In the most recent series, we focused on cultural empathy and the vital role it plays when engaging with fellow teammates and co-workers. Having established the importance of cultivating cultural empathy in the workplace, the next Global Intelligence topics for us to explore are alignment and collaboration.
Alignment can mean various things, whether it is sharing a perspective or following the same path to achieve a goal. For our purposes, both definitions are applicable. Organizational alignment entails “agreement or cooperation among persons or groups with a common cause or viewpoint” in the workplace. As such it requires leadership and precise communication. It is the leader’s responsibility to unify the workforce around a common purpose — the company’s mission, vision, and values — and it is crucial that everyone have a clear understanding of these goals:
- Mission — encompasses the organization’s current purpose, basis of competition, and competitive advantage.
- Vision — evokes powerful and compelling mental images of a shared future.
- Values — a set of guiding principles and fundamental beliefs that help a group of people function together as a team and work toward a common business goal.
When not adequately expressed, these three company aspects can be confusing for employees as they are left to form their own understanding and opinions. But when there is clarity, an alignment is formed. Employees will more readily adapt to the culture of the company and support it in achieving its goals.
As global leaders, whether we are working internationally or with people from other cultures, it is important that we are sensitive to diverse customs and traditions. We need to have keen adaptability skills, open communication skills, and the willingness to embrace differences. It is our responsibility to transcend geography and dissimilar ways of life. Creating and maintaining unity in the organization is a key element in doing so successfully.
Once we have achieved alignment within our workforce — when employees have a clear understanding about company goals — we next need to focus on enhancing collaboration. By creating a task force model of branding and building horizontal bridges across departments, regions, and countries we make it possible for teams to work together more effectively. In most organizations, collaboration plays an essential role when working cross-functionally and even remotely. By improving teamwork, operations run smoothly and conflicts are reduced or even eliminated.
Having worked with brands internationally has shown me the importance of collaboration in order to achieve both local and global success. I’ve personally witnessed cultural differences causing difficulty with communication and as a result creating issues managing expectations. On one occasion, it affected not only the reputation of a local store, but the overall image of the brand. This proved to me that employees needed to be aligned with the company’s overall goal (in this case, assisting customers and selling products) and be able to collaborate on the organizational values. We have to find ways to integrate individual culture and communication methods with the spirit of the brand. Whereas a lack of collaboration will create a domino effect that has a negative impact on everyone, working together in unison is beneficial for all.
Creating internal alignment and efficient collaboration in the workplace is not an easy task. You may face challenges in encompassing a country’s business practices and ethical diversity. Each individual country and region may require a great deal of research in order to understand how best to connect the bridges from location to location. As a leader cultivating Global Intelligence it is imperative that you be able to adapt. Even more vital is that you be able to unite your employees and guide them to become strong brand ambassadors. A higher cultural understanding will make you a stronger connector, someone who empowers people and grows businesses sustainably.
Connect with Igor on LinkedIn.
About Igor Poza: Igor is a Global Brand and Team builder in Luxury Leather Goods and Cosmetics with 25+ years of comprehensive experience, both in headquarters and subsidiaries of Multi-billion Fortune 500, Family-owned businesses and private equity-owned startups. He has expertise in multi-channel retail and multicultural management. His cultural intelligence allows him to bring people together and transform businesses. He currently serves as the Chief Commercial Officer at Mansur Gavriel.
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