If you’re doing business today, then you know—local is dead and global is the new norm. And with that, study upon study has come out stating that the number one agenda item for today’s corporate leaders is finding talent that can think and lead globally.
Without the ability to successfully manage a business across borders, you and your organization are destined to fall behind. Yet, leadership programs are failing at preparing future leaders with the skills needed to excel in this new business world. That’s because they fail to cultivate a global mindset which means truly having the desire, knowledge, and skills to operate effectively in business today.
To be an effective global leader, you need the 4 C’s—cultural sensitivity, collaborative skills, comfort with the uncomfortable, and the capacity to motivate people across cultures.
So, how do you get these skills? Thankfully, there are actions you can take right now to help you and your leaders successfully navigate in multiple environments to achieve your organization’s goals.
Have an open mind
Global leaders have the ability to accept that a particular situation may not be like anything they’re familiar with. They recognize that what works well in one culture could be unintentionally alienating in another, causing a rift between a manager and his or her team. They adapt their approach to specific dynamics and are able to mirror the shifting standards of multiple regions.
Live and travel abroad
Leaders need to experience what it’s like to live and exist in another country. This experience will help them appreciate cultural differences, incorporate what they learn into their work lives, and build networks of global relationships. The best global leaders are those that are comfortable in different cultures and understand the nuances of doing business outside their home country. Not to mention, living abroad, and seeing and experiencing new and different things can lead to a more fulfilling and enriched life.
The best global leaders are curious about anything and everything new and different. They ask questions of their teams, customers, clients, and partners and put aside opinions and criticisms. They’re eager to learn, and listen more than they talk.
The global business world is comprised of varying perspectives and ambiguity. A global leader is comfortable with this and is responsive to true differences in problem-solving among countries. They have the ability to learn from mistakes and to balance shorter and longer term objectives.
If you’re working in a new, specific, region of the world, get online, memorize five facts about the country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be seen as credible. And by showing an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect and show genuine interest in your new associates.
Effective global leaders know their management style and how it might be received by different cultures. For example, most of us have experienced both the micromanaging boss and the hands-off boss. In some cultures, teams will expect a manager to keep a tight rein and will feel abandoned by a boss who allows more independence. Other cultures are the opposite. Other differences to be aware of include how decisions are made, how recognition is given, how feedback is given and how time is viewed.
In today’s business world, you may have people working globally, working virtually, doing business with people from other regions or countries, or employing workers from other cultures. Being able to think and lead globally, or have a global mindset, is crucial for success and growth in this new business world order.