“The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential…the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individuals persons.” – Max Dupree
To lead teams in multiple locations takes open-mindedness and clear goals. Leaders who can maintain a fresh view on life and the world are the best people for this type of assignment. The ability to lead teams across multi-locations and/or the world requires the following:
Commit to Connect, A Lot
Because of different time zones and cultures, it requires patience, resiliency, and ingenuity to find places, times, and ways to connect. The teams that thrive across the world are the ones who commit to consistent connection as a team and as individuals. Face-to-face is always best, followed by meeting via Zoom, and the phone is the option if the other two are not possible. All the other electronic mediums are weak tools for building real connections.
“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself/herself and her/his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” – Norman Shidle
Focus on how to make things work by asking questions such as, “I wonder if there is a better way…” or, “Could we explore….”, which are the right beginnings to finding new solutions. Finding solutions are not a straight path, it takes being comfortable in ambiguity or conflict until an answer that meets the needs of the many appears. The ability to stay engaged with others during ambiguity or conflict is critical to building a team and good solutions.
“Conflict is inevitable in a team … in fact, to achieve synergistic solutions, a variety of ideas and approaches are needed. These are the ingredients for conflict.” – Susan Gerke
There is no way to work around conflict and it happens even more in a multi-location and multi-cultural company. Those who work in these environments must sense conflict and learn to work with it. Ignoring conflict or using it for your benefit will harm the team and its success.
“Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ’em to play together is the hard part.” – Casey Stengel
Commit to keeping the team in the loop on the long-term vision and goals regularly (even when it does not seem big to you, it is important to all). Make time for team-building activities (taking the time to bond strengthens short and long-term performance, every time). Engage and involve the team in designing new solutions or changes for the company. Encourage and expect personal contact and communication among all members and have quarterly meetings to bring the players together in one room.
Leading a world-wide team is not for the faint-hearted or the arrogant. The type of leader who excels at this is flexible, open-minded, goal-oriented, intelligent, solution-oriented, non-judgmental, opportunistic, aware, engaged, and invigorated in the face of ambiguity and conflict.
“Real teams don’t emerge unless individuals on them take risks involving conflict, trust, interdependence and hard work.” – Katzenbach & Smith
If you are a leader who is looking to grow and learn, I encourage you to join others on this new frontier of global leadership and find yourself changed and honed to a new level of leadership.
“You can’t change others, you can change yourself, and when you change yourself…you change the world.”
Take the Challenge,