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“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Mentors represent knowledge, reflection, insight, and wisdom. They offer understanding, compassion, strategy, and good advice. They engender trust, issue challenges, provide encouragement, and offer positive reinforcement. It is the Extreme Global Leaders responsibility to mentor those brilliant mavericks that global business attracts – those individuals defined as willfully independent and dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. They challenge the common practices of global business – business they see as ready for change and renewal. Mavericks continually raise uncomfortable questions that challenge the status quo, inspiring us to go wider and deeper – not to hide from the reality of the ever-evolving global marketplace.  Mavericks consistently inquire into how they can do something radically different. They want to think about the next big idea and make it happen. Mavericks want to make a difference, discover how to re-create and re-energize their team, division, organization, and their world.  They are Extreme Leaders in the making – you want Mavericks, indeed, you NEED them.

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We all know that a keen comprehension of organizational politics is absolutely essential for leadership to maneuver the company towards its’ goals. Leaders use political leverage to promote their organizational interests, as well as personal interests occasionally. As an Extreme Global Leader you know that in order to realize a game-changing future, you will need more than just a great gameplan – you must master the political chessboard. A critical component to organizational success is sponsorship and stakeholder engagement. If a leader engages support from above, laterally, and below, s/he is likely to succeed. This equates to political influence – and to influence others requires building relationships of trust and persuading others to follow. That is what politics is about.

Leaders need to quickly identify those likely to support them and build strong coalitions aligning individual needs with organizational goals, in such a way that fulfillment of collective goals results in automatic fulfillment of individual needs at the same time. Leaders must realize that organizational politics is a function of culture, as well as an indication of trust levels in the organization, and will always serve both individual and organizational agendas.

In order to master the political chessboard, Extreme Global Leaders need to take a strategic approach to politics and should employ the following, as appropriate:

  1. Spend time with opponents: Most of us spend time with our allies, who we trust and who agree with us… when the people we have the most to learn from are our opponents.
  2. Never take anything personally: If it is not personal it is far easier to maintain focus on what we are trying to achieve. It is our choice whether or not we will personalize things that happen.
  3. Constantly reframe: It is natural to assume that it is “all about us” – the alternative is to recognize that much of politics is about people working to get things done within a diverse community of interests.
  4. Leverage the power dynamic: Recognize that power can come in several forms: legitimate, referent, reward, expert, and coercive power. Much of politics is based on power – who’s got it and how you can use it to your advantage.
  5. Build on mutually beneficial interlocking relationships: The better you are at networking, the better you will be at organizational politics.
  6. Focus on interests, not positions: In the interest of finding common ground, care about people’s interests and ask more questions. Why is this person interested in …? What is s/he trying to achieve? How can you help?How do interests align?

Leaders need to inspire people to act by creating clarity and unity of purpose and build synergies through organizational values. We can leverage political skills to manipulate others… or to influence them to achieve more than they ever thought possible – which one will accomplish more and move the organization forward faster?

Have you mastered the political chessboard?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

The past couple of weeks I have been doing a considerable amount of thinking around the value of networking. Last week I was in Boston with Robert Hargrove and we spoke extensively about the value of networking to the Extreme Global Leader and how life in the global economy has changed us. This week I am at the SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research) conference, and guess what? Still thinking about networking and how it has changed as we now commonly work across boundaries and borders.

Here are some fundamental insights and observations:

  1. The “new” economy was yesterday. You have to keep your playbook flexible because no one knows the audible that will be called next. Business cycles do exactly that – cycle, unpredictably. Your current teammates may or may not be on your team moving forward. If you need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or the means to make an important deal, there is only one definite way to succeed – through your extended network of friends and colleagues across boundaries and borders.
  2. Job security is also a relic of the past (similar to your throwback jersey) and your superior talent and experience will not save you in hard times. The day may come when the Head Coach tells you that you have been traded, or worse, released as a free agent!  Tough day…guaranteed.  However, if that day should come, having a strong network to fall back on can make your life a whole lot easier – a few phone calls and you could be walking onto the playing field with a whole new Extreme Team.
  3. There is no need to even the scoreboard when contemplating your network. Networking is not about what someone else can do for you, but really about how you can serve your extended team. The bottom line: It is far better to give than to receive – NEVER keep score and NEVER deny a potentially game altering assist. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, the rewards will follow.
  4. Global business is a fluid, competitive playing field. Yesterday’s team-mate is tomorrow’s competitor; tomorrow’s competitor may well be your team’s owner next season. Building a strong network outside of the impermeable walls of your organization is vital. Take the time, expand your horizons, and build your network from every conceivable direction – it is a critical part of that flexible play book.
  5. You are brand “YOU” – if you are not networking, you can bet no one knows you. No more are you the sum of your organizations brand, where your value as a member of the team was linked to your loyalty and seniority. Professional sports teams use branding to grow strong, enduring relationships with fans, not to mention to generate revenue. In today’s fluid, global playing field, you must do the same with your network. Your relationships and your reputation are the most explicit illustrations of who you are and what you have to offer as an extreme player on the field. If no one knows what you bring to the game, you can not be mobilized as a game-changing contributor.
  6. Contribute continually – it is like (legal) steroids for networks. The more you give your time, money, and expertise (with no stipulations or reservations) to your network, the more opportunity you have to be recognized as the MVP you are.

The greatest way you can repay your mentors, coaches, and other valuable teammates in your network is to continue the tradition of giving to your extended network and to continue to expand your network – it is a legacy that will continue to give and grow, and may eventually provide you with a place in the elusive Extreme Leader Hall of Fame.

Challenge: What are YOU doing to initiate an Extreme Network this week?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation in the ongoing discussions of Extreme Leaders Across Boundaries & Borders.

Last week I discussed your commitment as an Extreme Global Leader and challenged you to build an Extreme Team, not just dream about having one. This week I am going to challenge you further –    to focus in on the development of four critical dimensions that your Extreme Team must have: 1) the ability to think insightfully about complex issues as a group; 2) innovative, coordinated action; 3) a significant impact on other teams; 4) strong coaching and adequate practice time.

There is a real and present need for global teams to think insightfully, and creatively, about complex issues. I was recently speaking with Robert Hargrove, one of the most prominent CEO Coaches in the world, and we were discussing how organizations had changed in the past 20 years. One key component to our conversation was teams and how complex success in organizations had become. It is no longer enough for a leader to present a business case to his boss or lobby the Board of Directors for funding for a large project with no accountability to deliver – S/he must have a team that can drive Extreme Results. This requires the team to be insightful and innovative enough to look at possibilities from every angle, leveraging the expertise and excellence of every team member in order to explore and exploit every opportunity. Teams must learn how to tap the potential of many minds so that the sum of the whole is more intelligent than a single intellect. This is an obvious deduction to make, however there are significant, less evolved, forces at work in organizations that are eager to make the collective intelligence of the team “less than”, rather than “greater than”, the intelligence of the individual – you will always have competitors with alternative interests.

Innovative, coordinated action on the part of a team, much less an organization, has the potential to be the equivalent of winning the Gold at the X Games. Championship sports teams provide excellent metaphors for acting in spontaneous, yet coordinated, ways. Extreme Teams in organizations develop the same dynamic – “operational trust” is the “X” factor –  a condition where each player remains conscious of the other team members and can be counted on to act in such a way to enhance the overall outcome.

Also critical, is the role of your Extreme Team players on other teams. The reality is that a great deal of the time, actions of senior teams are actually carried out through other teams. As such, Extreme Teams have the capability to continually cultivate ongoing learning through their involvement on other teams. If the individual player can understand and embrace the complexity of the Extreme Team, they have the ability to transfer the learning in such a way that it permeates through to additional teams they are involved with – creating a coalition of Extreme Teams throughout the organization.

Extreme Team learning is above all else, a collective discipline that requires ongoing practice and Extreme Coaching. Unfortunately, teams in organizations today often lack the extreme leadership of a value-add coach, as well as the opportunity to move between the practice field and the playing field. Imagine a championship sports team with no Head Coach and without the ability to practice. There is little likelihood the team will get to the final game in the World Cup if they are out there playing together for the first time, with no ability to align themselves, correct misperceptions and mistakes, and respond to insightful and knowledgeable coaching.  The reality is that the mechanism used to create winning teams is the ability to learn together and leverage the collective intellect. The ability to win the big game requires continual movement between the practice field and the playing field, as well as an Extreme Coach that will facilitate Extreme Team advancement to the Big Game. There is little opportunity for this team to emerge without a balance between strong coaching, practice, and leveraged play time.

Challenge: What are YOU going to do to facilitate and leverage EXTREME TEAMS in your organization?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Across Boundaries & Borders.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been discussing the virtues of Extreme Leaders. However, the truth is that we cannot be Extreme Leaders on our own – in most instances we depend on people to facilitate the achievement of our goals. As you strive to become an Extreme Leader, you will come to realize (if you haven’t already) that your people will determine whether or not you win at the great game of business. The question then becomes: Are you going to dream of what it would be like to have a team that works well together, executes across boundaries & borders, and produces Extreme Results OR are you going to build an Extreme Team that does all of that and more?

You can attempt to build your Extreme Team by design and by talent, but you will likely fail. You may put together a team of specialists, but that will not create what you need to win. Performance depends on both individual excellence and on how well the team works together. It is not friendship that creates an Extreme Team – it is a different kind of team relationship. It is a concept known as “alignment” – when a group of people understand the unique value of each player and leverage that value to function as a cohesive whole. In most teams the energies of the individual players work at cross purposes – the fundamental characteristic being wasted energy. Everyone may work exceptionally hard, but the efforts do not translate to an Extreme Team delivering extreme results.

In contrast, when a team becomes aligned, a commonality of direction emerges, and individual efforts synchronize with the whole. Synergy evolves – there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and an inherent understanding of how to leverage one another’s talents. The individual player does not sacrifice his/her personal desire to score to the larger team vision; rather the shared vision becomes an extension of the personal vision.  Alignment is a necessary component in building your Extreme Team – empowering the team will empower the individual players.

Extreme Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacity of the team to create the winning results the team strives for. It builds on the discipline of developing shared vision. It also builds on personal mastery: talented teams are made up of talented individuals. But the bottom line is that shared vision and talent are not enough to create an Extreme Team. The world is full of talented teams who share a vision for awhile, yet they fail to learn and grow together and ultimately fail to win. Extreme sports team champions have talent and a shared vision, but what really matters is that the team knows how to play together – Extreme Teams in organizations are no different.

There has never been a greater need for the development of Extreme Teams in organizations than there is today. Almost all important decisions are now made in teams –  directly or through the need for teams to translate individual decisions into organizational actions. If Extreme Teams are developed with focus and intent on learning to excel as a cohesive unit, organizational insights are gained that can be translated into extreme results. Skills are developed that can propagate and motivate other teams to be extreme. Most of all, the Extreme Team’s  accomplishments can set the tone  and establish a standard of excellence for the larger organization. So, what will it be? Dream Team or Extreme Team?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Across Boundaries & Borders.

Globalization and rapidly changing technology continue to sweep the world. Organizations working across international and cultural boundaries face significant challenges as they seek to reach and maintain market leadership – however, inherent in those challenges are often unrealized opportunities. One such opportunity, Multicultural teams, offers a wealth of leverage to the discerning global leader. Our research repeatedly identifies the following advantages when multicultural teams are leveraged effectively:

–       Global economies of scale and scope are realized

–       Effective global learning & knowledge transfer takes place

–       Global strategic capabilities are enhanced

–       More innovative products and services are developed

–       Better understanding of customers across multiple geographies is achieved

–       Strong cultural intelligence fostering competitive advantage is accomplished

In today’s complex global marketplace, success depends on a company’s ability to work effectively across different geographical locations and cultures in order to drive innovation and capture market share. Leaders must go beyond motivating people from very different cultural backgrounds, experiences and leadership styles – they must create an environment that facilitates multicultural teams to collaborate effectively across boundaries and borders. There is simply no better better way to understand and strategically exploit the global marketplace.

The truth is that most organizations under-utilize their multicultural teams as strategic assets. When properly developed, such teams contribute significantly to the growth and success of the organization and to its bottom line. In fact, multicultural teams are one of the most consistent sources of competitive advantage for any organization who deploys them – they are effectively the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace.

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