How to foster leadership in the international workplace 

21 June 2022

Leadership in the workplace has undergone significant change in the last few decades. Not that long ago, autocratic leadership was the norm in businesses around the world. Senior managers made important decisions without the input of employees. 

As global business continues to be shaped by technical and commercial innovation, employers rely on their employees to be engaged and creative while they work. Building a strong organisational culture has been key to this.  Leadership has become more people oriented and collaborative. Employers realise that employee experience is critical to happiness at work which in turn leads to improved engagement and lower turnover. 

We have already looked at how to be a better leader at work from an expat perspective, but today’s question is how do we encourage others by fostering leadership in the international workplace?. Modern leadership is about empowering others to be the best versions of themselves while they work. Your businesses diversity and inclusion practices are going to play a role in this but so does your leadership style. 

Before broaching such a significant move with your children ensure you are confident taking this opportunity is right for you and your family. Children not only pick up on parental anxiety, they are negatively affected by it too. Framing the move as a family adventure will make it something to look forward to. 

Throughout life you are likely to have had people you looked up to. Away from work they may have been parents, teachers or those who led the extra-curricular activities you were involved in. As a young employee, you may have sought advice from managers or more experienced colleagues. The need for mentorship doesn’t disappear as you or your colleagues move into the higher levels of management. As you move to working on a global team, encourage others to become great leaders by:

  • Listening to them
  • Arranging regular check ins
  • Avoiding the temptation to ‘fix’ everything
  • Allowing employees to learn from mistakes
  • Providing them with challenging tasks 
  • Supporting their completion
At an international level it is important to help your management team learn to walk this tricky tightrope. When should the need for global consistency trump the local needs or customs and how should leaders make this decision? A global mindset is required when an organisation is developing procedures that seek efficiencies of scale and help integrate decision making across global boundaries. Conversely leaders should try to meet local needs where they differ widely. For example people departments based in the US and UK may offer employees differing health insurance policies based on requirement in the local markets. 
It is difficult for your team to improve if they are not getting the support and education they need to do better. Building employees into future leaders requires investment in their skills and knowledge. Executive coaching, workshops and conferences are likely to help employees stay on top of their game in today's fast paced working world. Part of the fun of moving somewhere new is all the different things there are to do there. Encourage your child to research life in your new home. Encourage them to make a list of activities they would like to try or places they would like to visit. This will help build excitement and provide a great resource for weekends as you settle in.
Showing employees you appreciate a job well done encourages employees to repeat the behaviour. Over time this is likely to encourage them to begin to lead others in the department or team to do likewise. Rewards can be verbal, written or benefits like a team lunch or night out. 
As your business scales internationally, feedback becomes even more important. Help employees become better leaders by identifying areas of improvement with constructive criticism. The important thing to remember about constructive criticism is it should not be harsh, it should be helpful. It’s also important that this is a two way conversation, ask those you are mentoring what you can do to be a better leader.  
Positive work environments matter, even at a global level. For a work environment to be truly successful it is better if it is trusting and open with a spattering of fun. If you incorporate elements of enjoyment into your international workplace you are likely to see improvement in how people work together.  
Fostering leadership in an international workplace is likely to be only one of the challenges you are facing. Let us look after your company’s international health insurance needs so you can focus on getting your business where it needs to be.