Research shows that only 25% of expat employees sent on international assignments are women.
Let’s change that!
Global companies today face complexity and change at pace unlike any before. You are called upon to solve problems that may not have existed a few years ago. Digital is a constant buzz word, yet is everyone craving personal meaning and purpose. We encounter exciting new opportunities, but are still debating about gender gaps and a lack of female representation in management and the C-suite.
Business is evolving quickly, yet all focus is invested in optimizing customer experiences and relationships.. How do we translate today’s trends into strategic human resources practices? How do we reinvent strategies to acquire top talent and prioritize talent as highly as our external customers? Especially when seeking talent with the potential for taking on our demanding expat roles?
I was curious to discover how women in leadership roles abroad felt supported in their career and what is necessary to help them thrive.
During my interview series Expat Women on the Move, I’ve asked every woman:
- how did you get your role?
- what kind of support did you receive during your move?
- how much support do you feel your organization provided?
The findings from this research influenced the Corporate Coaching Program I have created for organizations who want to invest in the long-term potential of their expat workforce.The 360 Degree Expat Leadership Program She Leads Abroad combines a 360 Degree Energy Leadership Index Assessment of key stakeholders within an organization, and provides strategies to boost authentic leadership skills that will allow your expat leaders to perform with confidence in any part of the world.
First, let’s understand what almost all expat women I’ve interviewed and worked with told us about their organizations, support provided and if they’ve felt supported throughout their career:
During my interviews with women in expat leadership roles, 3 Themes stood out:
- How they got into the role? Networking – internally and externally – proved to be key, time and again. . Most women I spoke with felt extra pressure (as compared with male colleagues) to stand out and outperform their peers. Most stated that they did not get the impression from their organization that their expat assignment was part of a bigger career plan.
- Most felt that the act of relocating expats is still considered to be a function of moving containers & arranging visas vs. coordinating real people with their own stories and emotions. Relocation focus is placed on administrative support vs. a strategic support system covering mentoring, coaching and onboarding the expat as quickly as possible.
- Most expat women did not feel supported during the move, either by the HQ or country office . They shared that it felt as though they had to discover most aspects of their new home from scratch, instead of implementing synergies to fast-track learning.
In my experience in recruitment and talent acquisition, and also as an expat myself, I am fascinated by:
- How do we choose the right person for the right place? Who delivers in what market? Who matches with the purpose of the country office? A restructuring organization may require a different type of leader than would a flourishing organization.
- How do we as an organization make sure the expat settles in as fast as possible, connects to the local team, and actually creates sustainable results within the time given?
- How do we support the eco-system of the expat, focusing on family, to also transition successfully and find meaning in the assignment?
- How can we change the narrative of traditional expat models? I.e. Man leads the assignment, wife follows, and in a lot of cases, needs to stop working. How can we actively create pipelines of talented women who will strategically follow in expat roels?
- How can we make sure that expats get leadership coaching and support throughout their career?
And the key questions: How could more expat women on assignment inspire other women along the way, and disrupt any bias or closed mindset we have about moving and living abroad in general?
How can we as organizations support our expats 100%, so they feel invested in as leaders and are ready to master all challenges of global life, while creating the changes you want to see for the organization?
I’d love to work with you as a global organization, when you…
- …want to specifically support your expat women on assignment in boosting their leadership skills and also in co-supporting the emotional side of moving & living a global life?
- … want or wish to see that your expats sent abroad might be future leaders of your organization.
- … are willing to talk about expatriation ‘to-do-lists’ that see beyond visa processes and shipping containers?
- … are interested to discover how to develop your expat leader pool for the coming years, and equip them with courage, adaptability, vision, and resilience², so they will bring the impact and ROI you expect?
Throughout the last few years, I’ve worked to combine a decade of HR consultancy experience, life as a local expat and expat partner, and coaching expat women on assignment. I know about the struggles expats face while on assignment, the additional pressure that is loaded on most women in expat roles, the pressure to deliver results and maximize your Return on Investment when working on the ROI for your organization abroad. I’ve seen expats succeed, struggle, adapt, cope, rationalize, talk future, inspire, lead by default or lead by choice.
It didn’t matter what culture they were in. Most expat women stated 2 traits as THE outstanding success factors:
- Being humble
- Showing empathy
Those two aspects, I’d dare to say, work in every culture across the globe, and it matches the key message of my Coaching Program for Individuals CocoHeart.
Connection + Energy = Impact² wherever you live
We’ve included a 360 Degree Focus in our company program, and created an Expat Leadership Program that places authentic leadership style, attitude, resilience and maximized impact first.
The core message of She Leads Abroad is:
Once you show up as YOU, authentic, humble, and knowing your blind spots – especially when you move to another country or when you experience stress- you will be able to truly connect to your local team, and in the end also inspire them to walk the extra-mile together with you as you bring a new strategy to life. You need energy, resilience and motivation to make that happen. Self Care and cautious management of your own energy batteries will determine your success as an expat, and thus the impact that you will make in new countries.
The 360 Degree Expat Coaching Program She Leads Abroad combines 4 Steps:
- The 360 Degree Energy Leadership Index Assessment (ELI) reviews the overall attitude of your expat, and includes feedback from key stakeholders in the home and host countries. The assessment explores reaction to stress, which has utmost importance when moving to another country.
- The second step is a check-in triad with the coachee and key stakeholders in your organization: The 360 Degree ELI results form the foundation to co-create compassionate goals aligned with the vision of an organization, and the transformation that is expected to come.
- We will answer questions like: What will be key success factors in the culture? What will be a key success factor in this specific assignment?
- How can we align the blind spots we’ve detected with an overall career vision and development?
- Third, we will look into all connections that are key to success for expat women: the team, the boss, the family (if applicable), and personal development.
We answer key questions: How can I show up and lead authentically? How can I practice humbleness? How can I engage and inspire others?
- How can I master my adaptability skills?
- How can I always keep our vision in mind?
- Fourth, and finally, we create habits for work and home, that sustain the energy level of your expat while abroad and equip them with strategies to nail success wherever they are.
The She Leads Abroad Program is a customized program, and can be delivered over varying levels of depth and time, based on your company’s needs: :
- Standard Program of 3 to 6 months; Triad Meetings are held every 2 months to check in
- Light version of only the 360 Degree ELI Assessment followed by 3 coaching sessions, and 1 Check-In Triad Session
If all that resonates with you and your organization’s way forward, let’s have a conversation.