Business is increasingly becoming global. Data and mobility are impacting every industry known to man, including corporate travel. When you have a busy travel schedule, you never know who you might meet, what skills you might acquire or what new horizons await. The sky’s the limit!
Organisations are now going through a transformation in understanding how different cultures across the world can influence corporate travel trends, brand connect and leadership efficacy. On a recent business trip to Singapore, I met leaders & teams from various industries and cultures, that made me understand myriad of challenges and four cornerstones to successful leadership.
1) Virtual communication or better known as computer-mediated-communication (CMC) has become the norm for many organizations. As technology has evolved, time and distance barriers have dissolved, allowing for access to experts worldwide. Although virtual communication offers many advantages, it is not without challenges. While CMC increases globalization and the need for rapid knowledge transfer across borders and time zones at lower costs, it eliminates the non-verbal cues that can aid equal participation and understanding about one another’s background, skills, experiences and areas of expertise.When communicating face-to-face, the speaker can draw on visual cues from the others to gain quick, immediate feedback and make rapid adjustments as necessary, thereby building trust and credibility.
2) Imbibing a global mindset helps to differentiate between expatriates and global managers. Whereas expatriates are defined by location, global managers are defined by their state of mind and ability to work across boundaries. Thus, not all expatriates are global managers and not all global managers work internationally; the difference is the mindset and approach to problem-solving. By balancing contradictions, these managers are more capable of handling tensions arising from conflict. When dealing with ambiguity, they trust process rather than structure. They also value diversity to be channeled through teamwork and view change as an important opportunity rather than a threat. They are open to innovative strategies and are driven with a constant need to redefining boundaries.
3) Productive leaders are inclusive and avoid phrases like “Back home”.It should be deleted from the vocabulary, specially when you address international businesses. The audience simply doesn’t care what you do “back home”. You must convince them that your proposal applies to them, not to the market in your home country. In a worst-case scenario, you may come across as condescending, especially as a speaker from an industrial nation in an emerging market! This is one of the essential international business insight, which many tend to overlook. Religion and politics are often sensitive topics and as such they are taboo in international presentations, so don’t use them to illustrate a point or make a joke in an effort to create intellectual humour.
4) Undeniably, cross-cultural leadership is an important competency to be handling Global Virtual Teams (GVTs). Among other things, a conscientious cross-cultural leadership has responsibility to evoke trust, facilitate communication and encourage collaboration. Cross-cultural leaders are more constructive due to their flexibility in various situations and capacity to deal with paradox by performing contrasting leadership roles simultaneously. In all cultures, leader team orientation and the communication of vision, values and confidence in followers can be seen as a mark of cultural intelligence that enables them to recognize differences, adjust to new cultures and situations, understand local practices and behave appropriately and effectively. To be certain, cultural awareness and sensitivity are critical to have shared understanding and virtual team effectiveness.