How do you enable leaders to develop their leadership peace-building skills? What drives individuals to develop and grow when working in a complex, unpredictable, and stressful environment? How do you manage and lead subject matter experts from diverse national and professional cultural backgrounds?
Gigi de Groot's personal purpose is to use her passion for differences between people to create mutual understanding, connection, and open-mindedness. Since the mid-90s creating cultural competence has been her way of working with leaders in an international setting.
You can watch the full video below on inclusive leadership with sound by following this link
I have been working in the field of culture and management since 1996. I continue to pick up the impact of culture on a daily base when working internationally and interculturally. Prior to coming to Brussels I lived for over 20 years in Sweden. I worked as a leadership consultant for multinationals such as Ericsson, IKEA and Electrolux. As the CEO for a boutique consulting company specialised on intercultural management and organisational culture in 25 countries and with around 60 consultants worldwide I learned all about remote teams and online facilitating. This extensive experience took me to the Swedish governmental agency for peace, security and development, the Folke Bernadotte Academy where I supported leaders of the United Nations and the EU to contribute to peace. In 2021 they sent me to Brussels to enable leaders of the civilian missions of the EU to be the vehicles for peace. In countries such as Georgia, Mali, Iraq, Libya, Kosovo I develop the leadership peace building skills of senior leaders in the field. Below you can dive a little deeper into the areas of expertise I apply on a daily base.
For me leadership is not only about what I do but also about who I am. My leadership philosophy is one of inclusion as you might have guessed from the video above. It is about creating an environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and able to contribute their best work. A leader should be open-minded and therefore willing to accept a diverse range of people and ideas. It is also about cooperation, cultural competence, and promoting psychological safety. I try to be to be a leader who is compassionate, caring, and willing to lend a helping hand. Simon Sinek said it beautifully "Leadership is not about being in charge but taking care of those that are in our charge". It is with this mindset I guide the leaders I meet and have received the trust to support.
What may be an effective and efficient way of working for people of one particular culture may prove to be ineffective, inefficient or actually counter-productive for another. The effectiveness of different approaches to such crucial issues as leadership, communication, motivation, appraisal, selection and reward can be shown to be highly culture-dependent. As the lack of insight into national cultural differences can reduce the effectiveness of people working in an international context, I believe developing managers to become more culturally competent is key. I help people to recognize and understand their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to the various cultures they are working with, and guide them in making more use of their own strengths and those of their colleagues to create cultural synergies. My knowledge and expertise come from the years I worked with prof Geert Hofstede and other highly skillful interculturally savvy people who dedicate their professional life to creating cultural competence and building understanding between cultures.
When I worked as a CEO I discovered the effectiveness and ease of using a facilitator. To free myself from leading meetings and handing over the process to someone else while I could be focusing on contributing to the topic discussed. Once I experienced the added value I also realised it is a specific skill set, one that requires active listening, the art of formulating questions and creating inclusion. Facilitation is to be used in working with a group, enabling and supporting them to achieve their objectives in a way that involves and respects all contributions, builds ownership and releases the potential of the group and its members. Since 2012 I added facilitation to my toolbox. I also got certified as an online facilitator, something which came in very handy when the whole world went online in 2020 during the pandemic. Combining facilitation with my cultural competence created a special skill set, helping me to design online meetings for an international audience that are appealing and inclusive for everyone. And the latest addition is facilitating team walks. Which basically is facilitating a meeting or process while going on longer walks with groups. A great way to connect to team members (and nature) through sharing and conversing while walking.
Areas of expertise
Inspiration & Educational
Below I have gathered a few links on insights and tools I apply frequently for further inspiration;