No matter where in the world you work, leadership challenges exist. One study gathered data from 763 participants in seven different countries and found that leaders face the same six challenges: managerial skills, employee development, team leadership, change management, inspiring others, and dealing with internal politics.
In my experience as a global executive coach, these six challenges are just some of the leadership traps that disable effective leaders, locally and globally.
Leadership disablers are success inhibitors. Basically, they are the actions, behaviors, and beliefs that you think are working but just don't jibe with those around you.
They're another version of leadership blind spots, which disable your communication, influence, competence, and confidence, and thus, your promotability. Although it's not easy to see them in yourself, they do negatively impact how decisions are made and how information is processed and distributed.
Forgetting to build an inclusive workforce that embraces cultural, regional, and gender differences, for example, is a major disabler...and not only for you. It also significantly affects your team and anyone working with you.
Consequently, the challenges of leading global teams are unique. While language can be a barrier, many others differences come into play with international teams working in an office and/or virtually.
The good news? You don't have to master all of these nuances or tailor your behavior to each specific person. You can avoid alienating people and communication breakdowns by steering clear of a few common disablers that span across all cultures.
As the leader of a team, especially a global one, it's your job to educate yourself and become aware of what gets in your way. Here are four common disablers to watch out for:
1. Playing favorites
Think about it: You know who you can rely on. They are known to consistently do quick, reliable, and excellent work. Because of their reliability, you give them the sweet projects because they will get the work done fast and well, and you don't need to provide a lot of oversight.
Basically, you're only building capability in one individual, not your team.
Your superstar, the golden child, often breeds tension or resentment. Then comes the day that causes you to question his or her capability, and your faith in your superstar falters. The favorites then find themselves outside of your inner circle, and you don't have another resource to rely upon, as you only invested in your superstar.
Distribute assignments equitably to build the capability across your entire team. Remember that people learn and apply their learnings differently. You must give them space, time, and focus to allow them to be successful.
2. Stating boundaries
Learn how to say no. Leaders who rise above this disabler understand that saying no effectively is one of the most valuable things you can do.
Saying no is a bit of an art form. It's not the word itself that is negative; it is how you say it that creates a negative impression.When saying no, explain the business reasons and provide an alternate solution. Make it clear that your "no" is to the request, not to the person who suggested it.
"No" creates clarity, boundaries, and understanding of limits.
3. Only focusing on the present
Though you have your daily work, a senior leader's job is to look up and out to link the present to the future. To make this link stick, focus on the top three things that are vital for that quarter, factor those into your decision-making matrix, and inform your team.
When shit happens (and it will), and chaos surrounds you, how do you remain stable? Go back to your top three things. This will anchor you and your team.
Jim McCann, founder and CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com, says he regularly checks his long-term ideas list to make sure the team stays on track. He takes these major things to his team and asks, "Do these projects still make sense?" And if they do, he prioritizes them so that they actually get done.
4. Not allowing for tension
People pleasers take the path of least resistance -- but great decisions are made when teams push, pull, and grind ideas together.
I work with one leader who's really fun and outgoing -- and it makes him come across as the team clown. He gets uncomfortable when conversations get tense, so he starts making jokes. He hates tension and wants people to get along, so he imposes this on his team. And, in doing so, he diminishes his credibility and reduces the sparks that tension creates to better integrated solutions.
Watch yourself in action to see whether you fall into any of these disabling behaviors. If you do, pivot your behavior to push your team to success, no matter where they are.