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Leading a Remote Multinational Team
Sean: And now I’m wondering, what am I missing when it comes to your leadership? How do you lead all the way from Singapore? You’re leading a multinational team from different places, mostly from the Philippines, but from different places. How do people see you as a leader? How do you build on that?
Wouter: That’s a very difficult question to answer because that’s going to evolve throughout, right? I’ve led teams for a long time. I’m sure my style has changed quite a bit over time. Also, I feel a little bit uncomfortable, you know, kind of talking about my own style and, you know, let me just give it a go without trying to be too pretentious, maybe a couple of things that matter to me.
I do believe a lot and lead by example, I do think that what I don’t like in people is when they boss people around. I don’t believe in that whatsoever. I don’t believe in massive structures in companies. I like people that just work together. I’ve always been part of a football team, for instance. Right. And I was a captain of the team. But that doesn’t mean people report to me necessarily. That just means like, you know, they probably listen to you a bit more and you have to earn that right to be listened to. You still have to sell, right? People forget this. I have a very different view on sales for instance, like, am I into sales? 100%. I’m selling every day. I’m selling to my co-founder new ideas that I need to align with. I don’t believe in basically telling people what to do. I want them to buy into it because then they’re all in, right? You listen to people’s ideas and make sure you consider everyone, give everybody a chance to speak just to staff in general, to clients, to vendors. You’re always selling. And I think that’s an important part. I think people forget that buy-in is very crucial. That’s one thing I believe in, at least.
As I said, there’s a cultural component to it that matters to me. But I think also one thing is fairness is important. Like, you know, it’s not my way or the highway. You know, let everyone have a chance to prove themselves and convince me of doing anything else, right? But backed up with data, I will trust my gut more than yours unless you back it up. That’s something I always tell people, right? Why would I trust your opinion more than mine if it we’re both an opinion, but come with a convincing argument, I will listen for sure. But don’t debate with me on whatever its feelings. Right. So, I’m quite black and white, so yeah, I don’t look – I am very unstructured on my answer, I’m just showing things that come to mind because I don’t really – I kind of go with the flow a little bit.
One thing I also realized I would say is, that you have to adjust your style to the people that you have. Don’t think that you can be a person and follow a certain method and rules and expect everyone to just accept it. And that would just work for everyone. You have to say things differently to different people. You have to understand how people think and then make sure you do things the right way to achieve your ultimate objectives. And that just takes time a little bit. You’ll mature and you’ll also build more chemistry with people, and you’ll adapt to that.