The pioneers of tend spotting, our savvy group of bloggers struck gold again when Harvard Business Review featured it’s cult special edition publication of On Point – this time with a 136 page spread featuring everything you could conceivably want or need to know about sparked incline in global entrepreneurship. Back in October 2012, our guest blogger Zilicus had already surveyed the business horizon and identified this niche new business feature with several exclusive posts on leadership that drives global competition. Zilicus saw that “economies today are integrated far more than they were even ten years ago, and the impact of cultural, social or economic changes in other countries can affect your business locally,” arriving on the conclusion that “to shield your business from losses and to take advantage of expanding opportunities, your business needs to embrace global leadership.”
In the On Point issue, Howard M. Guttman introduces the art of managing global teams with his piece entitled, “Are Your Global Team Members Miles Apart?” Premising sound advice with an understanding that global team managers have a different set of challenges, identifying borders, time zones, cultures, talent and even temperaments as some of them, Guttman springs forward offering globetrotting, or even remote global teams, three pivotal points for consideration.
The first of these is goal alignment. It may seem like divisional teams are on board, but unless specifics are clearly communicated, your company could suffer the fate of the one Guttman utilizes in an anecdote. Underscoring both communication and vision mismatch in a case where North American and European teams agreed upon a world-wide strategy but failed to get the European team on board in totality, Guttman shares the how “product development and marketing plans that emerged differed considerably, taking the company in two different directions.” The takeaway here is that the “appearance of agreement doesn’t equal agreement.” Drawing from his consulting background, he offers teams a series of questions as a checklist to make sure an agreement isn’t just an abstract idea, but rather a direction that will yield favorable results. In the anecdote above, not securing concrete a new direction resulted in a depleted new product pipeline within 18 months.
Guttman also stresses aligning roles and responsibilities that will otherwise naturally overlap and result in conflict. He presents the case of a regional manager conflicted against a global manager since the former feels he’s closer to the target/regional marketing than the latter; however, the latter has a better scope of a global strategy. Naturally entering his third point, Guttman segues into this third point – aligning decision-making protocols. He argues, “there is often major confusion among team members regarding [decision-making], resulting [in] bottlenecks…” for which the solution is to “develop and agree on rules of engagement for decision making.”
Our own guest blogger, Zilicus, adds weight to Guttman’s recommendations by encouraging a sort of cross-pollination among teams. It’s not enough to have various branches set up. It’s important to integrate them. Zilicus recommends setting up global teams by integrating workforces from diverse academic, social, and cultural backgrounds. Citing General Electric as an example of spear-heading this policy, Zilicus argues that “cross-border transfers are necessary for global leaders to learn, infuse, integrate and finally lead.” On the note of leaders, they point out that a plethora of teams across territories will inevitably result in varying leadership styles. Pointing out six types of leaders, they conclude that navigating leadership styles is necessary to get the most out of a diverse workforce – a point nearly all current articles on global leadership have failed to highlight.
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