What is leadership?

According to HBR “… Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others.” What role does culture play when it comes to influencing and inspiring others?

Please click for a short recording by George Simons, IOR Senior Intercultural Trainer based in France.

The global pandemic has given leaders a unique opportunity to re-examine their messages and the ways they communicate to make sure that their stories align with deeply felt needs of their teams.

Today, global leaders need to embody the following characteristics:

  • Self-awareness of their own style
  • Knowledge of their audience and its cultural environment
  • Show their own vulnerabilities to build trust and connections
  • Exhibit versatility in communication skills
  • Dispel fears by sharing facts, clearly communicating objectives and giving practical advice
  • Show empathy and humility

Successful leaders are masters of cultural code-switching.

When working with colleagues from South America, South-East Asia or the Middle East, their stories change to include personal experiences and allow extra time to give others a chance to share their worries and aspirations. They organize informal individual meetings, create role-plays and use such tech features as chat, whiteboard and breakout rooms to bypass the hierarchy lines, seek feedback and promote engagement. They offer clear but flexible solutions to account for ever changing environments.

Engaging with colleagues from North America, Scandinavia, or Australia, global leaders infuse their stories with quick personal anecdotes to create more openness, provide clear actionable items to discuss and follow, create venues for brainstorming and open feedback. They identify and leverage talent among their teams by providing guidance and mentorship and lead by example.

Cultural code-switching begins with knowing yourself and being aware of how your leadership style is influenced by your own culture. To learn more about the tools and resources available to facilitate development of the global leadership skills please stay tuned for Part 2 of the Culture on the Go series coming soon or contact IOR.