Leadership in a global context means leading across borders from my perspective. Not all teams will be from the same country and culture which is why having a global viewpoint is important. A good leader is able to recognize these differences and adapt their leadership style accordingly. The best way to learn about cultural differences and similarities is through research and active listening. Taking the time to research online the customs of another nation before doing business there as well as paying close attention to the behavior of people from that culture can go a long way to helping someone become a more effective global leader.
My personal top 3 lessons from the Harvard ManageMentor: Global Collaboration modules was that physical distance, cultural differences, and language barriers can all have significant effects on team productivity if there is poor communication and leadership. Physical distance presents the most obvious challenge to a team as it makes face to face interaction hard. Given the current pandemic, I found this concept to be particularly important as the many of the teams I have worked with over the past year were entirely virtual. Before going through these modules, I did not realize the full scope of the cultural differences that exist across the world. These differences can range from communication styles to structuring of meetings. I think this is an important lesson as it is crucial to consider these cultural aspects when working on an international team. Disregard for these differences can result in offending people as well as harming team dynamics. Lastly, I learned about the extent language barriers can affect team collaborations. I had wrongfully assumed simply translating communications would fix such a barrier. It is actually much more complicated than that as a lot of emotion and implicit communication can be lost in translation. This concept is really important as no language is spoken everywhere so likely communication barriers will exist in future teams that I work on.
I would rate my current multicultural competence at a low or medium level. I feel as though I know more about other cultures than some, but I certainly have a lot of room for improvement. In the future, I plan to improve this by looking to view more international news and entertainment as well as engage more often with peers from different cultures. Additionally, I hope to study abroad later in my academic career so that I can see and experience other cultures firsthand.
Global competency is someone’s ability to interact with people from other cultures as well as their awareness of other cultures and world views. I believe individuals can do a lot to further their global competency by doing research, keeping up with world events, and speaking with people from other backgrounds. Through learning about people from around the world, particularly those different from oneself, individuals can expand their world view and increase their global competence.
A key lesson that I took away from the Cultural Map / Erin Meyer discussion was that I must be conscious of the communication styles of those that I am working with. Different cultures are more explicit with negative feedback and communication than others. Looking back on my past experiences, I realized how impactful this idea was. At sleepaway camp, we always have foreign counselors and some of them often have some trouble adjusting to American styles of feedback and customs. In particular, we have some counselors from Israel which was noted by Erin Meyer as heavily favoring explicit negative feedback. Some of the younger campers find some Israeli staff mean when really it is just their more direct feedback style. The staff have good intentions but may come off as mean when speaking with the campers. Looking back on my years as a camper, I can see that this had less to do with the individual people but rather the clash of cultural feedback styles.