The days of going to a new country and making everyone follow your style, your rules and your dictates has drawn to a close. Why? Because productivity is the key to success for the modern expatriate manager – and its success is directly linked to how you are perceived and respected by your team.
People want to feel connected to their leader, and be part of the decision-making process. If you can build relationships on this basis, as a foreigner in someone else’s country, you will reap the benefits for months and possibly years to come. Here are some suggestions for you to accomplish this.
Ask open-ended questions and listen through the surface.
Begin by talking to each person in a semi-casual setting and then in a more formal setting (your office) and find out their talents, aspirations, professional interests and where they would like to go in the organization.
Show a genuine interest in the country and culture that you are working in.
While retaining your own identity, find out about the interests of your colleagues and reports. Be inquisitive, without ever, ever being condescending. Always stand on equal footing with your host culture. Remember that everyone is just a different version of the same thing; a human being.
Try to be a resource.
If your managerial talents are specialized and you have gained much knowledge along the way, share it, discuss it and tell stories highlighting it. Bring others into your expertise without being egotistical. By sharing information in a relaxed and friendly setting you build credibility and interest in you and your ideas. Everyone can be interested in you and what you know. In a very natural way, you can be a liaison and a link to the world for your new colleagues.
Remember that if you become isolated and a loner because things are ‘different there’, you will miss the golden opportunity of becoming an international knowledge worker. So open up and you will have memories and experiences of a lifetime.
Finally: The percentage of unsuccessful expatriate managers is above 40% and there is no reason that it should be that high. Connect with your hosts and they will connect with you and your success.
by John Astor
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