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Going Out on a Limb: More Risk, Less Certainty

Posted on December 7, 2017

Going Out on a Limb: More Risk, Less Certainty

Adjusting Influencing Styles to Reach Risk-Takers

When it comes to influencing others, one of the most basic mistakes a global business leader can make is to assume that others are like themselves. Trying to influence colleagues using a method that would be most impactful to oneself, without consideration of others, will ultimately lead to failure.

The leaders who are most effective at influencing understand the importance of cultural self-awareness, the cultural makeup of their teams as well as the need to bridge gaps in work styles. However unfamiliar overseas business nuances may seem at first, leaders must be able to make fair assessments of their employees’ work styles and adjust their influencing styles to follow suit. Comprehensive cultural intelligence learning tools like GlobeSmart® can help with these assessments and provide advice on how to work and influence colleagues effectively from across the globe.

Near But Far

Let’s consider the work-style differences of Japan and Australia. Though somewhat close in terms of geographic proximity, the work-style differences between Japan and Australia can be seen as worlds apart. However, in recent years there has been a steady rise in Asian expats, including Japanese, living, studying, and working in Australia’s metropolitan regions. So it’s more important than ever to understand these cultural variances.

On average, Australia is a country that is generally comfortable with taking risks. Risk-oriented cultures value rapid results and quick decision making, and they tend to dive into new projects with the assumption that issues can be solved along the way. Unlike Australians, Japanese are generally much less comfortable with taking risks. They tend to value comprehensive and conclusive research before making decisions in the workplace.

The GlobeSmart Profile comparison below shows the differences between the national averages of Japan and Australia. It’s important to note that different environments can shape cultural patterns, and that an individual’s profile may vary from national norms.

Putting Influence into Practice

Let’s examine a scenario. A multinational engineering firm based in Japan recently opened an office in Australia. Amaya, a meticulous, veteran engineer from the Japan office, has been promoted to team leader of the firm’s new office in Sydney, Australia. She is charged with spearheading a new STEM program in Australia. At the onset of her new post, she has a difficult time adjusting to what she perceives as the less-cautious, more straightforward nature of her Australian counterparts. This more direct style, which may signal competence in more risk-oriented cultures, is not what she is accustomed to, coming from her risk-averse home country of Japan. She needs to work with her team to get the new program up and running, while building a positive professional relationship with her new colleagues. But where does she start?

How should she adjust her influencing style to best reach her counterparts who are more comfortable with taking risks?

It’s important for Amaya to get out of her comfort zone. To start, inviting her colleagues to participate in weekly brainstorming sessions about ideas for the new program is a good strategy for generating creative ideas, and will help with building rapport among the team. While Amaya is accustomed to pre-meeting reading materials and carefully structured meeting agendas at home in Japan, she can adapt her approach to meet the local needs in Australia, where informal brainstorms are the norm.

Other Strategies for Influencing More Risk-Oriented Colleagues:

By shifting their communication styles and taking time to understand cultural and work-style differences among team members, those who are less risk-oriented, like Amaya, can be on their way to becoming strong, respected global leaders.

The advice above was taken from the GlobeSmart Profile, which offers practical advice for adapting your work style across five dimensions of culture. For a limited time, you can sign up to check out the NEW and improved GlobeSmart Profile today!

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