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How to work in an international team

Even before the pandemic reshaped our world, the way that we work was being fundamentally changed by technology.

How to work in an international team
Working in modern teams means that you'll need to employ a number of leadership skills. Learn these with Valar. Photo: Valar

Perhaps the biggest change is this: for the first time, many of us are now working remotely as part of teams that cross not just time zones, but international borders. 

This has significant implications, not least how leaders manage their teams. How do you make sure you connect with your team, and correctly identify their needs and challenges? How do you motivate – like a leader rather than a boss – with each individual, when you’re not sharing physical space with them?

Together with the mobile-first leadership institute, Valar, we identify the key ideas that anyone leading a team in 2022 needs to understand. 

A wide world of leaders 

While everyone has their own idea of what makes a good leader, there are also commonly understood perceptions of leadership qualities within different cultures. 

One need only look at the differing perceptions of good leadership across Western Europe to understand just how widely leadership styles can differ from country to country. 

In Germany, for instance, a study of hundreds of middle managers identified a set of common qualities that defined a good leader. These included a strong focus on performance, high participation within their teams and the granting of autonomy, dependent on results. That is to say, a good German leader was seen to be working alongside their team, offering flexibility as long as performance was good. Pragmatism, above all, is considered an ideal leadership quality. 

In contrast, the Italian view of leadership was shown by one study to be one of high ‘power-distance’ – ultimate authority comes from above and is accepted by teams. Personal charisma is valued more highly, and behaviour or activities that could leave a leader open to failure are avoided. Uncertainty is not accepted and, historically, masculinity may be perceived a prized attribute. Strength is what Italian workers see as the bedrock of leadership. 

In the Netherlands, the idea of a strong, charismatic leader who exerts power downwards is one that is avoided, for a number of historical reasons. The Dutch see good leaders as those there to support and motivate their workers towards effective performance. They are organisers and project managers more than they are a captain, ‘steering the ship’.  

The further one goes across the globe, the more variation one encounters. The Chinese perception of a good leader is grounded in deference to superiority and age, whereas leadership found across most of the African continent is more centered around humanist principles, for instance. 

What does this mean for anyone leading an international team? Essentially, it means that one style of leadership won’t be effective in managing everyone. These cultural differences mean that your team members won’t respond in the same way, to the same approach, leading to uncertainty and misunderstandings. 

A strong grounding in the basic principles of effective international leadership and cross-cultural communication is utterly essential to build a working environment that embraces all notions of leadership – a specific focus of the Valar program. 

Learn how to lead across international borders with Valar, the mobile-first leadership institute from Quantic. Apply today, applications end soon

Valar students take advantage of in-person conferences and meet-ups. Photo: Valar Institute at Quantic School of Business and Technology

The growing importance of ‘soft skills’

Another focus of the Valar program is the application of leadership through and with ‘soft skills’ – qualities such as dependability, resilience and negotiation skills, all of which can be learned. As the workplace becomes more connected, and many tasks become automated, it is these skills that will become ‘the future of work‘. When technical skills become largely obsolete due to technological progress, it is the ability to work effectively with others that will prove more useful. 

The most effective means of developing these ‘soft skills’ is through real life application within teams. This requires a great degree of communication skills and dedication, and a cottage industry of trainers have emerged in the last few years to impart these skills. 

Setting Valar apart in this instance is their mobile-first program built around the study and analysis of real-life workplace situations. Valar students are encouraged to not only draw upon their own experiences in resolving scenarios, but discuss them with their colleagues, seeking other perspectives.

Develop the ‘soft skills’ that will allow your to manage diverse teams with Valar, the leadership institute from Quantic.

The first step towards leadership

For those wanting to become the effective workplace leaders of tomorrow, managing broad international teams across the globe, education is the path forward. 

Valar Institute is a division of Quantic School of Business and Technology, the highly selective graduate school with a student and alumni network of over 15,000. Valar’s MBA in Management and Leadership and Executive MBA in Strategic Leadership are equipping rising stars and seasoned professionals with a cutting-edge education to help them navigate the complexities of a more remote, global workforce

Not only does Valar offer outstanding teaching that draws on the latest in leadership research, but the material is offered in a way that complements your career – as a mobile-based program, it is inherently flexible and built for busy individuals . Built on the same platform as Quantic it uses the same tested learning strategies to guide you through the complete program in less than a year, fitting around your work schedule. 

Valar participants will also be exposed to a world of fresh perspectives through their alumni networks, which reinforce the key learnings undertaken during the course. Optional conferences and networking events reinforce collaboration and communication skills additionally. 

As the way that we work fundamentally changes, and management of teams comes under more scrutiny than ever before, there’s never been a better time to learn how to lead. 

Begin your journey towards greater leadership opportunities with Valar – find out more about how you can make an MBA at Valar work for you 

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EDUCATION

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools
Illustration Photo: AFP

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

However, representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have made it clear that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.

FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was “a signal against political Islam” while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from “subjugation”.

The government says the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Austria's official Muslim community organisation IGGOe has previously condemned the proposals as “shameless” and a “diversionary tactic”.

The IGGOe says that in any case only a “miniscule number” of girls would be affected.

Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.

The government admits that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria's constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The OeVP and FPOe formed a coalition in late 2017 after elections in which both parties took a tough anti-immigration stance and warned of the dangers of so-called “parallel societies”.

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