The Importance of Global Competency

Leadership in a global context means being able to be an effective leader even when you are working with a team that has different cultures than what you are used to. This means having an understanding of how people interact in different cultures and how business is conducted in a global context. Have a global viewpoint is important because it is becoming increasingly common to work to expand business internationally. Selling products or expanding a business in an international setting means it is crucial to have the skills to work globally. Additionally, I plan on working with companies that conduct work internationally to help diminish global issues. Conducting this type of work requires a knowledge of how respect is earned in each country you are working with. One can develop and learn about cultural differences to become a more effective leader by taking classes that educate about cultures. It is also important to watch films or read books that are based in different cultures in order to see how every day life is oriented. You could also get a mentor that is from a country you are trying to learn about so that they can tell you what is respectful and what is looked down one. One of the most interesting things I learned you could do to help educate yourself about cultures is reading about slang and jokes that are understood globally to make sure the slang you are using is not seen as offensive or misunderstood. 

One of my personal top three lessons learned from the Harvard ManageMentor: Global Collaboration guide was that it is important to understand what spectrum each country lies on when it comes to different ways of living. For example, when I did the Haller Fellowship through Pitt last summer, I learned that in Ireland, business is conducted on a more personal level whereas in America, business is conducted more professionally. In order to succeed in a country such as Ireland, it is important to personally connect with your managers by asking questions about their personal life before conducting any professional work. Another lesson I learned is that it is crucial to have a translator when conducting international work so that nothing gets lost in translation. It is extremely difficult to be fully fluent in a language you are not exposed to for a long time so having a translator that you treat with respect and work with beforehand can help make a meeting go smoothly. When using a translator, it is important to work with them on what you will be talking about in the meeting and it is important to be cognizant about how fast you are talking so that they can truly understand the information that they need to transfer. I also learned about how to acknowledge the differences when you are working with teams that work in different cultural settings. For example, if there is a team with only two international workers, it might be important to expand the international sector of the company so that those employees feel more comfortable sharing their opinions in team meetings. This will also increase how important these employees feel they are to the company which is needed to have a united team. 

After reading the article “What Makes You ‘Multicultural’” in the Harvard Business review, I analyzed my levels of cultural knowledge in three different aspects: knowledge, identity, and internalization. After analyzing my knowledge of different cultures, I concluded that I was slightly multicultural. This is because my mom was born and raised in France so I learned a lot from her about how the culture is different in France than it is in America. She taught me about proper table manners and jokes that don’t make sense to her. I also analyzed that I am monocultural when it comes to culture identity and internalization because I have never been immersed into a different culture so I have not had the chance to fully experience and understand how different cultures operate. To improve this skill set, I hope to read more about the different scales that countries fall under when using the culture map talked about in class. I also plan on watching more films that take place in different cultures so I can gain an understanding of proper behaviors and how they are different from what I observe in America. When I actually begin to travel to different countries, I will read more specific books about how to be respectful in different cultures and I may even try to get mentors to help me learn how to act. 

Global competency is being able to understand and work efficiently in a global setting. This also refers to someone’s risk taking abilities and how willing they are to immerse themselves into a culture that they are not fully comfortable with. As talked about in class, global competency can be assessed when analyzing one’s internal skills such as their self awareness and attentiveness to diversity. Global competency can also be assessed when analyzing one’s external skills such as their global awareness and collaborative experience with different cultures. I believe that individuals can improve their global competence by simply being aware of how much they know about different cultures and how much there is to learn. It can also help to travel more and increase one’s immersion in different cultures, but for people that cannot do this, education is the biggest step. 

The key lesson I took away from the Erin Meyer discussion is how different opposite cultures can really be. So many simple ways of life can be on opposite ends of a spectrum for different countries. For example, the US is a low context country which means communication is precise and clear. There are no hidden messages in statements and everything is expressed at face value. In a high context country such as Japan, communication is more advanced and messages have to be understood on a deeper level. A manager will not tell an employee exactly what has to be done but will instead expect the employee to analyze what is being implied. My reaction to how different two countries can be was eye opening to why learning about culture is so important. Something as simple as a work plan can be interpreted in two completely different ways in different countries. If communication is done between two cultures without a proper global competency, many issues could arise and there may be many instances of miscommunication and offensive behaviors. 

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