Harvard ManageMentor: Global Collaboration – #7

Global leadership essentially refers to those individuals who work in more than a single cultural and/or geographic arena. Global leadership involves connecting across a wide range of boundaries, not just national and linguistic ones. There are all kinds of boundaries in the workplace (and beyond) that people need to work across, such as age, religious belief, professional group, and so on. 

The most important lessons from the Harvard ManageMentor: Global Collaboration are how to build a trust between team members, how to negotiate across cultures, and how to transcend physical distance. Trust plays a key role in every global collaboration, When teammates lack trust, collaboration suffers. I have learnt about swift trust meaning that we’re all in the same boat, success will reflect well on everyone, failure’s going to hurt everyone. In this atmosphere of swift trust, people have little choice but to trust each other. Negotiation is always a delicate business. But when the people you’re bargaining with come from a different country, cultural differences can make it even more challenging. The key point to succeed is to identify with someone else’s point of view to find common ground. In many global collaborations, participants are geographically dispersed and rarely reap the benefits of meeting face to face. Often virtual collaboration is the only viable option. Physical distance poses significant communication barriers. A good leader should try to schedule each meeting at a time that’s manageable for all participants. If it is not possible to avoid inconveniencing some participants, it is better to schedule meetings at different times so the inconvenience is shared equally.

I would rate my current multicultural competence as moderately multicultural, but I do have potential for improving. I can do this by studying the history, culture, and traditions of other countries. StudyAbroad is also a great opportunity to expand my multicultural competence. Global competence is the skills that prepare people to succeed in a more diverse, interconnected world. Global competency begins with knowledge about other cultures, histories, politics, geographies and faith. It requires the ability to understand prevailing world conditions, problems, opportunities, and trends. It equips individuals to move from learning about the world to making a difference in it. Individuals who have global competency are ready to make decisions, take action, and contribute positively to their communities in ways that are purposeful, ethical, and built on integrity.

A key lesson that I took away from the Cultural Map / Erin Meyer discussion was that it is crucial to learn about the culture you are going to work with. Different cultures have different communication styles, and it is essential to understand this. The example Erin Meyer gave was about how the team members indicated that they had a question in Japan. They do it through the ‘brightness’ of their eyes. It is necessary to be aware of and accommodate key cultural differences.

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