Secrets to Leading Effective Global Teams

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, global talent mobility levels have increased by 25% over the last decade and they predict a further 50% growth by 2020. Which means in the next decade the ability of organizations to manage their global talent efficiently will mark the difference between success and failure.

To get ahead of this challenge, follow along as recognized experts share how they hire, lead and retain the very best global talent in today’s competitive marketplace.

Translations for tomorrow

Build The Right Global Team

In her recent HBR article “Hire the Best and Let Them Work from Wherever They Are,” Cassandra Frangos, Vice President of Cisco’s Global Executive Talent outlines the right things to look for when hiring a remote, global team member:

1. Assess whether the person is independent, passionate about their work, and collaborative. In addition, the most important experience this individual should have is past success working remotely. Find out how they made it work and double down on the due diligence.

2. Consider the individual’s leadership style and how they project themselves. In order to make an impression from afar, they need to stand out in a crowd and be an advocate for their ideas.

3. Take a close look at the manager to whom they will report. Remote employees need someone who will advocate for them regardless of where they live.

Pro Tip: The last part of hiring people who are going to work remotely is knowing when it won’t work. There are some jobs where the location is fixed. In some companies, for instance, the head of sales needs to work in close proximity to the CEO. For other mission-critical positions, it is necessary to be face to face with local accounts or available for the community.

Words That Work

Paul Berry, Founder & CEO of RebelMouse shares what he has learned in his 15 years of managing remote, global teams. Here are three tips that I have personally adopted:

1. Live and breathe your email and make sure the team does too – the only way I’ve found that works is when everyone on the team keeps their inboxes open and checks emails as their absolute highest priority. Without that we operate blindly to each other since there is no tapping someone on the shoulder as there would experience in an office.

2. Give the benefit of the doubt – my team has huge cultural and language differences (although everyone does have a working knowledge of English as the basic way we communicate). We all were raised with different ways of approaching projects, handling conflict resolution, etc. It’s essential that we forgive each other constantly for odd grammar, odd behavior and instead try to make the beauty of building something together lift us above any confusion.

3. Be intentionally positive – It is too easy for things to sound negative in an email. Without tone, body language or anything else, it’s extra important to make sure emails don’t turn into hurt feelings. Sarcasm and deadpan humor can come across the wrong way (especially because humor doesn’t always translate across cultures). But being friendly and approachable – even if it means using lots of emoticons – is always welcome. I try to encourage my team to be overly friendly in their emails, even if it means they sound less “businesslike.”

Improve Team Culture

Melinda Emerson, author and recognized business owner shares “If your team is [or a portion of them are] working virtually like my marketing & sales teams are, leverage technology such as Skype,, and google hangout so you can be ‘face-to-face,’ for certain meetings and try to plan an event not related to work where you get together in real time at some point during the year. You’d be amazed at how spending time together and not just talking about work can really strengthen your bond. Another important reminder from Ms. Emerson: “Invest in your team and they will protect your business.”

Know Your Audience

INSEAD Professor Erin Meyer’s timeless CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria reinforces the importance of cultural awareness and perception as leaders expand their global teams through the potential treacherous terrain.

Timing & Next Steps

Two additional resources worth mentioning include: world clock and the global holiday calendar from Time & Date. These are handy links for anyone working across time zones. Now it’s your turn. Do you have tips or resources that have helped you work in different cultures and get things done? If so, thanks in advance for joining the conversation and sharing insight via the comment section below.

This article originally appeared in

6 thoughts on “Secrets to Leading Effective Global Teams

  1. Brie

    The tips made me change our team’s communication strategy for the better. Now our weekly meetings are much more productive!


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