WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL PROFILE?

I have been reading and re-reading a host of intercultural books and articles over the last month. My favourite is a new book that I read a few weeks ago; Managing Across Cultures: The 7 Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset. It isn’t a book that provides specific insight into each culture/country as Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries does. It is an academic read which focuses on a self assessment across 7 elements and how they will affect you as you work with teammates from other cultures.

The 7 elements are quite straight forward and provide excellent insight through a questionnaire that creates your personal cultural profile. Or you can opt to join their website (which I am trialing) and automate the process.

Below is my personal cultural style compared to the ‘Canadian’ norm; suggesting that I am more ‘group’ orientated than the average Canadian who is highly individualistic, more interpersonal in relationships than the average Canadian, more fluid with time where the average Canadian really focuses on controlling time and a little less formal (I do have a very liberal ‘open door policy’ at work and when called “Mr. Weening” will respond “please call me Michael, “Mr.” is my father”).

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The below is my profile versus the Canadian and the UK cultural profile. I wish I would have had this at my fingertips 5 years ago as I contemplated entering the UK culture. I would have thought deeply about how my personal cultural style of communication, hierarchy,  control (Whether you view your destiny as on your control or one that is controlled by external factors – call it a measure of self-determinism) and formality differed from the UK norms.

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A fantastic book that I would suggest to anyone who is contemplating working abroad and a tool that I will leverage as I work with cross cultural teams. Their website is even more fascinating as it has in-depth analysis of each country/culture, country ‘pocket guides’ and provides the ability for you to profile out your team (and different country members) so that each person can understand how they differ from their teammates.

Highly recommended.

APPLICABLE TO LEADERS/MANAGERS

 

The HBR article Selling is Not About Relationships (title misleading) categorizes sales people into 5 buckets:

    • Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet customers’ every need, and work hard to resolve tensions in the commercial relationship.
    • Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They’ll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team.
    • Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
    • Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the customers’ standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
    • Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — with both their customers and bosses.

In their analysis, they state that Challengers far outperform others, with Relationship Builders coming in dead last. Not that relationships are unimportant, their point is that the type of relationship is what is important. Challengers push the relationship, to make it better while Relationship Builders focus only on reducing tension.

This made me stop and think: How does this apply to management/leadership? I have often debated the merits of sales people transitioning from sales to management – where they can leverage their relationship skills. What this made me realize is that it is is more than that, the ability to build relationships is important but success will hinge on what type of a person they are. Consider the same definitions applied to management/leadership with a few key words edited (i.e. customer changed to organization):

    • Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet everyone’s needs, and work hard to resolve tensions in the internal relationships. (Add: Infrequently progress from manager to leader as they are the keeper of the status quo).
    • Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They’ll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team. (Add: It is naïve to think that you do not have to work hard to be successful. You do. But the person who thinks that hard work is enough stay managers. They are great ‘do-ers’.)
    • Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the organization who do things their way or not at all. (Add: Often burn bridges and have difficulty moving from manager to leader as they are not a team player. After all, people follow those they trust)
    • Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the organization’s standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on follow-up, ensuring that issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly. (Add: Great reporting to a leader)
    • Challengers use their deep understanding of the business to push their thinking and take control of the conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — within the organization. (Add: Can build, communicate and execute a vision … in other words, can lead).

As with the sales profiles, I would suggest that the Challenger will outpace the others as they are willing to paint a vision of the future, push boundaries, take risks, face big issues and execute – with relationships, problem solving and hard working contributing to that success.

10 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM XEROX

 

While in a Queen’s course on strategy and change management a few weeks ago they played a video from MIT where Anne Mulcahy of Xerox shared her ‘Leadership Lessons from the Firing Line’.

She walks through her introduction to the CEO position while Xerox was under siege with the future of the company in the balance. One of her first stories being a desperate attempt to get Warren Buffet to go back on his famous ‘I don’t invest in technology companies’ philosophy and invest in Xerox. He didn’t change his mind, but he did invite her for dinner and he gave a great piece of advice:

Focus on your customers and lead your employees like their lives depend on it”

Mrs. Mulcahy then goes on to discuss her experience during the Xerox turnaround and the leadership lessons that defined her tenure. The highlights from my notes:

· Good leaders listen, with a bias for action.

· Trust your management instincts. Companies love data, but sometimes you must trust your experience and gut.

· Create clear accountability and good aligned goals to guide the organization.

· People need a vision. Even though Rome was burning, people wanted to know the future. Her team wrote out an article of what Xerox would look like in 5 years, which built optimism.

· Invest for the best of times, even at the worst of times. Critics wanted Xerox to cut R&D, but they didn’t. Now 2/3rds of revenue comes from products that are less than 2 years old.

· Keep communicating, don’t go underground. Nothing beats face to face communications, aligns people to the goals and do not go underground.

· Remain customer focused. Spend time with customers, and continually ask ‘Would the customer pay for this?’

· Seek out the critics and look for critical feedback. Search it out, it is a blessing to find issues early on.

· Find the best talent. Hire people who are different, who have skills and views that are different then leverage those people to educate you.

· Lead by example, give credit to others and be humble.

An inspiring leader with a great story. Well worth the 30 minute investment to watch.

REORGANIZATION

Shared by a friend, and I had to laugh (check the date):

“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”

Gaius Petronius Arbiter, 210 BC

Unfortunately, it was not from 210. The quote is from Charlton Ogburn Jr (1911-1998), in Harper’s Magazine, “Merrill’s Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure”

Still, an interesting quote. And of course, a great reinforcement … busy work is just busy work .. it doesn’t mean that anything is being accomplished.

PETER DRUCKERISM (archive)

“You must manage as if you need your employees more than they need you.”

Interesting quote.

MOTIVATION ADVICE. (from the archive)

An executive gave me a great piece of advice the other day, and I think this applies to sales managers and to sales people (actually – employees in general):

When he first started into management – his biggest shock was that not everyone is motivated in the same way. He was motivated by wanting to move up and to take on bigger challenges. But many of his people, who were solid performers, did not want the same thing. Many of his people were happy with their life the way it was, they did not need a promotion, they did not need a change in job role or a big challenging project – they were happy. What motivates people is often different – some people want to climb the corporate ladder, some people are motivated by money, others by family, charity, church and their life outside the office. And that is alright.

Diversity should be cherished. To be effective in sales or management, I believe that you really need to understand what motivates people, and understanding that everyone is different should always be at the forefront of one’s mind.

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