Category Archives: Global Teams

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Prof. Tamara Pawluk is specialized in cognitive diversity and inclusion. She has collaborated with teams designing Diversity and Inclusion campaigns and training teams to leverage diversity potential. Her professional goal is to contribute to any organization where diversity is seen as a key factor to achieve competitive advantages. Interestingly, she also works as Project Manager for Diego Romero Music to support her husband in bringing Argentinian and Latin American music into the European market. 

In early September I  met her in her apartment in Berlin to get inspired by what she does. 

Who is Tamara Pawluk in a nutshell? 

I am an interculturalist by profession and by mindset. I like working with people from different cultural

Headshot
Prof. Tamara Pawluk

backgrounds, I am a curious person and I like to listen to stories. I have the feeling that everyone has a story to tell and that even when they think it’s not interesting, I always find it fascinating. I mean, we’re all protagonists of our lives after all.
I also love learning, not only from books and manuals but especially from people. I love to be amazed by what others do in their professions and act as a connecting bridge between them. 

I’ve been teaching at college for six years. I love doing classes and helping people develop their talent and discovering their potential together. Currently I am mostly dedicated to webinars but I keep teaching within the startup I work for, Expertlead

I am  a very family-oriented person too and love spending time at home with my husband and my friends, playing cards or board games, watching Netflix…or going outside to practice roller skating (and failing miserably) 😉 

Can you tell us a bit more about Expertlead and your projects there? 


Our core business is trying to build a solid network of freelancers. However, we do this in a very human-centric way i.e. guiding them through a professional self-discovery journey and helping them plan their career development. We mostly work with IT professionals: front-end and back-end developers, mobile developers, software development engineers, architects, project managers, designers and data scientists. We try to understand what exactly each of them brings to the table and only then we do the matching. We don’t just feel responsible for ensuring that they get paid for their job, but we also worry that they are performing tasks that they really enjoy.  Besides that, we also do webinars on professional branding, CV improvement, train the trainers, stakeholder management, and soft skills training. 

As the head of freelancer management, I strive to help freelancers be the best versions of themselves.

One of the Diversity and Inclusion projects we’ve just launched is our blog series “Freelancing Women in Tech” about which I am really enthusiastic. We interview female freelancers within the network and discover together their success stories and obstacles they encounter in the IT field as women. 

You can have a look at the blog and at our recent articles where we interview a female iOS developer and a female software engineer

There is a lot of potential in IT when it comes to D&I and we’re trying to get in touch with other associations that might be connected to a wide and diverse talent pool. For example, we’d like to partner with associations for refugees that promote IT educational programs and other initiatives of this kind. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

Would you like to share with our readers the learning and career path that brought you to the position you so passionately hold now? 

Well, there are a couple of relevant episodes that really marked my professional development. The first was at the age of 15 when I got into an exchange program with people from around various parts of the world. Thanks to this, I got to spend lots of time with people from Tunisia, South Africa, Russia, you name it. Even if I was “just” a teenager, I was amazed by how much you can learn just by actually allowing yourself to be open to everything. That’s basically how I start to learn from people and about people. This marked me so much that it led me to choose my next degree, a BA in Intercultural Management. 

What other salient events happened next? 

Then I had the opportunity to work as a ghost in a haunted mansion at the famous Disney World Park in Orlando 😉 You might wonder what this has to do with what I do currently but…

There I had a conversation with a colleague of mine that really made me start reflecting about a reality I hadn’t been faced with much until then. And so I started getting curious about the topic of diversity and more in particular about gender and sexual orientation and the role that this plays in identity. This was such an eye-opener that I decided to make Diversity and Inclusion the focus of my PhD, creating a fusion with the topic of Intercultural Management.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I met my husband who is a musician. I want to contextualize this: my parents are doctors and when I entered the field of Social Sciences they thought this was already weird. But what they accepted even less easily was me having a musician as my boyfriend. During this phase, I realised how important the role played by professional identity is in our lives. Now they love him as well as his music.

And so I landed in cognitive diversity, i.e. valuing people for the different ideas that they bring at the table and the different experiences they had in life. This brought me to Talent Management and to Berlin, where I currently live. 

I can really say that being part of an amazing team at Expertlead really enables me to bring together all the different aspects of culture identity in which I am a specialist.

What are the major challenges that you face in your industry? 

When it comes to Talent Management, unconscious bias for me is the main obstacle. Too often, I find that  people very easily allow their own prejudices and pre-formed opinions to shape the situation they’re faced with as well as the idea of the person they have in front. The issue with unconscious bias is that in a few seconds, you’ve made up your mind and from that moment you don’t allow yourself to be wrong anymore. 

But we need to change this and learn to admit that we can be wrong about the first impression. We need to learn to get rid of our assumptions, become better listeners and let the new information come in. This is especially important when you work with diversity.

This is interesting. How do you help people raise awareness about their own issues with unconscious bias?

When I encounter new clients, I always start with the most simple biases. I avoid talking about biases linked to gender, race, sexual orientation etc from the very beginning because they might make it difficult for people to let their barriers down.

I’d like you to run this small social experiment. Next time you’re in a group, just try to draw three boxes on a paper and ask three volunteers in front of you to write three words about diversity on the sheet. What happened? 

I can bet that now all boxes contain a word. But have you actually ever asked them to write the words inside the boxes? If you followed my instructions carefully, you did not. 

Yet, if you try to ask people to explain the reasons why they wrote words inside the boxes, you’ll see that they will struggle a lot finding the answers. And this is what a bias is about: thinking/doing something automatically and without second thoughts.

I tried this each semester for six years, and not in a single group was there a volunteer who did this differently.

That’s brilliant and quite an eye-opener.

Now, what education would you recommend to somebody who would like to embark on a career similar to yours?

Well, I’d start by saying that when you deal with jobs around Intercultural and Talent Management, I think it’s really important to find a good mentor. Follow someone in the field to whom you can relate professionally and let yourself be inspired by what they do. It’s not an easy-to-answer question because we, professionals in the intercultural field, very often have a different background. 

Definitely, here in Europe there are a lot of academic courses you can decide from if you want to study this at university, and having studied in Argentina where options are really limited, I don’t know even half of them. 

I am pretty confident when I say that the field of diversity allows for different career paths and allows you as well to find your own professional identity.

Certificates might open a gate or two but they won’t drive your internal need to make a change. It’s relatively easy to obtain certifications, but the most challenging and most important is finding the inner spark inside. Only this will make you thrive. 

What’s your recipe for success? 

Be yourself and be authentic to who you are. You’re never going to be happy trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. One of my mottos, and this is borrowed from a teacher, is 

“Never stay where you don’t want to be.”

Considering that you probably spend half your existence at work. My tip is, if you have the privilege of deciding where you work, choose well where you want to spend your time.

Is there a final thought you’d like to share with our readers? 

You might not be able to change the world, but if you manage to change only one person, you’ve changed a world.

If you want to be in touch with Prof. Tamara Pawluk you can connect on LinkedIn or write to her on Facebook. You can also subscribe to her Youtube channel.

Tamara is also busy writing her book on Diversity Management which she’ll publish in 2021. Stay tuned! 

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/

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/

It’s that time of the year again when we arbitrarily change our clocks by an hour because of reasons that nobody seems to understand anymore, in a planet-wide April Fool’s joke. Perhaps it’s just scientists’ way of reminding us that time is relative? Luckily, the EU is about to get rid of that nasty habit but until then I still cringe because now I literally have to get up at 4 am. I am a morning person but there are limits and I feel sorry for my global, virtual team because now they have to handle my bad mood all day long.

They know me well, so they probably just think “Oh, another one of her dramas”…

We have become accustomed to drama everywhere and we are used to arguing in meetings for the sake of positioning ourselves. Sometimes you just want to win over the other person’s view. It’s about who is better than the other. On the surface.

What is this argument really about?

Have you ever considered that you jump into an argument easily not because you want to move forward the team and “think further and outside the box” but just because you like power? Have you considered that you are worried about losing power when you treat your team members with respect and listen to them instead of thinking that you know best of all?

I revisited the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”  by Stephen Covey through this video recently. I was lucky to “win” access to one of Stephen’s talks around 13 years ago in Frankfurt. I was very impressed with him when he made a full concert hall of around 5000 managers stand up, close their eyes, turn around several times and then point towards “North”.

There were around 35 different options to show North.

If you want to become effective as a team you need to invest in the relationship level of the team members. You need to create the framework for a supportive atmosphere in which every team member feels valued and can share her view in a way that is appropriate to them.

You probably now wonder “Ok, I know that but it is easier said than done.” and as so often you are hoping for the quick fix, the recipe or the shortcut to global virtual team productivity.

May I take your delusions from you?

There are no shortcuts in life. Someone will always suffer if you try the quick fixes, the formula or the recipes that might work for others. You will first of all need to work on yourself. Once you are ready to be a “rounded” leader who can set aside ego and nurture a team then you can read the six tough steps to start working more effectively in global, virtual teams.

1) Confront your fears and find a place of self-awareness within you

That is the hardest part of self-development. Often our ego is strong and demands that we nurture it daily. It is like the flesh-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”. The ego needs fodder. We have built ways of showing to ourselves that we are worthy. It could be the new certificate that you have to attain, the endorsements on LinkedIn or the positive feedback you expect in your performance reviews and your 360-evaluation. You behavior is driven by optimizing your evaluation, turnover and other Key Performance Indicators. Learn to be self-sufficient without depending on numbers that prove you are a superhero!

2) Identify the formal roles and responsibilities of your team members

While every team needs formal roles and responsibilities most conflicts occur at the handover points. In a fully functioning and high performing team everyone also supports the other team member when they sense that the other team member is overloaded or when they feel that they have the capacity. The more dispersed and virtual the team works, the harder it is to see how much capacity everyone has.

It is your job as the leader to identify the gaps and to build a feedback loop where team members can openly communicate when they feel overloaded or when they do not have enough challenging work. You probably understand that every team member needs a healthy mix of challenges and routine tasks in order to be satisfied at work.

3) Unmask the informal roles of your team members

In your team you will find informal roles too. In a flatter hierarchy you might have an opinion leader who does not necessarily agree with you. You might find this team member challenging but this team member could be your greatest ally and supporter if you understood how this person needs to be inspired

Maybe they need more encouragement, maybe they need more brainstorming  or maybe they need more structure. You need to learn to read your team members and the informal roles they play and then adapt your style accordingly.

4) Find out the areas of support for the team members

In my management and coaching experience I learned that every human being  has needs. It sometimes took me up to two years to drive a team to high performance and great collaboration. When you understand the learning steps the team member has to go through to get to the next level you will also understand how you can lead this person to success.

Instead of asking them to work on projects that are way out of their capabilities you can give them small success experiences so they can grow in small steps and keep their self-confidence in tact. I have seen many good team members in other teams who were crushed and did not believe in their competencies anymore because their manager was overconfident or micro-managing them.

5) Ensure every team member has a voice

In any intercultural team but also monocultural team you will have more introverted team members. They will not always speak up in meetings and voice their opinions. Others might just feel it is not worth to discuss further and shut up. You can use various tools and methods to give your quieter team members a voice.

It also helps if you ask a neutral facilitator to support your annual kick-off meetings or other team building exercises. You might not see yourself how you hinder certain team members from voicing their opinion.

6) Be aware of your limiting assumptions

When a team member is very engaged but not necessarily of the same view as you are it could be a good point to consider. You might assume that the team member is less qualified or experienced than you are and as a result, you might not take her seriously.

You could also be biased against team members who behave like yourself or have similar preferences in working style. This is what we reveal in coaching sessions. In my experience, this process is easier when you work with me through this transition phase as you might have cultural and other blindspots that hinder you from fast progress.

These are six tough ways to improve your collaboration in global virtual teams.

Let’s have a conversation about your current global leader and team performance goals. You can also discuss your expatriate career topics with me. Pick my brain by claiming your RockMeRetreat*** Goal Setting Session (with Code: RMR19)

 

In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to introduce you to seven way of being more effective in intercultural communication. We have covered principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in previous posts. Principle 7 is called
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I speak slow and use simple language.

English is a global language. However, if we are speaking as non-native speakers to other non-native speakers there could be a lot of misunderstanding. Even if English native speakers with different accents speak to each other there are miscommunications. In order to become more effective across cultures it is important to speak slow and use simple language. There is no point in showing off your rich, academic vocabulary or your eloquence in inventing words if no one understands you. You can use your eloquence in communication addressed to native speakers but even then you want to be understood. Check in with your counterparts and make sure that your language is appropriate.

 

In this series we introduce you to the seven principles for intercultural effectiveness. You have been informed about Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in earlier posts. Principle 6 is12736872_1059869644055644_866549060_o

“I listen to my heart.”

In case of doubt I listen to my heart. Often in intercultural interactions it is hard to understand with the mind what is really going on. If you learn to listen to your heart though, you might see further and clearer. You will feel a deeper connection with people no matter what cultural background they have and no matter what their values are.

A good practice to open your heart is the active meditation by Osho. Alternatively, you could help others every day without expecting anything back.