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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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EDUCATION

EXPLAINED: How Spain will make it easier for students to graduate

The Spanish government has passed a new decree which will allow secondary and sixth form students to graduate and receive their qualifications, even if they have failed some subjects.

Spain is changing its education rules
There will also be no re-sitting of exams at Spanish secondary schools. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

The Spanish government approved on Tuesday, November 16th a new Royal Decree which gives instructions to teachers to change the way they grade their students for the rest of the school year of 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.

Education in Spain is compulsory for all those from ages 6 to 16. The Spanish education system is made up of primary and secondary schools. Secondary school is referred to as ESO and students receive a Título de Graduado Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (Title of Graduation from Obligatory Secondary School Education). This is the last four years of compulsory education, up until age 16, and is similar to GCSEs in the UK.

After age 16, Spanish students can go on to study for the optional Bachillerato for the next two years up until age 18. This is equivalent to A-levels in the UK and is needed if the student wants to attend university. 

The new rules apply to the ESO and Bachillerato qualifications. In primary education, there were no specific qualifications or failure limits and this is the same in the new decree too. 

What is changing?

  • Before, students studying for the ESO were allowed to pass each year only if they did not have more than three failed subjects, but now with the new decree, there is no limit.
  • There will also be no re-sitting of exams in ESO.
  • In order to graduate with the ESO qualification at age 16, students could still graduate even if they had up to two failed subjects, however now there is no limit in the number of failed subjects allowed to graduate. 
  • In order to pass each year of the Bachillerato, students could still move on if they had up to two failed subjects. This will stay the same in the new decree too. 
  • In order to graduate with the Bachillerato qualification before, students had to pass all subjects and exams, but now one failed subject is allowed. 
  • Students will also be able to sit the Selectividad, which are the Spanish university admission tests if they have failed some of their Bachillerato (sixth form) school subjects.
  • For the first time in history, students with special needs who have had significant curricular adaptations and have not studied the minimum requirement for other students will also be able to receive their high school qualifications.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is failing in maths and science teaching

How will it be decided if students can graduate?

The text presented to the Council of Ministers by Pilar Alegría, the Spanish Minister of Education states that the decision on whether or not a student passes secondary education will be decided on by each board of the school or institution at the end of the school year.

It is the teaching team “who is given the ultimate responsibility for the decision on the promotion and qualification of students” she stated. It will be the teachers who have to make the decision after assessing whether the student “has reached the appropriate degree of acquisition of the corresponding skills”. 

This means that there will no longer be specific requirements to graduate high school and that the parameters for passing will be different for each institution.   

Why have the rules changed?

The new measures are designed to avoid students repeating years and improve graduation statistics.

According to the latest statistics, out of the countries in the EU in 2020, 79 percent of the population between 25 and 64 years old had graduated Secondary Education or higher and Spain is around 16.1 points below this average. 

Pilar Alegría said that 30 percent of 15-year-old students have repeated a year at least once and “dropout rates are increased by this percentage of students”. 

That is why we are committed to a system “based on trust in teachers”, “continuous evaluation” and “collaborative work by teaching teams”. She has assured that “the culture of effort does not run any risk with this new norm. An effort based on motivation is better than one based on punishment”.  

READ ALSO: Spain passes contested education bill

Are all regions on board with the new rules?

Madrid, Andalusia, Galicia, Castilla y León and Murcia strongly oppose the new rules because they “lower the requirement” and “unsettle the teachers”. 

The five regions complain that the royal decree changes the rules of the game in the middle of the course since the students have started the academic year with a particular curriculum and specific criteria in order to pass it. 

Madrid 

“Within our powers, while respecting the law, we are going to try to prevent the royal decree from being applied, as we consider that it is a direct attack on one of the pillars of the Madrid educational system, as is the merit and the effort of the students “, said sources from the Department of Education of the Community of Madrid.

Galicia

The education authorities in Galicia said that they will also “explore any legal possibility that allows for preserving the culture of effort and quality as signs of identity”.

Castilla y León

The education departments in Castilla y León said that for their part, they “will make sure that the curricular development and the norms of promotion and qualification are the least harmful”.

Andalusia 

“Although the norm establishes that the Baccalaureate degree can be obtained with a failed subject, we understand that it does not make sense because all subjects contribute to the acquisition of the necessary competencies,” said the education authorities in Andalusia.

Murcia 

Murcia is also not in favor of the royal decree and denounces “the improvisation of the Pedro Sánchez government and the lack of legal security for the decisions that have been taken”.   

Unions and Associations

Teachers’ unions such as Csif or Anpe or associations such as Concapa or Cofapa warn that more students are going to arrive less prepared for the next level of education, where the problem will explode. 

These regions argue that this new system will leave a lot of grey areas because teachers’ criteria can be very subjective. The elimination of make-up exams is also causing confusion because “they give another opportunity for students to pass based on their effort and ability”. 

The rest of the regions, on the other hand, were in favor of eliminating the need to re-sit exams because they believe that the evaluation should be “continuous” and the student should not risk everything for a single exam.

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