This is a very common issue nowadays in our globalized World…Nevertheless, not all executives know how to hold a meeting with their CEO when he/she comes from a completely different culture than their own. Each culture has own traditions and protocols and even if the CEO is a global professional he/she might still behave under those cultural patterns.
There’r a few questions any executive should know before going into that meeting: What does the CEO wants? How does he/she expresses that? What is the cultural “protocol” underlaying his/her behavior? Unless executives do not understand all those things deepely they might fall into missinterpretations and missunderstandings which can turn later on to misleading and failure on the strategy implementation.
I have recently undergone one of these meetings in Guinea and it was quite interesting. The CEO and owner being an African citicen, myself from Europe. In the African culture respect between people is extremely important. Every gesture, every word you say counts. So, I made myself into the room and waited to be invited to seat down and join the CEO to the round table. He was a nice man, quite polite and accessible. My goal was to disccuss within an hour time span over 25 pages of the document I had prepared; it was definitely a great challenge due to cultural differences and also to his tight agenda. Within the first minutes I let him knowto my point regarding the current status in his company regarding staff performance and technical issues, and that was perhaps the most delicate part as I did not want offend him. it was HIS company! I was straight but politically correct, I did not exagerated the point, just give him a few examples on what I thought was wrong and how we could improve those areas at the lowest cost. Then I went into restructuration issues, explaining him how the company would improve current performance if he moved a few people into different positions, hiring and additional mining engineer who helped us increase productivity. He liked!
Finally I introduced a few marketing ideas on how to find investors in the international market, in Mines&Miney’s type events, how to connect to those potential investors and how to sell our product in order to be attractive to them. He liked that even more!
The meeting finalized very friendly, he was impressed and said he would implement the measures I dropped in the meeting. Summarizing, a very successful meeting based on cross-cultural understanding and deep technical knowledge.