. But in many cultures, it’s highly important to establish and maintain personal connections before focusing on getting a deliverable across the finish line.

Recognition. This area can be a minefield of misunderstandings. In some cultures, the leader gets the credit and the blame for the team’s results. In other regions, there’s more of a focus on recognizing individual accomplishments. The same applies to visibility – where you may see yourself as protecting your staff from unpleasant meetings, they might feel sidelined and want more of a seat at the table. Other times, you feel you’re delegating and providing a development opportunity, where the employees may feel burdened.

At this point, you might be asking, “So what’s the solution?” Here’s my advice. Always do your homework regarding cultural nuances in the workplace. Collect input from colleagues who’ve also led teams in that region. But don’t be afraid to communicate directly with your staff to align expectations. Once you’ve fostered mutual respect and rapport, you’ll understand how to lead your team to success.

Contact Melissa to assess and develop Global Mindset in your managers.

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. More About Melissa Lamson


What information do we collect?

We collect information from you when you place an order, subscribe to our newsletter, respond to a survey or fill out a form.
When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your: name, e-mail address, mailing address, phone number or credit card information. You may, however, visit our site anonymously.

Like most websites, we use cookies and/or web beacons to enhance your experience, gather general visitor information, and track visits to our website. Please refer to the ‘do we use cookies?’ section below for information about cookies and how we use them.

What do we use your information for?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways:


. To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs)
. To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you)
. To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs)
. To process transactions . Your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested.
. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature
. To send periodic emails


The email address you provide for order processing, may be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order, in addition to receiving occasional company news, updates, related product or service information, etc.

Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

How do we protect your information?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or access your personal information.
We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential.

After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.

Do we use cookies?

Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information.

We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.

If you prefer, you can choose to have your computer warn you each time a cookie is being sent, or you can choose to turn off all cookies via your browser settings. Like most websites, if you turn your cookies off, some of our services may not function properly. However, you can still place orders over the telephone.

Do we disclose any information to outside parties?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Compliance

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.

Your Consent

By using our site, you consent to our privacy policy.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page.

Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us via moc.l1563914133iamg@1563914133CLLgn1563914133itlus1563914133noCno1563914133smaL1563914133.