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What Airports Can Teach You About Leadership

Last week I had the privilege to speak in both Mumbai and Chennai, India.  A total of 7 airports and 8 flights in a period of 6 day, and yes — 4 of the flights were quite long.

During this time, I experienced a wide range of cultural norms. Some were in sync with mine, while others were not even close.

Let’s just say in India even the line for immigration is nothing more than another line to skip, cut, crowd, or even crawl if necessary to reduce your time in line.  I admit I’ve never been in a line where one moment I’ve been 10 people from the front, and in a flash, I’m suddenly 30 people back. All the while, customs officials and others were not the least bit concerned.  Hey, it’s India, and it’s just another normal day.

How does your leadership fit into the cultural norms of those you’re leading?

If I were to raise an issue about people jumping the line, I would have been viewed as an outcast.  Is it wrong to jump a line?  My norms would say “yes, it’s wrong,” but clearly to people from India, it’s not wrong.   When we place expectations on others, we have to view those expectations through the lens of their cultural norms.

The example I shared might seem unusual to you, but think of the person you’re asking to work evenings to complete a task. To you the request seems routine, but to the person who places a high value on spending time with their family in the evening, the request is out of the ordinary and creates a potential hardship.

When we are looking to achieve maximum performance from those we lead, the more we understand the cultural norms of those people, the more success we’ll achieve.

Remember, the goal of leadership is not just in accomplishing a task, but in lifting up those around you to be empowered to accomplish an even greater outcome.  We will achieve both the more we understand, appreciate and value the cultural norms of others.

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Copyright 2018, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

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