Volume 11 • Issue 3
WELCOME to our e-Newsletter that answers: What is global leadership?
- Yael Zofi – Up, Close & Personal
- Yael Zofi – Professional Experiences
- The Genesis of “Agent of Connection”
- What is Global Leadership?
- AIM Strategies® New Direction
- Yael Zofi – What’s Next?
- About AIM Strategies®
AIM team members interviewed Yael Zofi in preparation for her Expert Series appearances and public seminars. Yael has worked in management consulting for 25+ years, witnessing the transformation of business management due to the acceleration of our global community and technology. We would like to share highlights of her reflections with you, our eNews readers.
Q. What significant professional experiences have had the most impact on your career?
Yael: I find that question complex because no experience is too little or irrelevant. Each experience taught me something and in fact, my current work in virtual teams is the culmination of experiences going as far back as my years as an associate consultant at Accenture.
Q. What projects or experiences have influenced your work the most?
Yael: With each project I constantly learn how to better apply tools to help teams succeed, and that is at the heart of my work. Here’s an example: The virtual Wheel of Trust™ model discussed in my book, A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams, came out of a training program I developed for a leading healthcare conglomerate. Their team of top scientists was dispersed across the Midwest USA, Israel and India, and there were significant cross-cultural differences which lead to a breakdown in trust. I helped them find ways to build what I call Long-Term (Lasting) trust and improve team communications. All that led to better business outcomes. I realized their situation was far from unique, and the tool I developed, which became this Wheel of Trust™ has been successful ever since.
Q. One of your key ideas is actually about ‘connection’. What would you say was the genesis of that concept?
Yael: After Accenture, I continued with Price Waterhouse (now PwC) and then JP Morgan. These career moves exposed me to bigger projects, and I ended up getting involved in global assignments. One project consisted of a global implementation of performance management processes for 19,000 employees and managing a multi-million global training budget for the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Working with teams in disparate locations – like Sao Paulo, Mexico, Tokyo, Australia, and Eastern Europe – I could foresee how globalization and outsourcing would change talent development in America as well. Complexity became a reality and I realized that the people management side of business had to adjust.
In 1999, I gave a controversial talk entitled ‘Agent of Connection’ at the annual Organizational Development Network Conference. I say controversial because the audience response was aggressive and angry. I argued that managers needed to shift their attention from managing change to managing connection, to ensure that dispersed talent would stay connected, and therefore productive. I must have come off as an endorser of outsourcing, a very dirty word back then. But by 2012, more than 90% of employees were working virtually often or very often.
Q. Why does today’s manager need to be an “Agent of Connection”? And what will such an approach achieve for the workplace?
Yael: During the past 25+ years I have witnessed and helped facilitate three critical developments in leadership that were quite significant. You may not remember this, but back in the 70s, business focus was driven by the Total Quality Movement and the role of the leader was to increase performance quality. Well into the 80s and 90s the business focus shifted into facilitating change, and leadership’s role evolved into managing change and transition. During that time I worked at PwC, and our key focus as consultants was around Business Process Reengineering, an idea popularized by Michael Hammer. This trend, combined with technology and globalization, evolved into the more contemporary trend of outsourcing and international mergers.
Current business developments call for yet another change in leadership, towards connectivity and connection. Today’s successful leaders managing global teams must be capable of optimizing the skills of a diverse workforce, where multiple values, cultures and languages brings the potential for colleagues to disconnect from each other. A key role of tomorrow’s ‘global explorer’ manager is to be the ‘Agent of Connection’, connecting virtual teammates to the manager him/herself and to each other.
Q. You mentioned must-have skills for today’s global manager who you refer to as the ‘Agent of Connection’. Does this answer the question of what is global leadership? Can you suggest what these might be and where one can find more resources or tools about them?
Yael: Today’s virtual managers must handle their expanded role as global leaders in our intensely competitive, hyper-connected business environment. What does it take to be successful at it? Well, my quest to find some answers led me to conduct research, which culminated in a survey about leadership issues that I conducted several years ago. The results were published in our GlobaLeader Survey Report.
This GlobaLeadership™ (GL) model I came up with is available to my readers and visitors at no cost. The heart of this model answers the question “what is global leadership?” and it is the concept of the leader as the Agent of Connection, surrounded by seven critical dimensions for effective virtual team leadership. These dimensions are:
I was recently interviewed to answer the question “what is global leadership?” You can view the video here – Virtual Cliff note #9 Virtual Leadership.
Q. So are virtual teams and cross-cultural communications a new direction for AIM Strategies®, away from executive coaching and on-site team building?
Yael: At our core, we are still the hands-on, personal human capital consulting firm we have been since 1998. We still conduct executive coaching, global leadership development and employee training. As we evolve we are becoming a go-to resource for managers and colleagues working in virtual teams and improving cross-cultural communications. This may be a huge claim, but we believe in results and that’s why we always welcome tough, business-minded clients who demand tangible results.
Q. And finally, what’s next for you now that you’ve written, presented and traveled through a year-long global and virtual journey?
Yael: A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams is the culmination of 20+ years of experience and more than 150 in-depth interviews with virtual team leaders and members. Having worked globally and glocally, virtually and in-person, I saw an acute need for a hands-on roadmap for virtual teams. And, over the past year, AIM Strategies® has developed assessments, simulations, toolkits and workshops around the book’s modules. Helping clients set-up and align their dispersed teams for higher productivity when managing global teams and an improved bottom-line has been very rewarding for me.
AIM Strategies® Applied Innovative Management® is a results-driven Human Capital Consulting firm specializing in the areas of: Global Leadership Development, Co-located and Virtual Team Facilitation, Cross Cultural Communications, and Change Integration Services. To request information about AIM’s experiential learning methods (5D’s™ Consulting/Proprietary Training Methodology and ACT™ Coaching Process), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In upcoming issues of this newsletter, we’ll update you on tips and techniques related to raising your innovative management IQ. We are confident that the solutions we develop fit your needs and culture. Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues and visit www.aim-strategies.com to learn more about how our services unlock the people potential of your organization!