Category Archives: Global Leaders

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.

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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.

 

As our workplaces rapidly embrace international professionals and multiculturalism and become more diverse, an interesting development has come to light that I feel needs to be addressed at the earliest: the process of feedback in an intercultural context and how to tackle its many flaws.

These days there is this idea made common in several industries, particularly the tech sector, that abrasive, instant feedback is a way to stop beating about the bush and giving it straight to the recipient, sometimes even in public spaces. The idea being that the pressure created by the ‘tough love’ will motivate employees into bringing out their best, something that even Hollywood has glamorized with films like The Devil Wears Prada.

The reality is that there are issues with providing instant feedback, the most frequent one being that you fail to realize if the issue you are raising is concerning a person’s individual personality, or a cultural trait or was purely situational.

The second common issue is that feedback works differently in different cultures. Basically, your attempt at it may not even register, or come across in a negative manner. Americans, for instance, generally pepper in several positive comments before raising a negative one, while most Europeans are straightforward and critical about the whole thing. In a lot of Asian countries, feedback is discussed implicitly, and only provided in private settings and not in the public workspace. Do you see now how instant feedback could be misconstrued in an intercultural context? In fact, a lot of the latest discussions talk about ending the ‘traditional’ concept of feedback altogether, as it has shown time and again to not help improve performance. You can read about it here.

An important bit from the last paragraph was how feedback was culturally handled in Asian countries, in a one-on-one setting. It is actually now considered a preferable alternative to traditional feedback sheets. Combining that with the continuous feedback style is key to fostering a better relationship between employee and manager. It boosts the turnover rate for improvement as managers no longer have to wait for an arbitrary amount of time to discuss and motivate an employee, then wait another arbitrary amount of time before iterating on that previous session. Any undesirable behaviour or poor performance is not given time to grow as it could evolve into something worse.

One-on-one meetings further help this regular improvement along – these sessions allow for a more candid and diverse discussion that isn’t restricted to whatever rubric was set up on a feedback form. Combined, these two techniques can help managers bring out the best in their employees and build a more positive and constructive feedback cycle that is morale and productivity boosting. It is essential that this entire process be made a conversation, a two-way interaction rather than a session where a manager shares their rating of their employee’s skills. This is especially important as recent research and studies are showing what has been a constant point of discussion: that human beings are incapable of reliably rating themselves or other humans. You can read the thorough breakdown over at the Harvard Business Review, who make a strong case against the current practices of ‘feedback culture’.

Finally, I’d like to build on the concept of feedback but in a slightly tangential way: the idea behind ratings. Specifically, students rating their lecturers or teachers. Ratings have become an integral part of modern culture, we rate everything from food to places to car rides to memes. However, the entire concept is highly reductive and strips context and depth from any situation. For instance, giving an Uber driver driving dangerously a 1-star is not enough of a response, while a 1-star for a shoddy car will not fix whatever was broken in the vehicle. These rating systems are gamifying a complex thing and are fundamentally broken.

Coming back to students rating lecturers, I’m sure you can now easily spot the possibilities of exploiting the system to the detriment of the lecturer. Is a lecturer bad because he gave your essay a poor grade? Does that one poor grade negate an entire teaching period’s efforts? And is the student able to rate the knowledge areas she doesn’t even know existed?

All that nuance is lost when reduced to a rating system. Additionally, most lecturers are working in a gig-based economy, just like those Uber drivers, and they are at the mercy of these broken ratings system. So often those who entertain and let you pass easily will receive good feedback but those who challenge you and make you work harder will get negative feedback. And where do you think you learned more?

Given that we don’t know what we don’t know and our multi-facetted intercultural contexts, don’t you think feedback is overrated and an outdated concept?

Unless there’s an extenuating circumstance, don’t dignify these ratings systems by assuming they’re real feedback.

Let’s work towards reworking the ratings and feedback biases that drive so many of modern workplaces.

In our RockMeRetreat you will learn more about our bias in decision making and how we are less rational than we would like to think.

You will also learn methods that are more effective in helping yourself and others grow to your full potential.

by Caitlin Krause

I must admit, I initially went to see Spectre in the theater for one prime reason: eye candy. Yes, my motivation was all about the external appeal: I wanted to dive into a light panoplied spectacle that’s equal parts engaging and artificial; to lose myself in iconic imagery, and to revel in watching easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig as James Bond in the flesh.

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Why is Bond so palatable, across generations, sexes, cultures and creeds? Bond is as familiar as he is idolized; men want to be him; women want to date him. Or, women want to be him and men want to date him — it actually doesn’t matter how you slice it; he’s an archetype for the ages; a brand’s dream. Now, with everything from 007 drinks to anti-perspirant, there’s a whole range of products catering to those who want to “be Bond” (or, at least, smell like him).

So, what’s the secret that makes Bond stick? It’s an appeal that’s much deeper than skin. Yes, he’s the quintessential sexy Brit — yet, he also represents something universally appealing to our core sensibility as humans.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@MindWise_CK”] What I soon realized brought a smile: in several major ways, Bond epitomizes a mindful demeanor. [/tweetthis]

Spy and agent activity aside, the following five aspects of Bond’s behavior are mindful hallmarks:

1 — He’s self-directed. James Bond understands the bigger picture, and he usually knows the next steps he needs to take, without always waiting for direction and instruction from authority figures. In this way, he exhibits modern leadership traits of self-reliance and strength. His superiors (Ralph Fiennes among them, as the new “M”) learn to give him a certain amount of autonomy, promoting modern teamwork models of self-management and mutual trust.

2 — He’s radically honest. Bond rarely (if ever) feigns friendship. He’s true to his allies, and his opponents know where he stands. He usually gives others the benefit of the doubt, until his trust is compromised. He even sometimes puts himself in vulnerable positions (such as visiting enemy lairs and hangouts) in the hopes of gaining knowledge and forming alliances. He’s cautious, yet open, which often gives him a hidden advantage… and, heightens the drama.

3 — He’s patient. Strategic and contemplative, Bond knows how to wait for the opportune moment. He’s not impulsive — rather, he’s direct and deliberate. He plans, without over-thinking to the point of rumination. Impressive in his own circumspect manner, he also delays/denies his own fun… if he’s pushed to sacrifice it, that is. The opening scene of Spectre is case-in-point: is Bond’s female companion from the festival in Mexico City still waiting for him to return to their hotel room? In a classic comic scene, she asks him where he’s going, he disappears out the window, telling her that he’ll “be right back”… yet, way leads unto way, and it seems there are more important matters at hand.

4 — He knows how to focus. Along with the above point, Bond knows how to be fully engaged in the present moment, without fixating on past and future. This doesn’t mean that he can’t learn from his experiences, yet he doesn’t let them distract him from his goals. In fact, we see any fixation on ghosts from the past revealed as a weakness, which is part of the theme of Spectre. What might haunt him instead becomes an advantage when he learns how to apply his knowledge and focus to the present moment.

5 — He can kick off his shoes and have a good time. Basically, Bond would be a fun date. I’m not certain if he’s much of a conversationalist, yet he seems to appreciate the moments of joy (ahem!) along the way. He can joke around a bit, and he often pauses between the high-stress moments in order to appreciate the finer details. He likes his martinis shaken, not stirred, and he loves the thrill of the ride (after all, it’s all about the journey, right?). Fineries aside, I could certainly imagine Bond appreciating the beauty in a reflective moment… fleeting as it might be.

Yes, while I could point out all of the mindful aspects of his personality and behavior, certainly Bond’s propensity for fisticuffs would discredit him from becoming the mindful poster-boy. Still, for me, it’s compelling to consider that much of the Bond attraction could be due to his cool, calm, collected persona. Developing a life of his own seems to be his next mission… This just might be the ultimate mindful message: in the end, Bond chooses personal love over his agent identity. Could this be his moment of mindful redemption? If so, love really does conquer all.

Airport

by Brooke Faulkner

Retraining into a different career or opening a small business isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. When you’ve decided to start over completely in a new country, the circumstances are rarely ideal. The pressure is on for so many reasons — moving is expensive, and you may only have one chance to make it. There may not be family and friends close by to pick you up if you fall. You’re likely being inundated with new experiences and culture shock, and maybe learning new skills is the last thing on your mind.

If you’re looking to take a new step in your career, however, or at starting a business in a new place, spending extra time on acquiring a business degree could be well worth it. Let’s go over the pros and cons.

As so many other people have proven, it’s very possible to thrive in a new country, and all that pressure might just be the motivation you need to start on a path that truly makes you happy.

The big questions are:

Should You Retrain With a Degree?

The short answer to this question is: it depends. In countries like America, where student debt is skyrocketing, it can be a difficult question and dependent on the resources available. In other countries like Germany, where tuition fees are subsidized, it’s a much easier proposition.

It’s impossible to say “yes, absolutely” or “no, definitely not,” because the world is full of different types of success. Some college dropouts go on to become extremely successful, while many jobs with high salaries won’t consider candidates without relevant degrees. Especially in the business world, roles and job titles are becoming more specialized, and companies hiring for management, finance, and other demanding roles like to see a strong background like a business degree.

As someone new to the country, you won’t have a local job history, and so a degree can provide the proof that you’re knowledgeable and skilled enough for the job.

Does the Type of Degree and Location Matter?

In a word, yes. One of the big questions to ask is where to get a degree to support a career transition. If you’re moving to somewhere where education is cheaper, you may want to wait. If you’re moving to somewhere that education is more expensive, it might be better to plan ahead and work on evening classes or online courses before you move.

Another angle to consider is how the country you’re moving to views the schools in the country you’re moving from. Some degrees are transferable from country to country, but many are not. If that’s the case, you might be wasting your time investing in higher education before you move, only to find out it’s not usable! Different countries will have different professional standards, and different demands in the job market. It may very well be that the country you’re moving from has more prestigious institutions. If the country you’re moving to doesn’t offer courses in a language you’re familiar with, that’s another reason to seek higher education before you move.

Online courses are a potential solution to this problem. You may be able to start studying abroad before you move. Or it might be in your best interests just to wait and plan on deciding what kind of new skills and education you need after you move.

Financing Options

Financial aid differs from country to country. The availability and amount of financial aid, and whether you qualify, should have a large impact on your decision. The amount of financial aid from government programs might be better in your home country, or the country you’re moving to might have specific grants and loans for immigrants or international students. Going to a country on a student visa first can often be a stepping stone toward future residence. Germany, for example, has abolished all tuition fees — even for international students.

Starting a Business in Another Country?

Some countries, such as Canada give preference to immigrants who are looking to start a business. Merit-based visa applications can be helped along greatly if you can prove that you’re going to create jobs. Do you need a business degree for that? Not necessarily! Canada, for example, just requires that you acquire support from designated Canadian investors. But you might need a degree to convince investors in your capabilities.

Bill Gates famously dropped out of school. He went on to build one of the biggest companies in the world. Steve Jobs dropped out too. In fact, there are plenty of stories of dropouts who made it big. As inspiring as it is, though, don’t let the hype cloud your judgement. For every famous dropout, there are so many more dropouts who don’t make it. Since we see the famous ones talked about a lot, it’s easy to buy into the dropout myth — that higher education is not necessary.

While it’s absolutely possible to succeed as a business owner without a business degree, getting the right degree can help reduce the risk of failure immensely — and in the business world, the risk of failure is very high. According to Investopedia: “The SBA states that only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. The SBA goes on to state that only 25% make it to 15 years or more.”

Getting the right education gives you the knowledge to start up successfully and future-proof your business against mistakes made early on, that become disastrous later. You’ll learn a lot of the details about running a small business that you might otherwise not know or learn without training and mentorship. You’ll learn lessons the easy way, in a safe environment, instead of learning them during business failure.

So, is a business degree worth it? Honestly, that’s up to you. Like everything in life, a degree’s worth is in how it’s used. The wrong degree could be a waste or a hindrance, but the right one could set you up for success in a way nothing else can.

In many cases what you’ll want is good information. That could come in the form of a career or academic advisor based in the country you’re interested in moving to.

Need further guidance?

Check out Angie Weinberger’s Global Career Workbook or sign up to our website as a Reader of the Global People Club Sandwich.

Degrees in Global Mobility:

Please mention AngieWeinberger as a reference and contact her if you want any advice on the Master Course. Angie has gone through it herself too and is a lecturer in the course.

You can find her Master Thesis here.


Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner is a writer in the Pacific Northwest who has conducted business all over the world. You can find more of her writing on Twitter via @faulknercreek

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