Michelle Chan is a leadership coach, facilitator and mindfulness practitioner. She is a talented award winning engineer and has been a successful business leader for over 20 years.
Learning to collaborate creatively with people from different cultures is a crucial skill in today’s business environment. I have personally worked in a team with Chinese, Indian, English, Germans and Americans, all part of a global multi-national corporation, who were developing new products for a global market. In my experience, the key is to find a balance between noticing cultural differences and taking opportunities to identify similarities. This can be achieved by cultivating our beginner’s mindset through curiosity; opening our heart with empathy and having the courage to move out of our habitual way of doing and being. This cultural metacognition is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice.
When you move from a senior role to top management, you have to move out from your familiar role as a specialist, an analyst, a warrior and tactician and become more of a generalist, integrator, diplomat and strategist. The skill, behaviour and mindset that got you this far are unlikely to be the requisite skills and mindset for top management. You have to cultivate your growth mindset. This means you will start by learning to lead and eventually you will be leading to learn. With your growth mindset you will be open to new ways of working and you will become more flexible in your approach as you let go of a lot of well-built patterns and enhance your mental space to facilitate new ways of being.