Global Leadership Coaching
” We must become the change we want to see.”
Whatever the eventual outcome from triggering Article 50 to leave the European market, businesses will continue to extend their global reach and executives will be expected to adapt to changing business landscapes. Personally, living between Switzerland and the UK with exposure to many multinational companies around the world, cultural differences can be a source of immense frustrations to many but once understood can be a source of richness for greater learning, understanding and growth.
In today’s intercultural environment, integrating the cultural dimension into leadership coaching is important to its validity. Cross cultural coaching offers both the organisation and the individual the opportunity to learn from alternative cultural perspectives in the key areas of strategy, communication, territory and identity. Increasingly, global teams and individuals face numerous hurdles in their efforts to achieve high levels of performance. Typically, they operate across different time zones, accomplish a lot of their work remotely, interact through technology assisted communication and their members frequently speak different languages.
Recently, we have been working with a number of European based Executives who were new to their role as International Directors of an American multinational. Whilst highly regarded in their individual competencies, each was challenged to make a success of their new roles given the conflicting expectations of all involved. The American way of business is seen as being fast paced and dynamic, yet this can sit uneasily in other countries, where building relationships is a long -term commitment. In China and the Far East, it is necessary to spend extensive time getting to know your counterparts outside the boardroom during tea sessions, banquets etc. This is equally relevant in many European countries. This does not mean a lack of momentum, but a need to have multiple interactions to build trust. Managing the varied and multiple expectations of an American parent company, the varied pace and timescale of different European countries and negotiating a Japanese joint venture was creating high stress levels and personal conflict.
Coaching allowed the individuals to take a step back from their day to day roles and review a wider, global perspective. Looking at the relationship between different nationalities and their environment, there is a potential for misunderstanding in being able to do business smoothly. For example, the joint venture between two countries required a new focus. The coaching intervention recognised US cultural orientations of universalism, individualism and directness where control is at the heart of any interaction .The Japanese have a culturally dominant propensity for harmony in the environment and indirectness of culture. Coaching across the cultural divide allows the individual or organisaon to leverage these polarities over time. The result is effective leadership and increased business performance.
Instead of ignoring or denigrating cultural differences, participants of coaching interventions are invited to embrace cultural diversity and create opportunities to leverage the differences. It is as much about the individual and the situation that relationships are forged and as part of the coaching it is clear that stereotyping must be avoided at all costs.
Whilst some businesses have been proactive in preparing their executives for international or global roles, sadly, many companies’ intentions are good but their practice falls short of intent. The development of global leaders requires a rigorous and systematic approach to releasing human potential and ensuring that cultural diversity is embraced rather than feared. Utilising a combination of coaching and training, it is possible to allow an individual to work through and integrate multicultural perspectives, develop business practices that will work internationally, manage stress levels and develop enhanced global performance.