1. Who are you as a leader?
2. What is your legacy?
3. What is your impact?
No matter if you lead in Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, New York, Buenos Aires or Sydney, these are critical questions to answer if you want to make a difference as a leader and stand for something.
Paul N. Larsen, author of Find Your Voice as a Leader, raises the important questions above. I asked Paul to contribute to this month's blog series where we talk with experts about best practices in leadership.
Paul goes on to say, "We are all governed by a set of values that act as our 'inner GPS'. Our values govern our decisions, our judgments, our communication and our overall worldview. They shape who we are. Leaders who identify their core set of values and lead out front with their values are more confident, more courageous and more influential versus leaders who do not."
The question I would add is, "Can we standardize a set of values to operate by globally?" At first glance, most would say we can. Why not? Several companies like LinkedIn, BMW, and Starbucks do. But have their employees and customers truly bought into the leadership culture and the values they espouse?
One thing to consider is that diverse cultures hold diverse values - or, at least, values are prioritized differently across cultures.
For example, if friendliness is important in Brazil, that may conflict with and take priority over punctuality. I will make sure to take time to say hello and find out how you are. When running to a meeting, most Germans would rather schedule a time to catch up with you than stop in the hallway to chat and risk being late. However, that doesn't mean that Germans aren't friendly or Brazilians aren't punctual, it just plays out differently.
And it is these "differences", no matter how slight or significant, Paul says, that can get teams and organizations "stuck" and unable to move ahead until there is common alignment around "what is important to us."
When leading across country locations and cultures, a leader needs to be aware, knowledgeable and skilled at interpreting and setting guidelines around company or team values.
Here are three ways to do that:
1. Have conversations with individual team members and discover what they care about.
2. Look to the local environment where the company is operating and pay attention to interactions with the community.
3. Create a team effort around setting values and don't worry if you can create absolute standards worldwide. Make them relevant locally.
Influential and successful global leaders know what their values are--but they also know what their team's values are--and lead within those sets.