Category Archives: Global Leaders

In the TGV Lyria the French train running between Paris and Zurich all seats are normally taken. Like on a plane you need to sit in your reserved seat. In Switzerland there are no reservations. When a train gets too full and extra train is implemented during high times. Switzerland deals with this issue by adding more trains.

On Saturday, I entered the train in Dijon (France – the city of mustard) and placed my suitcase at the beginning of the compartment but could not find me seat in the lower deck. First I thought that there was an error on my ticket. Then I noticed the upper deck. I walked back, went up the stairs and thought “I must remember where I placed my suitcase.”

When I found my assigned seat 106 it was taken by a young girl. I experienced how my “Germanic” sense and preference for structure and order immediately was challenged. My stomach gave me messages “Out of order, not right, what is happening here?”

I tried my best French to state that I had a reservation. The girl showed me her ticket and explained in French that there was a mix up as the young couple in the seat in front of her had taken their seats. No one showed signs of getting up for a middle-aged woman. (My brain said “These younglings…no respect for age.”)

I saw no point in getting angry at the girl and her cute little sister who explained again the same.

I was thinking about approaching the couple directly but for a few minutes I did not know what to say and how to stay polite in French. Then a veiled lady told me to wait for the conductor. I felt out of place as people were trying to pass by. I thought about sitting out the problem and felt a frog creeping in my throat as I tried to say in French that I was standing here like an idiot because of a mix up of seats. I was also getting hot in my winter jacket and worried about fainting.

I felt tired and wanted to sit and work. I don’t like it when my plans get interrupted. I waited in silence and looked at my ticket to decide how long I could stand here. The girl (who was in the wrong seat) became nervous. She urged her boyfriend to handle this embarrassing situation. Then another young man got up and showed him something on his phone. The boy turned to me and said in English “You can take my seat. It’s number 64.“

I went back to the lower deck where I had left my suitcase, could not find 64, then went back up, passed by the boy and smiled. “It’s probably over there”. Then I asked the passenger in seat 64 if he had a reservation. He said yes. I apologized, went back to the boy and said “Did you say 64 or 46?”. He smiled “I said 54.”

I smiled, finally found seat 54 and ended up near where I had originally placed my suitcase.

Why am I telling you this?

I thought this is one of the situations that you experience in a new country all the time during your cultural adjustment.

I was proud of myself that I did not get too angry and tried to use humor in an awkward social situation in a language I did not feel 100% comfortable in. It also showed me again that your inner state is important when handling intercultural issues. You can solve problems better when you stay calm and composed even if a situation upsets you.

This situation gave me a good chance to apply my seven principles for intercultural effectiveness and I learnt once again

I could have reacted differently but by being quiet and patient the younglings came up with a solutions that was a win-win for all of us.

Other lessons learnt that help in intercultural settings.

1) Communicate your Needs

I should have said that I need to sit and work. Everything else did not matter to me. I should have said that I did not sleep well and that my back hurts when I stand to long but I did not. Maybe I could have arranged the new seat faster with better communication and checking in about the seat number. How often does it happen in intercultural communication that we do not really understand each other?

2) Forget Powerplay, Authority and Assumptions about Social Hierarchy

It’s not always necessary to play a power game when you can solve problems together. In order to do that you need to keep an open mind and accept a bit of chaos (which is hard with a Germanic mindset). I admit I felt a bit entitled and was going to pull an arrogant move, about how I had paid for my seat etc…but something stopped me from doing that. Maybe I am not that kind of person anymore.

3) Religion means nothing – Love is everything

The boyfriend’s argument “I wanted to be close to my girlfriend…” convinced me and I really did not question that I could take his seat instead. I loved that everyone seemed to sympathize with me and engaged in my “problem”. I expected the least support from the veiled lady but she immediately provided a solution. My heart went out to her as I thought she does not need to help a stranger.

 

4) Small issues can create big emotions

Although this was such a small dilemma it almost made me cry. I felt awkward and out of place, someone who does not fit in and this probably triggered old childhood memories of being new in class with a funny accent when I was showing up in second grade after our big family move. Watch your feelings and emotions. They might be triggered by old memories.

One of my clients asked me why I did not spend more time explaining tests and preparing you for tests. One of the reasons is that tests are out of my radar a bit. Yesterday I forced myself through a psychometric test. As you know I sometimes go through interviews too. First of all, going through the process helps me sympathize with you. Secondly, I constantly look for new projects and sometimes a new projects means to apply for a full-time position.

What I did not know is that nowadays application processes are designed to test your patience and perseverance more than your work experience or actual knowledge of the subject matter at hand. It starts with all the duplication of data you have to enter in the applicant tracking system and ends with the surprise of being invited to an online test that is supposed to last two hours…and then takes up almost your whole Sunday.

I followed the advice of the recruiter and went through all trial tests on my couch in my PJ first thing Sunday morning. I felt like I was not in my right mind and that I could not do most of the math tasks without pen, paper and a calculator. Then I was disturbed by an alarm clock. I had to get up and lost time. I also felt it took me very long to understand the English texts which made me think that the tests are biased against non-native speakers. I did not know how elaborate this system was. My the time I finally started the real test I only had one wish: Get through this and see it as a self-experiment.

I understood that there was no deduction for giving the wrong answer and sometimes the last questions were the easier ones. I knew I wanted to finish all questions (even by guessing) and I tried to keep an open attitude even though my ego had been hurt already a fair bit.

I started with the personality test as I figured this would be easiest. Then I did the hardest one for me which was the inductive reasoning test, next the numerical analysis test and then a test where you had to read a paragraph and answer questions to it.

What I found strange is that there was no communication on when and whether I will see the result of my efforts and my lost Sunday. Companies should tell you such stuff. Also, they should tell you that these tests are made for people with Einstein’s IQ. I wrote down a few first tips for you when you are invited to psychometric tests:

1) Go through all the sample and practice test the same company offers.
2) Sign up to their mailing list for future challenges and new test questions.
3) Read all the instructions carefully and check if they have a version in your native language.
4) Make sure you block about three hours and have ZERO disturbance.
5) Take short breaks between the tests and drink water.
6) Make sure you actually have a simple calculator.*
7) If you expect more tests it might be worthwhile buying preparatory tests or books especially if you are a dinosaur like me who has not been to school for more than 20 years.

Here are also two links that might help you. I am not affiliated with those companies but they look genuine.

If you have further links and tips to share please let me know.

http://www.psychometricinstitute.com.au/Psychometric-Test-Guide/Psychometric-Test-Tips.html

http://career-advice.careerone.com.au/job-interview-tips/psychometric-testing/top-10-tips-to-prepare-for-a-psychometric-test/article.aspx

This week, I would like you to challenge yourself by running a self-experiment on a topic that feels like a challenge for you. Please share your experience with me. Thank you.

Angie

PS: I thought I had a calculator, but this one is one of my oldest belongings. I think I already used it at uni and the buttons did not really work anymore. I used the one on my phone but it made me lose time as it would sign out.

The dictionary definition of agility is “the ability to be quick and graceful.” Sounds like a must for dancers, but agility is also one of the crucial requirements for global leaders today.

Agile leaders deliver various benefits for their organizations – among them, worker satisfaction, loyalty, stronger motivation and (perhaps best of all) business longevity. But agility doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people, even for talented leaders. The natural tendency for many is to have a myopic perspective of situations, preventing them from taking into account the different variables that impact both process and results.

For example, you’re the boss of a growing enterprise and you’re focused on productivity in order to satisfy your demanding clients. So, you constantly tell your employees to uphold high standards in everything they do – perhaps, you even request them to work overtime to easily meet deadlines and solve issues that arise when conditions get stressful. They deliver for the company, but as a leader, do you recognize the value of their output?

Do you understand that in order to keep your operations afloat and save the good reputation of the company, they have given up part of their personal time, and made other sacrifices?

As a leader, what has been your expression of appreciation for their effort? A “thank you” or “good job”? Did you even bother at all?

If you have leadership agility, acting with great consideration is a must. You don’t want to ever appear like you’re taking your workers for granted. You don’t want your workers to feel like you don’t notice their hard work because this will snuff out their drive. Most of them will perhaps not say anything and stay on board (for some time). They will continue to work because that’s expected of them.

But eventually it will be apparent that you cannot count on them to dish out the goods. With low morale and inspiration, mediocre will rise to be the norm. Needless to say, if you have dreams of globalizing your business, that’s going to be difficult to achieve.

The enemy of progress is being average. And this is usually the result of a leader’s lack of agility. Therefore, if you’re resolved to keep your organization growing, supercharging your leadership ability is a must.

4 Ways to Boost Leadership Agility

1.     Continue learning

Being an eternal student can shape and prepare you better for the changes that can happen in your organization. Harness the benefits of executive coaching and other learning programs. You’ll have a bigger trove of solutions that can be used for issues that may arise along the way. If you have solutions ready, this will not only strengthen the confidence your followers have in you, it will also inspire them to do as you do.

2.     Come up with ways to improve the people working with you

Average is the enemy, right? Well, you need to make sure that your people have no reason to be average and the best thing to do that is by investing in opportunities that can either develop new skills or boost their strengths. But before you do that, carefully assess their weaknesses and strengths. This way, you’ll be able to match them with the most appropriate or suitable programs for their improvement.

Want to know the best advantage to doing this? It clearly shows that they are valuable to you and you want to continue working with them. This can boost their confidence and their drive in delivering more value for you and the organization.

3.     Establish a feedback and monitoring mechanism

Gaining information on the sentiments of workers will provide you a better understanding of how employees feel about your leadership and the efficacy of whatever leadership methods you utilize.

4.     Make brainstorming sessions a norm in your operations

Encouraging this activity will grow the idea bank of your organization and likewise, it presents the opportunity to identify members that serve as movers and shakers so you can have a more effective and efficient leadership and take the organization to greater heights.

Leadership agility is a vital component to success – it’s leadership done right. Therefore, focus on this and make sure that as a leader you demonstrate it at all times.

 

Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.

 

 

 

In 1995 I went to study abroad in Tasmania, Australia. Naturally, my friends and I wanted to learn diving during our holidays. We went up to the Great Barrier Reef and learnt to dive. Needless to say diving is to date one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Under water I am at peace with the world and the fish schools amaze me. Fishes can also be quite funny or annoyed. They have feelings and they collaborate in their schools. They are a bit like the modern global professionals. I hope you are a diver and can relate to the feeling of a deep dive early morning (before 6 am) where everyone is getting up and quirky. Where you feel happy because of creation and the miracles the world entails, where you are just in the moment – an observer and yet part of it all. If you are a diver you also know about the security stop. You and your diving buddy take a rest before the final ascent. For the non-divers this is done because of nitrogen and time you need to get it out of your system.
I took a security stop this year, a very short holiday to Dubai. I haven’t posted it on Facebook because I did not want to meet anyone. I wanted to be alone with one of my long-term buddies, my best friend and we talked a lot. We allowed ourselves to let some of the dirt out of our system. The dirt that collects there when you take more in than you let out. The dirt of critique, small failures, over-indulging and even worse pessimistic thinking. After a few days we felt like human beings again. Productivity is great and I like to get stuff done and tick off checklists and write down how much I have achieved during a day, but once in a while, you need to allow yourself a break from performing.

 

Sometimes it is helpful not to have an agenda.  A week to be yourself without access to a laptop and limited online time gives you back the feeling of your body, maybe you recognize all the slack that you caught there over the year. My friend returned to the office and was welcomed with a promotion. My body decided to go into standby completely with a flu. Let’s say I did not achieve a lot in December. When I showed up at my family’s home on Christmas eve I was calm and for a few days I could just give my family members the attention they deserve. Isn’t that why we are alive? To love?

By Caitlin Krause

A new calendar year prompts a feeling of open possibility, and a curiosity to discover and realize our greatest potentials, in business and beyond. We’re undoubtedly living in times of rapid change and high demand; times of immense challenge. I certainly feel it– all I need to do is glance at daily news headlines to have a feeling of perspective and urgency.

We want to ensure that the work we’re doing is valued; we want to know that it matters, and matches our own personal goals and resolutions (which, let’s face it, span far beyond the hype and trend of the new year). We strive to maintain a sense of balance, as we navigate this complex world, maintaining focus and resilience, while maximizing our capabilities. In addition, the global corporate culture and increased connectivity require even more flexibility, and broader skill sets that encompass a range of intelligences, including emotional intelligence and empathy.

Instead of feeling daunted, it’s the ideal time for us to invite some mindfulness into the equation. Here we are in a complex, fascinating environment, ripe with opportunity. The field of global mobility and intercultural exchange has never been more exciting– and, there has never been a higher demand for everyone to develop these skills and abilities, across all industries and vocations. It’s a time when adopting a modern, holistic global competency model is imperative– one that embraces a flexible, resilient mindset. Integrating mindfulness values and practices into a model of global competency makes perfect sense, and has significant long-term benefits for career, health, well-being and happiness.

I have a client who travels between five hub cities, located in three separate continents, on a regular basis. In each place, she has a slightly different lifestyle, and varied expectations to fulfill the job requirement. When she discovered the uses mindfulness has in increasing flexibility, resilience, and stress management, she was amazed at the positive impact. Mindfulness, and specifically the methods I’ve developed, can be summed up by 3 A’s: awareness, advancement, and authenticity. I custom-design mindfulness programs that are experiential, practical, and sustainable. By focusing on providing support, engagement, personalization and expertise, individuals can build on the traditional dimensions of the Global Competency Model described by Weinberger (2016) that are already well-recognized in truly diverse intercultural competency programs.

The connection between global competency and mindfulness is clear, and it’s enhanced my own experience. When I first moved overseas to Belgium, I was busy teaching, coaching, and adjusting to the new environment at the same time– plus, setting up a home. I was impatient with myself for struggling with my basic-level French; at the same time, I didn’t yet anticipate the cultural norms that take time to adjust to– everything from taking a ticket as a number to stand in line at the bakery to the fact that all stores are closed on Sundays, which was the one day that I didn’t coach or teach full-time– this was constantly a surprise, and my initial reaction was to look at my own naïveté as a form of failure.

Mindfulness taught me to flip this concept– I embraced my own enhanced awareness, celebrating the foibles that I could then laugh about, convincing myself that someday they will become part of a book (which could be a Bill Bryson spinoff titled: “Bumbling through Belgium”). I began to feel gratitude for my vitality– for the very feeling, uncomfortable at times, that reminds me that I’m alive(!). I felt immensely grateful for the mix of backgrounds and experiences that create the unexpected. I also grew to appreciate that a population is not homogenous, yet we share underlying truths and a certain mutual respect and dignity. These insights are also embedded in mindfulness– an appreciation for what is, in the moment, even as we set-goals and look toward the emerging future.

In a globalised working culture, mindfulness is especially valuable because it gives agency back to the individual. It gave me a better sense of stability, even in situations that were beyond my ability to anticipate and fully control. Because of this, mindfulness also increased my connection capacity in place of fragmentation. In other words, I was able to reach out and connect with others more easily, because I was more self-aware and had developed skills of resiliency. I was confident, not despite my challenges, but because of them. In Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s seminal book Mindset, she relates this capacity to growth mindset, and it’s all about mindfulness, self-awareness, and embracing the rigor instead of denying or avoiding it.

We live in the midst of a global corporate climate that is rife with burnout, stress and depression. Recent studies cite stress and burnout as the top threat to workplace health, resulting in great losses across all quality measurement areas, including employee work satisfaction, job retention, company culture, and revenue. The rate of burnout continues to increase each year; mindfulness is seen as a top strategy and method to provide burnout prevention. Instead of succumbing to this threatening trend, looking at establishing an environment that promotes the best, most adaptive and advantageous state of well-being is the answer for global leadership.

As a burnout prevention measure, stress reducer, leadership and confidence booster, creativity cultivator, and overall well-being motivator and life enhancer, mindfulness serves as a necessary base layer for a holistic model of leadership, learning and global competency. For me, it’s a lens to look through, and it can be applied to just about everything.

This could be why, when I’m asked to define mindfulness, I call it simply: “a way to be in the world”– with awareness (understanding of surrounding context), advancement (having a sense of purpose), and authenticity (detaching from judgment; focusing on situations while maintaining resilience). I use these three A’s as foundational pillars for designing applications and programs.

Being globally competent involves developing a wide range of capacities– and, the ability to truly reflect on the learning experience and acknowledge the complexity of global systems involves great awareness– including cultural awareness, emotional awareness and self awareness.

I apply this philosophy with many different practical approaches, making it real, personal, holistic, and able to be experienced by each individual in a powerful way. In addition, it reinforces the sense of community, which is perfectly in-line with global mobility dimensions of supporting the whole person in a long-term, reflective approach that encompasses a multitude of lifelong learning facets and personal experiences.

Recognizing our own multi-dimensional natures and experiences, this makes perfect sense, allowing us to build our abilities and reach goals while staying grounded in this complex, inter-connected global landscape. Combining mindfulness and global competency could yield a new, even more powerful concept: mindful global competency. Let’s test it out!

Kicking off the New Year, I have already dedicated myself to several aspirations and goals, many of which are definitely “curiosity-driven” pursuits, all embedded in a framework of mindful global competency. I’ll invite you to try out a few exercises, to test the process for yourself and give it a go. See what it feels like to sit down and write your own answers to the following. Just go with where your reflections take you, in the moment, without over-thinking:

  • Awareness: Record something, in a description, that made you happy yesterday. Include as many of the five senses as possible. For example, if you were happy when you went for a hike in the woods, try to describe the temperature, the feel of it, the colors and sights around you, etc. Try to bring yourself back there through the writing.
  • Advancing: Write down three attributes that you have that you value in yourself– these could be any quality, from trustworthiness to funny to For each quality, what is a life situation that you have experienced– an “anecdote”– that illustrates it in your life? Feel free to think of examples that have humor. Could you practice by sharing this out loud with someone else? Sometimes, these illustrated moments make for great connection points, yet we deny ourselves the right to “own them” and appreciate them.
  • Authentic: Think back to an experience where the time itself was not what you expected in the short term, yet it offered some sort of long-term benefit. Describe the situation in detail, using a “before” perspective (anticipation), a “during” (experience), and an “after” (reflection). What do you appreciate about it now, in hindsight? How do you think it adds some flavor and dimension to your life?

Sometimes, just taking time to record our own reflections and thoughts about these experiences can lend us deeper clarity and insight. For me, building components of writing and storytelling into my mindfulness practice adds an extra layer of appreciation, insight, and what I call “connection capacity”. May it add to your life, too. After all, 2017 is wide open with possibility, and we all want to make the most of that!

Wishing you a wonderful year, filled with surprise and delight, enjoying the ride.

Caitlin

 

Guest post by Caitlin Krause, Founder & CEO, MindWise.

Caitlin Krause  is a creative collaborator  with a curiosity-driven mindset. As the founder of MindWise, she’s a writer, storyteller, teacher, speaker, VR designer, artist and leadership specialist. Her passion for active, sustainable, ethically-driven leadership and learning models drives her work. 

Empowering personal and organizational change, MindWise’s core “AAA” values are: Aware, Advancing, and Authentic. Caitlin integrates best practices and new discoveries about creativity, neuroscience, mindfulness and technology to promote immersive empathetic experiences on a local and global scale. 

 

Reference:

Weinberger, A. (2016): The Global Mobility Workbook, print ed., Global People Transitions, Zurich