Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 36

Leaders Should be Global Citizens

Given how interconnected and international the workforce has become, it is increasingly important for organizational leaders to be global citizens and understand the importance of cultural nuances, write two management experts.

John Coleman, author of Passion and Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders, and Bill George, professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School, recently wrote a blog entry for the Harvard Business Review about how aspiring leaders can become global citizens and increase their global fluency. Their advice includes:

  • Target at least one fundamentally different culture. "While it may be tempting to live in a culture similar to your own—for example, Americans working in Great Britain—the most compelling learning experiences come from living in cultures that are sharply different from your own," Coleman and George write.
  • Spend time studying overseas. "Studying in different cultures enables young leaders to understand cultural nuances and become actively engaged with global organizations," Coleman and George write. "Look for opportunities, and if you're already out of school, ask if your organization offers programs to give you experience abroad."
  • Learn the local language. "As English becomes the language of business, it is tempting to get by with limited knowledge of local languages," Coleman and George write. "That's a mistake. Learning local languages enables you to appreciate cultural nuances and develop more personal relationships."
  • Don't judge cultural differences or local people. "When your new environment is sharply different from prior experiences, it's tempting to make snap judgments about your experiences and stay attached to your own culture," Coleman and George write. "Resist that temptation by observing, listening, learning and understanding rather than judging."

This article is from the March 19, 2012 issue.

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