For the past few weeks, Bain’s been busy sharing his insights with the ClearPoint team after completing Unit I of the 53rd Owner President Programme (“OPM53”). And while he’s picked up heaps of fantastic business takeouts, he says being “pushed outside his comfort zone” in a completely new environment also challenged his thinking on a personal level.

So what did Bain discover? He’s a few of the key personal insights he recently shared with us…

1. Adjust your comms, seek to understand and acknowledge cultural differences.
Even little things like thinking about the way you communicate with people from different cultures is crucial to achieving effective team collaboration. Here in New Zealand, we use a lot of informal language, sayings and sarcasm, which are not universal and just won’t work. Furthermore in business training, differing cultures have different approaches to situations and problems – particularly areas like negotiation.  It is important to understand the behavioural and cultural norms people take as you engage.  Taking time to seek, understand and acknowledge cultural differences is especially important for us as our workplace continues to become more diverse.

2. It’s important to remain curious, to keep an open mind, park any biases.
OPM offered a unique experience mixing with 170 business people from over 40 different countries with an amazing mix of industries, company models and organisation sizes.  For many participants, Harvard Business School (HBS) was their first exposure to tertiary and/or executive education.  Staying curious with an open mind enables you to tap into a rich array of people’s experience – it’s quite incredible what leaders have achieved through their work.  Amazing stories to be shared from what you might think are the unlikeliest of places.

3. Have the courage (+ data) to make change happen
Being part of a learning experience amongst other senior leaders provided unique insights into differing leadership styles. A common theme was that leaders with the courage to communicate openly, directly and decisively proved to be effective in driving businesses forward.  A clear take out was working on the ability to link ‘instincts’ and judgment with data+models to support decisions in a way where you can act quickly.  Essentially If you really believe in the potential of an idea, then do the work, drive transparency and make it happen!

4. Be good. The HBS team do a great OPM close out focussing on performance, respect and decency.
a). They encourage participants to take a values basis to their work reminding us all that the OPM course mantra is “Make a decent profit, decently.”
b). They encourage humility, decency, respect asking all participants personally thank the support staff, kitchen and service people of HBS as they leave by borrowing an African Zulu phrase “Sawubona” (Translates to “I see your personality. I see your humanity. I see your dignity and respect.”)
c). And finally – take a bias for action borrowing from Ghandi – “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. Have the courage, conviction and integrity to lead change from the front.