Influencing Globally

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June 10, 2013

I just finished a week-long leadership training program with 28 global leaders in the heavy manufacturing industry. These were all leaders of leaders, most all had ultimate responsibility for hundreds of people each and revenue targets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. These were busy people with big jobs.

The topics were designed primarily around advancing their own leadership influence and included areas such as individual leadership, teams and collaboration, coaching and mentoring. We also designed a learning module around global leadership, since each participant led both local and global teams. We used The Globe Study on leader effectiveness and culture to explore how culture was related to societal, organizational and leader effectiveness.

GLOBE’s major premise (and finding) is that leader effectiveness is contextual, that is, it is embedded in the societal and organizational norms, values, and beliefs of the people being led. In other words, to be seen as effective, the time-tested adage continues to apply: “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”

Our program participants, comprising 13 different countries and nationalities, echoed the findings in real life – you cannot lead effectively across countries and cultures if you don’t first appreciate that life may be different there.

This also sparked a valuable conversation about when company culture trumps country culture. These leaders all shared the same challenges around advancing an organization culture while living one foot in one country and the other in another. And that’s an oversimplification; consider the team from Buenos Aires interacting with the manufacturing plant in Taiwan and the corporate office in Germany. Their solution was to maintain a consistent set of messages around the building of the company culture (around their core values) so that their outcomes and metrics were consistently based on expectations they all held. Local norms, such as worker relationships and social systems, all became part of the dialogue of work within the global company culture.

When in Rome… is important to remember – organizational performance cannot be achieved without it.

So how does that play out for your “local” global organization? How might your organization contain “global” elements, perspectives, worldviews, fiefdoms that you need to span to create effective work outcomes?


BE BETTER NOW – A Leadership Call to Action – Take a moment right now to put your thoughts into action

  1. What is ONE ASPECT of your professional life that might benefit from more or different attention in this subject area (enhancing the impact you make on others)?
  1. What is ONE THING you could do TODAY that would move you more deliberately in this direction? The Behavior or action I could take (verb); I will…
  1. HOW will you ensure you are developing – WITH WHOM can you share this goal or add to your brain trust to hold yourself accountable?
  1. MAKE a 10 minute calendar appointment right now to check in with yourself on this topic next week (better yet – for each following week). Keep it practical – write brief notes on two questions only:
  • What clear steps did I take last week for my own development?
  • What will I focus on executing next week?

Need some thought partner time? – Call/email at 336.918.8415

Practical – Relevant – Immediately Useful