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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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BREXIT

‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.

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