The cases are presented in the book for readers to reflect upon and come up with their own strategy. Below are the real decisions made by the leaders.
The newly appointed leader decided to impose an equalitarian view on management. This took her time, explaining and training. She empowered her staff progressively, discussed the managerial style differences at length and why she believed an equalitarian approach would give the necessary shift to the company. Her results were so impressive in the country that she soon became part of the board.
The senior executive adopted the local norm and a strategy that would allow him to deal with time flexibility. He took his laptop everywhere to be able to work as he was waiting for meetings. He did not see delays as a lack of respect for his person, but as a simple matter of cultural fact and adjusted accordingly. What was interesting is that the flexibility of the Portuguese executives enabled him to schedule meetings with short notice and to adjust his schedule according to the delays he experienced. In the end, he had as many meetings as he would have in Holland. The only difference is that the scheduling was ever changing rather than fixed.
I called a meeting to discuss the evaluation. I brought up the issues related to the past year and suggested changes in the team which would address these issues moving forward. I then used a solidarity building strategy, stressing the fact that below 4 out of 5 the evaluation of the Agency was going to trigger an escalation to senior management on both sides. This would cast all lights on our teams at a time when we were trying to develop a new campaign and were better off without that additional political pressure. This argument was clearly accepted as a legitimate reason for pushing the 4 mark. Having made an effort on my side, the client was willing to push to the 4 in return and we ended up on a positive note.
My colleague gave me the solution. Let’s all go out. I suggested a bar that I knew Chen liked in Shanghai and with the help of this colleague went out together. We had a very pleasant evening although I was still tense about the situation. Our colleague left arguing he had a family obligation. It is late at night, over a few virgin and non-virgin mojitos, that we got to the bottom of it. Chen himself gave me his version of the facts with some other thoughts from other participants in the meeting which he had gathered in the meantime. Combined with the debrief from the client it all now made sense and I was clear on what to do to move the campaign forward.