Ask any Leader in a global business organization how they define success and the answer is likely to include some combination of:

  • Thinning out an overflowing email in-box
  • Multi-tasking whilst attending back-to-back conference calls
  • Squeezing in a few minutes for personnel related problems that can’t wait until tomorrow

Unfortunately, none of these activities are likely to achieve one of the key measures by which Leaders judge their success … winning the trust of their team members.

That requires an approach that puts human beings first … and at the heart of an organization’s corporate culture.

But first, there has to be a deep understanding of the changes created by technological advances and how they impact Leaders in today’s business world.

Let’s consider some of the key ones.

Distance is no longer a hurdle to success. Virtual communication technologies, many of them free, make it possible to speak with prospects, clients and employees using both audio and video.  This is particularly helpful, given that travel budgets are increasingly tight and the likelihood of meeting face-is-face is declining.

Geography is not an issue either.  The Internet has turned the world into a global market place where suppliers could be in one continent, customers in another, employees in a third, and the Corporate Head Office anywhere the CEO happens to be based.

Employees, too, can be sourced from a variety of countries, provided they have the right combination of skills and cost.

So far, so good.

Making it all work, however, requires an understanding of the pitfalls along the way.

The tyranny of never ending emails and conference calls is one manifestation of the pitfalls.  Virtual communication technology was supposed to simplify, streamline and support human interaction.  Instead it has become an excuse for not engaging in direct contact, even if at a distance.

‘Humanized’ Leaders understand this intuitively and take their first step by demonstrating that they actually care about the team member with whom they are working.

They learn about the national and business culture of overseas-based team members, and use this knowledge to change their personal communication style to make themselves better understood.

They give team members the opportunity to host the weekly team call on a rotating basis. What they get in return is an understanding of the priorities of the team member, which may differ materially from theirs.

They share their passion with their team members during short virtual meetings in a manner that engages and involves everyone.

They use video calls on a one-to-one basis to learn about a team member’s specific challenges and help them to clear any corporate hurdles, whilst keenly observing body language.

They inculcate a mind-set that automatically asks “how can I make this idea work in my geography” rather than “here’s 99 cultural reasons why it won’t work here”.

They listen … they empathise … they set clear goals that everyone has signed up for … and they lead by example in overcoming hurdles.

Of course this is just a start, but over time, their thoughts and actions will showcase them as a human being first and a corporate warrior second.

They will no longer be perceived as just an email signature or a voice on the phone.

They will have become ‘Humanized Leaders’.