Category Archives: Global Leaders

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

About three years ago, I published an unfinished book chapter to a circle of clients on Facebook to help one or two people in the group for whom I hoped the chapter would be helpful. What happened next is that I got a message from an old friend. He offered his feedback on the chapter.

I immediately felt discouraged, thought that everything was wrong and wished I had never put the document out there. I had a full horror scenario in my mind. I was about to hit reply “Thank you but the document was already edited professionally. I did not ask you for feedback.”

I was angry and scared.

Then I read the comment again with which I published the document and noticed that I might have solicited the feedback. Was I even fishing for compliments?

Did I not ask people to tell me if they found the chapter helpful?

I muttered that my friend should not have criticized my work. I did not ask him for a proofread. I did not explicitly ask for his feedback. I did not want to have a Skype conversation with him.

Then I remembered my words from a training I recently gave. Most people give feedback and advice without permission. I advise clients to assume positive intentions. I thanked my friend for the offer and pushed the date for the Skype conversation. I wanted to hear his ideas but only when I feel secure, professional and ready. I almost asked him to send the feedback in writing. Then I remembered that he was not paid for it. I remembered that he is in fact a great logical thinker and proofreader and that I might be able to get a perspective that only he can provide. I took the feedback in. It was hard. I finally concluded that I needed to invest a lot more time into the manuscript and then I did not do anything for about 1.5 years. When I was ready to tackle the book, I almost rebuilt it and then I had to have it proofread by a native speaker. Again, I was shattered by the feedback and critique.

The episode with my friend repeated itself about six months ago. I thought I was finally ready to publish “The Global Career Workbook” when my friend asked me why I had not showed my manuscript to him. I did not say anything but sent him the manuscript asking for a review of the logic, structure and if the flow made sense to him. He reviewed two chapters and sent back a line-by-line review. I almost through my laptop out of the window that Monday morning.

I emailed back, asked him to stop working on it and mentioned the editing and that I had not asked for a line-by-line feedback but a general review of the logic and structure of the book. I almost stopped the publication.

What I noticed is that I will never by like my friend and my products will never be like his (paid) work, because I am another person than him and I have other strengths. My English will also never be as smooth as my editors. No, my English will always sound a bit off and I might make mistakes because I am not a native speaker.

Maybe you would not read my newsletter if my friend wrote it, maybe you would hate my writing if it was smooth like my editor’s and maybe you would not be interrupted in your flow if my English was flawless. Maybe you would think I am robot or copywriter and not the Angie you believe you know.

As a solopreneur, you might have phases where your self-confidence is as low as the batteries on my iphone. I have doubts about my quality when I forget to pull the presentation on the laptop before a training, when the laptop does not want to start before the training or when I take a wrong turn and show up late. So far though no major drama ensued. So far, I always find solutions (even without a big armada of support staff behind me). So far, a few readers really work with my workbook.

You need to belief that only you can deliver your services they way you do. Out there in the world there will be companies, clients and customers for your art. You just have to find them or give them a chance to find you.

When I make mistakes or when my final product is not perfect it annoys me. I learnt over the years though that there is a point where you have to let go, where your additional input does not improve your output. Another rule I have learnt is to work with highly skilled professionals. You can’t always be sure that the person you hire to support you is the best in their field but you can test them for a while and see if they meet your standard. If they don’t then you have to move on. You also need to remember that a perfect product will almost never be paid. So if you already spent a day on developing the content of the presentation but you are only paid for delivery stop being a perfectionist and work with what you have.

Have an inspired and wonderful week.
Angie

Global Mobility Policies are biased

Traditional global mobility policies written by Western companies with their outlook on taxation, international assignments and a home-based compensation approach do not fit today’s world any longer. They had a cultural understanding of a nuclear family and terminology from the Army.

We Global Mobility Professionals often sound like we are at war. We speak about home and host country, expatriation, repatriation or hardship as if our patria or home territory was the only island of happiness in the world.

We coined the term “home leave” to suggest that only “at home” we can relax and enjoy our life, while at the foreign outposts in Mombasa and Rio de Janeiro we are at war with the local population.

As Global Mobility Professionals, we are surprised that the stream of inbounds and outbounds has changed. These days the main expatriation routes are no longer going out from Europe or the US. We see assignees from China going to Switzerland, India to Sweden and Indonesia to Holland. We managed London to New York and now it is Casablanca to Mombasa or Caracas to Madrid.

A lot of moves and a lot of different cultural assumptions question the traditional models.

What is “fair” in a global team?

It is hard to say what is “fair” in a global team. Will you accept that your colleague from India gets paid about 50% of your salary? Do you find it ethical that your passport qualifies you to a better standard of living? Is the home-approach still feasible in a non-colonial, non-hierarchical and skill-based “eco-system”? Are we innovative enough in Global Mobility or are we repeating patterns of society that are as outdated as the suit I’m wearing to work today?

We’ve known for years that expats discuss their benefits but they used to do it secretly back in the nineties. I’m pretty sure now there is a WhatsApp-Group to discuss your benefits package by location.

Why should you believe your employer is giving you the best package possible? Why should you believe that the policy applies in your case when everyone up in the higher ranks seems to get an exception?

Generation Y populates the workforce. The “I”-Generation is more individualistic and used to instant gratification. This generation does not accept a one-size fit all principle. Policy segmentation is a start but I think we need to customize our proposals to assignees and their families even further.

Coming from an egalitarian culture, being fair and giving fair chances to everyone has always been important to me. Over the years I have learned though, that the assignees with the best negotiation skills have the best packages. Female assignees and assignees from less assertive cultures on the other hand often accept what they have been offered. Their request for amendments is quiet and not understood.

Senior management can request anything and often is it granted. For them “policy” is almost like a red flag that needs to be challenged.

We assume that assignees need financial incentives and that financials are the major consideration point when deciding whether to go on an international assignment or not.

We should consider skill development, learning opportunities, living conditions and extra services and build them into the benefits matrix. Providing these will also give more equity in the host country. I also believe that the classical home approach won’t last very much longer. Until we can fully customize packages we will need better GM Technology, engaged Global Mobility Managers and above all HR leaders with an international mindset.

Angie Weinberger

You might also want to attend the “Building the Global Mobility Business Case”-Workshop by Expatise Academy in Amsterdam on 23 JAN 2018.