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Leading a global team April 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Team basics.
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Do you have to lead global teams? Many companies are expanding globally to take advantage of the basic economics of hiring workers. While some of us may not agree with that strategy, it is widely adopted. It is not the purpose of this entry to discuss the viability of international outsourcing. It is my purpose to give you some tips and techniques on how to be more effective in that environment.

 Some of the most common challenges facing managers and leaders in a global environment are:

  • Staying connected
  • Time differences
  • Alignment or mis-alignment of goals
  • Language
  • Culture differences
  • Expectations of senior management
  • Managing performance

 Not everyone can be successful as a global manager or leader.  Effective global leaders typically have:

  • A willingness to communicate, form relationships with others, and try new things
  • Good cross-cultural communication and language skills
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness about other cultures
  • The ability to determine if a global worker is performing up to expectations

 The principles that guide us in becoming an effective team leader with co-located teams also apply in the global arena. However, the effective global leader is aware of four factors that affect their performance in a global situation.

1.      Pay more attention to time. Things just take longer when you are acting globally. It is sometimes difficult to convince senior management of this concept, but it is true and the global leader must consider it. In addition, the effective global leader understands that not everyone lives in the same time zone.

2.      Have more patience. Since things take longer and people do things differently across the globe, the effective global leader has more patience. I once had a manager tell me, “I know I need to learn more patience. How long will this take?” Learn how to breathe deeply or learn the art of Zen or something to increase your patience. You will need it.

3.      Make effective use of technology. The purveyors of technology are rapidly working to close the global gap. Global leaders have telephone and visual technology available to access people in any part of the world. Learn the technology and use it to help you close the global gap!

4.      Adapt to different cultures. When everyone shares the same building, it is easy to interact culturally. Once you go more than 50 miles, nuances start to creep into the culture. Just imagine the cultural differences when the person is over 5000 miles away. It is the responsibility of the global leader to create a team culture. That culture must not violate any of the cultural taboos of the global community.

 Using these four factors as a foundation, I will be writing a series on leading global teams with emphasis on communicating, building rapport and getting results.  Stay tuned.

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