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Shifting Paradigms

October 5, 2021 — 2 Comments

A great leader must be a great communicator… and more. Communication in a global context may mean communicating differently across boundaries and borders. Cross-cultural communications are complex – often difficult and easily misinterpreted or misunderstood if not skillfully navigated. The ability to successfully connect across cultures can be facilitated, not by trying to understand the many nuances of every culture, but by understanding that there are basic orientations (or perspectives) that, if understood on a continuum basis, can foster the potential for leaders everywhere to leverage cross-cultural communications for a new energy boost to high performance in an increasingly complex global environment.

It is well known that in order to accomplish career and organizational goals, a global leader must be able to influence in ways that are not only clearly understood, but resonate across many channels and geographies… in multiple ways.  This equates to not only having the capacity to communicate effectively, but also encompasses less obvious capabilities such as: 1) seeing and understanding alternative perspectives 2) comprehending culturally diverse values, beliefs and assumptions 3) integrating different cultural perspectives to create new solutions and 4) resolving conflicts in culturally appropriate, productive ways. In it’s entirety, this equates to cross-cultural competency.

The truth is that there are very few leaders or companies on this planet that truly embrace cultural differences and leverage them for global success on a personal and organizational level – yet cross-cultural communications are an invaluable lever to global success. Those of you who are managing across countries and regions and who are willing to get the best out of the rich melting pot of cultures that you navigate, have the ability to build virtual bridges between cultures and geographic locations, creating thriving teams and organizations, that will enable you to become a Game Changer vs. a Game Player through effective global and interpersonal communications.

Integrating cultural orientations into your communications will allow you to unleash exponentially more human potential to achieve meaningful objectives – you will be better equipped to extend personal and organizational worldviews, bridge cultural gaps, and make communications relevant to a geographically dispersed workforce that will enable impossible futures across boundaries and borders.

There is no viable way around it – your cultural orientations impact the way you communicate. As you begin to have the ability to understand your own cultural orientations and communicate effectively across alternative orientations, you will begin to have the ability to leverage cultural differences constructively and for the benefit of all, communicating efficiently and effectively across your global organization. This capacity is of the highest importance for success in an interconnected and increasingly global marketplace.

In the highly competitive global markets in which we all reside, the aim is to achieve concrete impact and tangible results that are enabled through maximum performance across all regions. Challenging cultural assumptions and looking at yourself and your entire extended network (including customers) through a different cultural lens, and communicating back through that lens, will propel you beyond your previous limitations to discover creative solutions that are outside of your proverbial box – leveraging cross-cultural differences to achieve business results well beyond anyone’s expectations.

Are you prepared to shift your paradigm for global success?

For the next several weeks, I will be discussing specific cultural orientations that will facilitate successful communications and business results.

Please contribute to the conversation and feel free to contact me at sherilmackey@gmail.com. Check back soon for the next installation on Global Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

This past week, I found myself in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. I went with the idea that I would relax and enjoy the long holiday weekend… and I did. However, as I observed a forest with both old and new growth, I also could not help notice the trees ravaged by sickness and fire. I found myself thinking about what the forest has to teach us about business…

The forest is a global entity made up of individual components with very different characteristics, yet at the same time each component is dependent upon the other.  In business, the term “Think Global/Act Local” was originally based on the idea of customizing standardized products and services for regional consumption in accordance with the local language, currency, culture and regulatory climate. The challenge arose as we lost sight of our interdependence as a global entity. Not surprisingly, localization encourages each country of operation to develop its own customized solutions and operational procedures. This results in data silos around the world and companies operating with huge information blind spots across the spectrum – the forest can not thrive as it should. It can take weeks, even months, to collect, reconcile, translate and analyze regional performance – much less consolidate a global view of the corporate picture. As I looked around and considered this, it occurred to me that if global is seeing the forest, then local is tending the trees. With only a view of the forest as a whole, it is possible to overlook the trees that need attention. Up close, it is easy to focus on the detailed care of each tree, but lose sight of its contribution to the overall forest. Balancing both viewpoints is critical to keeping the trees in the forest healthy. Global corporations are like a forest – a sum of its parts – consistent, meaningful and effective local practices must contribute to the success of the whole.

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A Happy New Year

December 30, 2020 — Leave a comment
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As the New Year approaches, I find myself reflecting on both the remarkable challenges and inherent opportunities that have presented themselves over this past year. It would be an outright untruth to say that 2020 hasn’t seriously tested us. However, while it has been extremely demanding of our hearts and our minds, that doesn’t mean we should overlook the truly good things that this year has brought us.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Winston Churchill

As I look back, 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for the entire world, but there were small blessings along the way that we should all appreciate:

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My Gift To You

December 23, 2020 — Leave a comment

Knowledge and experience are invaluable gifts .

Have you ever stopped to ponder what you have been given and how you can leverage it for the greatest good?  We acquire knowledge and experience on a daily basis as we go through life, but I have met very few people (and I do have a very large global network) that actually use what they know to maximize their potential. Whether it’s a natural talent or acquired knowledge, very few of us actually take the time to stop and consider how we can best utilize the “Gifts” we have been given.

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Organizations realize how important it is to “know what they know” and consistently try to maximize their collective intelligence – shouldn’t you? In a world where the only certainty is uncertainty, your only real source of sustainable competitive advantage is your own knowledge and experience – and how you leverage them. Your success in this increasingly competitive world depends wholly on how you qualitatively and effectively manage those gifts.

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The Amazing Race: Tokyo

December 16, 2020 — Leave a comment

Welcome back to The Amazing Race Series!

As those who have been reading this blog for awhile know, my passion is global business and I love to travel and interact with different people from different places.  Everywhere I go (and I have lived, worked or traveled to over 90 countries), I truly enjoy observing distinct cultures and taking away lessons learned from every place and every culture I interact with.  In fact, a good deal of my life’s work is based on this very concept.

I have frequently done business in Japan throughout my career, specifically Tokyo. It is interesting how the country and the culture have changed over time, but beneath its surface lies an extremely productive and effective society.

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To the outsider – or gaijin, as we are known to the locals – Japanese business customs appear to be so deeply entrenched in culture and tradition that they couldn’t possibly be applicable to the rest of the world. But don’t be too quick to write off the value that Japanese business practices offer the rest of the world…

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As those who have been reading this blog for a while know, my passion is global business. I love to travel and interact with different people from different places.  Everywhere I go (and I have lived, worked or traveled to over 90 countries), I truly enjoy observing distinct cultures and taking away lessons learned from each place and every culture I engage with.  In

Vienna

fact, a good deal of my life’s work is based on this very concept.

Recently, while attending Board Meetings in Vienna, I had the privilege of engaging with several colleagues – global executives and academic experts – to discuss some rather interesting views relating to the differences in business perspectives between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world.  It became interesting as the various views on doing business in different regions shifted… but today, Vienna:

Vienna is a beautiful city filled with exquisite buildings, powerful opera halls, sophisticated clothing and incredible art. The Viennese people themselves, without a doubt, embody “Culture” with a Capital C. From high art to street art, from music to theater, ballroom dance to interpretive movement, architecture to fashion – it’s all there…and it’s simply a way of life.

It is fascinating to find the city’s great landmarks are (literally) lived in, not just admired. While aesthetic and cultural traditions are highly respected, they have also grown and changed with the times. Just as Viennese youth still learn to waltz in preparation for Viennese Ball Season, moving in the same coordinated steps as the generations that came before, so too do they move through the city with a purpose that is determined to ensure Vienna becomes an economic powerhouse with unlimited business opportunities as they move into their future.

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