Tag Archives: Leadership

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Interviewee's headshot
Petra

Petra lives in Hamburg and if you meet her in person, you’ll probably notice one of her eighteen shades of blue. Born and raised in Germany, one of her qualities is working in-time, which means to take care of customer’s leadership needs as much as possible in the Here and Now – also and especially when it’s complex and challenging.  She is a Global Leadership Coach and with decades of experience across international Business, NGOs and engagement for Women and Black issues, she has become a specialised Transformation Synergist.


Petra’s mission now is to support GLOBAL WOMEN IN/TO LEADERSHIP. 

But how she got there is a very unconventional story. 

In Africa they say, you know people by their name. And yes, Petra’s name already tells a story.  The german part, her father’s name Sorge, had been widely seen as ‘worry’. When starting to work globally Petra used its second meaning ‘taking care of’. Because that’s what she’s used to doing i.e. taking care of others professionals’ success. After her late marriage with an Afrobrazilian she decided to make her surname a bridge between cultures and became Sorge dos Santos, ‘care of the Saints’.

Petra was a pioneer in her field and  throughout her life she developed a certain focus on learning and teaching. At 21, while she was still studying Adult’s Education she also started her career. Funnily enough, she began teaching a class made up by male ex-soldiers only. Coming from the last only female class of a girls’ high school, at university she early noticed the lack of female professors and the absence of awareness about women’s issues.

She felt tremendously the urge to fill this gap and became one of the founders of  the NGO ‘Hamburg Women’s Week’ – where 260 female experts taught 9000 women in just six days, while the only men inside the university building took care of their children. Subsequently, she founded another NGO, ‘Denk-t-räume’, a women’s center for learning and research. Since then she’s never stopped doing what she loves which is empowering women and  changing the narrative around them. Let’s remember that for as much as the gap in gender equality is still a big issue today, addressing this topic thirty years ago must have been a totally different story. 

After finishing her diploma, she went into the field of professional career training. One of her innovations was to implement coaching sessions, at a time (the late 80s) when coaching was nearly unknown in Germany.

In 1992, she had the luck to meet Michael Grinder, NLP founder John Grinder’s brother. Since he specialised in applying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) into teaching,  she was highly motivated to deepen her understanding of Neurolearning and two years later obtained a master’s degree in NLP.

In 1986, Brazil came in and changed her life.
She travelled solo for three months which felt like diving into a fascinating new world. A world which fascinated her with her tradition of music and dance but which also challenged her ‘Germanness’.

When she went back to Germany, she became a member of the first women’s foundation. Having lly get to know in person the power and competence of purposeful female leaders from the Global South. Coming back to her country that typically only saw them as needy migrants and that still considered even German women as inferior was quite a challenge. All this finally turned into her today’s identity of Globalista and it fueled her decision to become self-employed: in 1995 she founded CL!C – Crossculture Linking and Consulting. 

Global Leaders who deal with international teams and customers especially need to understand others and the cultural differences they bring at the table.  And this is where her expertise came in: for more than fifteen years, she trained international leaders and their teams to acquire more cultural competencies. This job opened her eyes to what the difficulties in leading with diversity often are.  It also made her perceive how the majority of Western leaders, on average male and 55 years old (in Germany), carry a serious deficit of cultural intelligence (CQ). 

At the same time, she also realised that well-qualified women who grew up, studied and worked in two or more  cultures/countries are very different in this sense. They can adapt to and navigate different cultures more easily. This is one of the reasons why Petra now focuses on what she calls Global Women and their different needs in becoming successful leaders.

 
Petra’s professional life was eventful and rich in changes. After her overseas consultancy had taken her to support women not only in Brazil, but also in the Caribbean and Angola, she became inspired to work on the radio. She created Radio Triangula where she focussed on Africa-Brazil-Hamburg, played nice-to-dance music and introduced to the public global men and women engaged across cultures. Later on she also hosted a local TV program called ‘Hamburgisch by Culture’ where she regularly held biographical interviews with her Hamburg guests. Bringing diversity into the media was quite a good way to balance her other job as a trainer of German male executives.
A serious health issue finally forced her to think her career over and – like she always tells her coachees –  to start focusing on what she really wanted. And that is to make leadership become more global, diverse and female both in quantity and quality.

Her personal goal is to bring all her expertise together in one project. For her, this means she will do more than  COACHING. Her virtual learning together with her trainer background calls for what is state of the art: ONLINE LEARNING.  This is also true for her target group: women who feel home in more than one culture, who don’t only live in Hamburg or Germany and who are definitely spending part of their working/learning time online. Starting her project  in English enables her to realise her vision of CONNECTING across cultures. Thirty years ago she already connected with one another female leaders from the Global South. Now, she wants to connect women who belong to the young generations. Finally, integrating her passion for media, she will talk about her global participants and expert role models through her podcast ‘Leadership Lights’ as well as her ‘Petra Global TV’ starting as a Facebook Live. 


So for her as well as for her participants it’s about “Leading with GUTS”

Example of tagline

What are the main obstacles in the work that Petra so passionately does?

“The main problem with Global Leaders is their lack of self-awareness.” This characteristic is, in fact, often overlooked and regarded as a merely private aspect of a leader’s life. But knowing yourself and being able to lead oneself is fundamental when it comes to working with others, especially in a globalized environment. Nowadays, with the digitalization of company culture, employees need leadership with personality more than ever.

Are you also attracted by the topic of Leadership and/or do you want to become an Intercultural Trainer? 

Then Petra’s main piece of advice for you is to widen your open-mindedness and nurture your curiosity. Her personal secret to success is, whatever career you decide to embark on, go for something you really want, do not follow the path someone else paved for you.

If you’re a student, you can choose courses in Cross-Cultural Management / Intercultural Communication led by professionals from the field.
If you’re already in international business you should consider taking a professional qualification on top. Aside from that, Petra believes that only by DOING you become an actual coach and trainer.  

Finally, let’s look at Petra’s recommended books: 

  • ‘Das Rebellische Eigentum’ by Peter Martin –the rebellious property. A Study on enslaved Africans, showing their many facets of rebellion, right from the start. 
  • I love myself when I’m laughing by Zora Neale Hurston – An anthology of the intellectual and spiritual foremother of the next generation of black writers.
  • ‘Dare to Lead’ by Brené Brown – a female reframe of Leadership by a famous TED speaker who pleads for starting from vulnerability.

Petra’s whole life has formed her into the global synergist of transformation that she is today. Her breakthrough program for Global women that she is promoting at the moment is called ‘Leading with GUTS’.
While combining a global mindset-work with understanding and including others and transformation with self-Awareness, it covers three parts of online leadership learning in this sequence: 1. Leading Self 2. Global Competence 3. Leading Others
If you are interested, register for her free challenge ‘Smartly Overcoming Leadership Barriers’. If you want to start on a smaller scale her Leading Self Kickoff might be interesting for you.

Example of an Online Challenge

Do you find Petra’s story as interesting and exciting as I did? Do you want to drop her a personal message? You can contact her via email or you can visit her website or podcast Leadership Lights. Or you can listen to Radio Triangular, live stream every fourth Saturday of the month at 5 PM CET. 


In order to support this  B2C-approach she is looking for partnerships which might also extend to a B2B-trainee program inside companies. The best way to contact her is via  LinkedIn.

 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

 

I used to once tell my colleagues that I sometimes feel that I am like an orchid. I would only blossom in the right environment and when I get a lot of love from the people working with me. As a creative person, I also need to feel safe and accepted and this is the hardest part because we often make connections between items that others will not connect. Also, connect people with each other who would not necessarily see why they should be connected. 

On the weekend I attended a short workshop in a monastery of a Dominican sisterhood in Ilanz. There in the loving eyes of those sisters, I immediately understood why I would like my clients to come to our RockMeRetreat: It’s because my heart is my compass. I only trust my heart and sometimes I also listen to my brain. However, we are taught in our society to not trust our heart anymore and that is why many of us are unwell and feel stuck. At the RockMeRetreat I will give you all the love that you need to blossom like an orchid again. You will learn to trust your heart again. Feel invited and welcome. You can still join us in 2020. I’m accepting applications now.

Our project and event manager, Monika Fischer, a veteran of cross-disciplinary fields including global mobility, cleverly alternates between allegory and candid self-reflection of her own extensive career to outline some forms of biases that can be observed in professional spaces and how to handle them. You can read her full essay below:

I have never had a green thumb, that is until I lived in Singapore for ten years and got used to being surrounded by blossoming orchids. They look very pretty and colorful, come in many shapes, shades and sizes. Through the sophisticated ability to have so many faces, some people think that all orchids are extremely demanding. Are they though?

People use shortcuts, also called biases, unconsciously. Research shows that this filtering ability of our brain basically saves it from exploding due to too many impressions and data shooting into it any second. Over the evolution of humanity, our brain learned to generalize myriads of known circumstances, create patterns and suggest immediate solutions. We are not even aware of this process, hence unconscious.

Roche research showed (as addressed by Kristen Pressner at a TED talk in Basel in 2016) that people award different attributes to male and female personalities. Whereas men are connected with characteristics like leadership, providing, assertiveness, strength, and drive, female counterparts usually get attributes like supportive, emotional, helpful, sensitive and fragile.

For our everyday life, it might be too strong a requirement to change how we speak. In a business setting, however, I argue that one should step back from time to time, reflect and think again: when I say a manager or a CEO, do I use a “he” in the next sentence? What if I used a “she”, how would it change my perspective? What if I think of my male colleague as being supportive, emotional, helpful, sensitive and fragile? A female leader behaving assertively, driven and strong, is she a great leader or a “bitch”? There is no one-size-fits-all, even though our brain suggests easy readings.

My personal experience in the past several years in Switzerland when looking for new professional challenges for the age of 50+ (I turned 60 this year) uncovered several biases. Common in recruitment, in job ads and in the reasons for rejection. The general understanding says that older candidates are expensive, out of touch with technology, unwilling to learn, not mobile or flexible. There is also the perception that senior workers will be sick more often and take advantage of the pension fund and other statutory benefits. 

That may be applicable to some or even most of them, I do not know. What I do know is that my life took me through several countries, forced me into various professional fields and in different career levels. I mastered all situations, brought up three millennials who now have excellent jobs, I even built a new successful business in a foreign culture. 

Every 2-3 years I get a new certification or vocational training in something that interests me. 

Yet, no wonder, I do not fit in a neat list of requirements that are expected from a regular job candidate in Switzerland. Basically, a linear resume with a field of study that I would work a number of years in. I ask myself, who is it that lacks flexibility? Am I really expensive? Maybe a potential employer needs a person skilled in overseeing a vast field of challenges without losing the focus. Quick assessment of risks in early stages is more effective than problem solving later. Maybe I do not want to work full-time and my income is not the most important parameter for a job, maybe I wish to have a role with a purpose. Sounds familiar? You probably connect these expectations with young generations.

So, I am now an orchid lover. As mentioned above, some people never want to hear about having orchids at home. They are too sensitive, demanding, need too much care. Do they really? 

Those who know and love orchids will tell you that they are easy to care for, blossom for months, return to bloom for years when you give them basic care. In the past, I would buy a blooming plant that would lose the blossoms within days and then turn into a “salad”, a green-only something. Very often, I would soon discover some busy leaf bugs or mites and throw the plant away. 

My orchids do not get leaf bugs.

However, one day I found out that one of my orchids had tiny, white bugs around the submerged roots. Another day, I realized that another orchid was not only getting wrinkly leaves, but it had also not blossomed for a long time.

Did I change my mind about orchids then? Did I throw them all away? I didn’t. Did I say: All of them get bugs and wrinkles? I didn’t. 

I have 13 orchids, so I know that the majority of them behave differently. Let some of them be unhappy, inflexible, in a bad mood. After all, they are just living beings. Give them a chance to show what they can do for you. 

Imagine! One of my oldest orchids even rewarded me with a soft fragrance over several months this summer (I know, these species are not supposed to scent, yet it did). Be open-minded and you will meet wonderful orchids – and people. They may not be easy to read at first, but they will reward you along the way.

About the Author

Monika Fischer is an experienced international professional in relocation and global mobility, a versatile client and account relationship manager. She is also well-versed in sales, real estate marketing, office, and project management and skilled in effective communication in international teams. 

Monika still has capacity outside her current commitments with us. She can help you on a contract or part-time basis.  You can contact her through LinkedIn mentioning GPT or email her for further contact at abcd.mf@gmail.com

 

Last week, we talked about why building professional relationships is harder for expats. Now let’s discuss another side of the coin – how to create an inclusive environment for expats. If you were Dr. Rainer Schulz you’d probably ask yourself what you could do to build a safe and collaborative environment with people from different cultures.

1 – Deal with your Gollum

If you are an expat leader and want to create an environment where people trust each other, you will need to show vulnerability and role-model trustworthy behaviour. If you wish to be trusted you might have to show your weaknesses, your Achilles’ heel and let your team know how they can best support you. You might have to explain what triggers your emotional side, what makes you feel weak. You might even have to accept that you are not a superhero and that nobody apart from your “Gollum” is expecting this of you. My advice is that you seek coaching to work with the inner critic and put him in his cot.

2 – Work on your Implicit Assumptions and Biases

It could also be that you have formed assumptions about the host culture or about certain behaviours that are not appropriate and could end up impacting your relationship with your international team.
One way to address this is to bring up your implicit assumptions for discussion in a learning environment. This gives you the opportunity to not only correct your biases but also learn more about the host culture and its nuances. In my view, it always helps to attend intercultural competence development training.

3 – Reduce your Language Complex

Moving to another culture often comes with a form of language limitation. It could be that the host language is entirely different than your mother tongue or that you are speaking the same language with a different accent and different cultural references. For example, American English often uses references from Baseball in every slang, which doesn’t translate into our context in Europe.

Sometimes even a small difference in how you pronounce a word can create an entirely different meaning for a sensitive listener. Humour, sarcasm or irony often do not translate so well and we haven’t even discussed the pace of speech, tone of voice, the use of silence and interruptions. I try to listen more in conversations and take notes and often I have a hard time then to say something right away without the proper reflection time.

The older I get, the more introverted I feel and I find it quite hard to follow a meeting. I prefer to express myself through the written word. So, often I walk out of a meeting a bit lost. Maybe you know this feeling. I wish sometimes I could respond faster but the trouble is that knowing everything I know I need proper reflection time to come up with a good solution. My brain goes in overdrive.

You could make an effort to learn the host language better, use common phrases, get the dialect right and pronounce names correctly. This requires that you learn the names of everyone; from your clients, team members and colleagues, to the receptionist and mail person.

4 – Accept diverse Working Styles

Effective global teams allow for a variety of working styles and priority setting. However, many managers prefer to work with staff members who function like them. Unconsciously they find it easier. You can move out of your comfort zone and discuss differences in style with your team members directly. You could also address your preferences and request that team members accommodate your style to a certain degree or you could agree the checkpoints that you need in order to feel safe.

Also, if you prefer to be included in certain communications you should address that. When you are in your first 90 days with your new team in the host company, I recommend a symbolic kick-off meeting where you discuss roles and responsibilities, collaboration rules and principles and develop the short-term action plan together (assuming you move to a participatory, egalitarian culture such as Switzerland or Holland).

5 – Co-create Culture-Appropriate Roadmaps

Nowadays, discussing vision and mission is often perceived as an alibi exercise by management as the pace of change hardly allows for a long-term vision.

Hence, I recommend you focus more on the next six months and weekly actions to get closer to your vision. You should still create a vision board for yourself and maybe paint a picture or write about your vision. You could also write a mission statement for your area of responsibility. For your team though it is probably more important that you are fully present, your best self and have their back when they need you.

RockMeApp

Join our RockMe! program to become the Global Rockstar you would like to be. You can email angela@globalpeopletransitions.com for a chat or request access to our RockMeApp.


I’m sure you are aware that I have been championing body learning for some time, one of last month’s club sandwiches focused on harnessing emotional intelligence in conjunction with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) to become a better people leader.

This time, I would like to focus on the work of pioneering body learning coach and my coach educator Boudewijn Vermeulen.

Vermeulen developed a holistic approach to executive coaching that meshed popular communication techniques with body learning. His method led to higher coaching efficacy and speed and to this day is one of the most effective techniques for learning and personal and professional growth.

Boudewijn Vermeulen developed a structured method to improve relationships: the Vermeulen Analysis Model (VAM). His approach involved several aspects that can be grouped into these four areas:

  • structured communication,
  • relationship work,
  • body learning and
  • reflection of experiences.

The VAM builds on the realization that experiences and personal themes materialize in a “critical relationship”. It requires clients to undergo the “experiment”, so to say, and then reflect upon those experiences to form the pertinent theory – this positions the coach as more of a companion than a 1-to-1 dispenser of information.

In light of this emphasis on the journey of the experiment, the self-reflection, and learning, the Boudewijn Vermeulen method is particularly effective at editing relationships which, as previously mentioned, are the mirror of all issues.

When every issue is a relationship problem, it becomes paramount that one understand and analyze relationships all the time with the goal of maintaining and improving them. Under the guidance of a skilled coach, the client writes down their feelings about a relationship: what they regret, what they resent, what they are grateful for, their needs from the relationship and their disappointments and fulfillment.

The coach can then guide and help the client distill these findings to approach the relationship in a positive way again. The method highlights just how crucial it is to dive into the complexity of human relationships. Vermeulen built his method with the knowledge of the deep psychology of Carl Gustav Jung.

The Vermeulen Analysis Model is something one learns only under the guidance of a coach trained in the method. The key is to incorporate the techniques into your lives through weekly practices and repetition – the only habit can create the kind of self-improvement that lasts.

Communication, enhanced relationships and any type of learning of this sort is something that comes intrinsically to everyone, you just have to listen and learn. That is what effective coaches can teach you: how to listen and learn.

With our busy lives, it can be hard to carve out time in our established routines for these sort of tangential but essential learning activities, which is why I have incorporated all these communications, relationship and body learning methods into the core of the RockMeRetreat

The RockMeRetreat is a seven-day leadership retreat in Southern Germany, where you will get to network with other Expat Leaders and Professionals and develop your global leader competency.

The RockMeRetreat is designed to amplify your success on your chosen career path and help you move towards the breakthrough you need to become a Rockstar in your chosen field!

Sign up here for entering the conversation with me. If you wish to speak to me directly, please book an appointment by replying to this email.

Kind regards,
Angie.

 

I found myself discussing this topic with a lot of people over the last few weeks, and have decided to break it down for readers in this week’s Club Sandwich. Let’s get right to it!

I want to brief you all about Global Competency and how it is determining the growth of skills in international professionals. As I also describe in the Global Mobility Workbook, ‘Global Competency is the ability to work effectively in a global, complex environment with a high level of stress, while achieving goals sustainably and in accordance with your own resources’. It is a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills, reflected experiences and body learning.

What are these skills? There are a diverse set of abilities that can help your global competency, ranging from developing your language skills (learning a foreign language is great!) to effectively using digital media (Social Media platforms & video conferencing). 

Other skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills also help cement your Global Competency. That last one feeds into digital media skills as well, since most modern communication happens over Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (and their corporate equivalents). In fact, I believe media competency is critical for any globally active professional in these technology-driven times. As I mentioned last time you can also practice logical thinking through tests and games. My grandma plays Scrabble against herself. She’s doing great and beats me every time with her 97 years of age.

It’s a journey of constant self-improvement that will keep your Global Competency up to scratch! 

You might think you know everything already to get by. I believe though that we all need to engage in continuous, lifelong learning if we don’t want to be replaced by “Virginia Robot” soon.

If you want to develop your skills and keep track of your learning goals you can use the Rockmeapp to do that. As a reader of the Global People Club Sandwich your 12months subscription to the Rockmeapp is free of charge. You will also get a special rate for coaching sessions with me.

I wish you all a productive week.Global Competency also requires rethinking yourself in a global arena. Here are three priorities:

1) Analyze and improve the way you build professional relationships, learn to be an active listener to gain better access to people of other cultures. 
2) Reflect on your unconscious bias. Where could it play a role? Have you potentially disadvantaged a woman or a person with a minority background through your implicit assumptions about gender roles or cultural supremacy?
3) Check and write down stereotypes and work on your attitude towards people of other cultures.

If you want to develop your skills and keep track of your learning goals you can use the Rockmeapp to do that. As a reader of the Global People Club Sandwich your 12months subscription to the Rockmeapp is free of charge. You will also get a special rate for coaching sessions with me.