Battling your foreign teams?

Picture of Anna Letitia Cook
Anna Letitia Cook

Energising International Executives for more successful, productive, fulfilling leadership
International Executive and Holistic Success Coach | Author | Podcast Presenter | 30+ years working internationally

My client was promoted to lead 2 countries on another content. Nice guy,  competent… BUT a total fish out of water. ⬇

“Maybe it’s you that’s wrong!” I said to him, at our first meeting. He took the comment like a trooper and showed his calibre by thinking about this and giving me examples of difficult situations he was facing.

By analysing and trying to think from outside his usual viewpoint and way of thinking he saw how he could be coming across as desperate or arrogant (which he definitely isn’t, by the way).

He wanted to get the job done well, with his managers and their teams all in a positive spirit of cooperation. He understood rapidly that 𝗶𝗳 𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗲𝗱 he had to see the differences, create a better approach and always be ready to adapt.

The key problems he had were:

➡️ – He was coming across as a micromanager, and arrogant, because his own country follows a more directive and detailed instruction-giving way of working. The new country found this demeaning and showing a lack of trust.

➡️ – He was organising meetings to discuss, debate and explain almost everything which in his thoughts was being nice and helping them, showing them support. In their view this was boring, unnecessary and wasting time as well as not letting them show any initiative.

➡️ – The managers and teams were already disenchanted by the previous leader (sent in from another country and, you guessed it, failed!) who had changed everything without even trying to understand the most basic differences.

Too many ‘foreign’ CEOs hit this wall of incomprehension and misunderstanding because they use their ‘old’ way of thinking; BUT you need to clear your mind, see their vision, their values, their ways and adapt… 

✅ My client is perceptive and, in my opinion, an excellent leader who has quickly understood this.  He follows the tenet: Work together, understand together and create a real team.

❓ What would you do in a similar situation?

❓ What confusion have you seen purely from a lack of knowledge of each other’s culture?

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