Buenos Aries, April 2011; I join 21 experienced coaches from Canada, The UK, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Brazil to experience the sought-after material developed by European pioneer Philippe Rosinski and his partner Australian Dina Zavrski-Makaric. Day 1; we’re divided into smaller teams—ours is called The Blue Team, and our brief is to submit a collaborative team project by day 3. Right. That seems easy enough. Except…well, we not getting along so well. One of our Chilean colleagues is struggling with her English and the other Chilean Coach feels it necessary to translate for her. This means we work slowly. This frustrates the India coach who prefers to move fast. One of the Argentine coaches looks set to sulk, she doesn’t enjoy the bad vibe that’s brewing. I want to grab my bags and leave, that’s my conflict-averse nature.
This is it folks—the subtle drama that plays out when people of different cultural orientations are asked to work together. Its not simply that I am South African and you are from Brazil. In our own country, it may be as simple as I am from Johannesburg and you are from Durban. Countries and regions have cultures, as do corporations, organizations and professions. Within groups there are individual differences, class and educational differences, ethnic and racial differences, personality type differences and gender differences. Our collection of personal experiences also determines our cultural lens, such as the way we were raised, the environment we grew up in, our nationality, geography, the culture of our religions or work place and our individual preferences. Without identifying and highlighting these cultural differences, we’re hard pressed to find solutions to satisfying working relationships in the short term.
Thanks to Rosinski’s Coaching Across Cultures Orientation Framework (COF), each member of The Blue team was able to identify which of our cultural triggers was being pushed. The Indian coach saw time as scarce, the Chilean coach leaned toward a control orientation, I prefer an indirect communication style, and the Brazilian wanted us to take a universalistic approach. Once we’d shed light on the differences (7 categories with sub-categories under each), we knew better how to adjust our own style while honouring each others. We delivered our project on day 3 with new respect for what is needed to embrace cultural differences and use them as a platform to leverage understanding.
Rosinski and Zavrski-Makaric are coming to South African in March 2012. I will be joining them to deliver this 3-day dynamic certification. If cultural impact within the coaching dynamic interests you, or you want to elevate your company’s success rate, let me know so that I can add you to the special database.