Our executive coaching clients often tell us about their challenges in running a global or cross-border business. We hear comments like, It's hard for me to motivate people in other countries, I'm losing my confidence and motivation, I have no work-life balance, I'm not having enough impact on strategy, I'm constantly exhausted.
How often do we hear or read about successful people who realize, later in their career, that it’s the journey, not the destination that matters most? It rings true, as most cliches do. It is certainly true with me, especially in the second half of my life. I am removing the clutter and focusing on what matters most, with a sense of urgency.
Global roles are complex, unpredictable, and loaded with ambiguity. What do effective global executives do to master their environment and deliver results? Being hard-charging and smart come with the territory. But successful global executives know when to step back and cultivate their curiosity.
Do all successful leaders have charisma? The answer is yes, and it can be nourished — but let’s be clear about what we mean by charisma. We are not talking about over-the-top, larger-than-life sales-types who ooze charm for better or worse.
Many executives head to Asia in the hope that the experience they get working in rapidly growing and changing markets will give them a competitive advantage. That’s not a bad plan: Asia is a region that rewards fast learners.
With the vast amount of job-related advice available online and in print today, the best way to translate it into a thoughtful action plan is to put it in the context of the why of our career. This becomes increasingly important as we move up the ladder and consider our impact and legacy. Finding meaning in our career is a matter of listening to what life wants of us, not just what we want of life.
Studies show that global roles are different. Global executives experience far more complexity, flux, and ambiguity in their jobs than do domestic executives. They deal with a multiplicity of stakeholders across diverse cultures and boundaries. Intelligence alone doesn’t lead to success.
When we see a true career shift, we marvel at the executive's courage. In fact, most executives are not thinking in terms of courage. They want more out of their life and career. The key is having the self-awareness to know what you want and taking the bold steps to get it.
Leadership is visceral. It requires interaction and reaction, trial and error. Leaders touch their teams and push them forward. And they develop in their people the capacity to thrive in this new volatile and ambiguous world.
It would be a mistake to assume that KC needed to be someone he was not in order to succeed in his new role. That was KC's fear. Through coaching, he figured out how to use his strengths while learning new skills.
Building a sustainable pipeline doesn't just entail recruiting, training, and giving raises so your executives don't jump ship. Rather, it touches on building a strong culture of talent across the entire company which requires inspired leadership from the top.
Agility is not to be taken for granted: look at the recent experience of such iconic companies as Sony, Kodak, Panasonic, and, more recently, P&G--companies that had it, and are struggling to regain it. Agility is spread evenly, if thinly, around the world. Yet given the context of India’s rapid growth, top leaders in India can’t survive without it.
All expats are tempted to demonstrate value immediately, to be the hero they were hired to be. Yet many expats conclude their assignments having erected castles in the sand. It doesn’t take long for waves of change to wash their achievements away, even as they get promoted for their great work.
One multinational's regional president of Asia told me, "We have too many cooks in the kitchen willing to sharpen their knives. Managing up, in the midst of running my business, is the toughest part of my job."
Every step up the ladder has an opportunity cost: the road not taken. The conversation on “career changes” forces executives to ponder deeper questions relating to their basic motivations, aspirations, and dreams. What am I good at and why? What if I did follow my dreams? What are the consequences of not taking the big leap?
While careful not to minimize the importance of pay in China, I truly wonder whether paying at the 50 percentile or 75 percentile is going to make much of a difference in a country where managers routinely get 50% increases in pay to jump to a competitor.
He's the un-superman. I'm tempted to doom Tom with the 'effective manager' moniker, which isn't how we describe game-changers in this day and age. Most impressively, this leader, based in Asia and armed with natural charm, savvy, and empathy, altered the organization's orientation from a headquarters' sense of true north to an entirely new bearing, a place deep inside the Cinese consumer.