"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse.” Hapsburg Emperor Charles V
“Nationalism: An infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” Albert Einstein
“As a traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his doorstep, so a knowledge of one’s culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.” Margret Mead, American cultural anthropologist.
Globally more executives are now living internationally for assignments or education for extensive periods. These are a talented pool of highly educated multilingual people who have their world views influenced by multifacetedness of two or more cultures.
The cultural nuances in my habits were not jarringly visible to me. However, when I moved to work internationally 18 years ago,(though could not completely understand it then) I did feel a loss of identity as I tried to adjust to the transformation.
Soon I got my first and most important lesson as a global nomad from a friend who was years senior to me. She said that instead of struggling with myself I would be alright if I were rooted in the ground I was standing on…I did just that as I tried my best to be present and connected to the moment while I let the diversity of a new place take me into a silent inner journey that has developed my strengths. These were honed as I have felt ‘different,’ misunderstood and very often indefinable. Since then I have moved to four countries and six cities, and I can say that being a global citizen has been my highest qualification and has given me the creative edge.
Internationally mobile executives bring with them advantages to the organisation. These are four benefits of leaders with global mindset:
Handle change well: A serial expat nonchalantly once told me that home is where they hang up their curtains. For the globally mobile, change is a norm. They are experts at handling subtle emotional aspects that change brings. These Global Cosmopolitans are motivated by diverse experiences; that create a coping mechanism that is less rigid. With more fluidity, in their interactions, they are tapping into their values, resilience, and depth of reflection to deal with the challenges of the transitional space.
Ability to reinvent themselves: Reinventing oneself as a professional is an uncomfortable journey as this is often the result survival skill in a new culture with its socio-political undercurrents. Social psychologists believe that global citizens have a high adaptive capability. They learn that the rewards of changing the are much greater than the risk. As they set goals, adapt and achieve self-efficacy evolves giving confidence.
Being bridges: Most global executives are networking pros. Quicker connections are essential to avoid social and professional isolation. They work with multiple and diverse networks that span the world. They develop skills that help them learn languages and cultures to a shorten the ’settlement phase’ of the move. Those who are pros and the multi-country living may wear hats of being a diplomat and a negotiator and sometimes even a translator. The ability to listen to all sides without judgment, with understanding multiple approaches and diverse perspectives they help build bridges in a global context.
Observational capacity: Recently an American consultant was talking about cultural nuances mentioned how in Japan and China often the most powerful person in the room is the quietest. In boundary-less, organizations globally competent executive is a sharp observer. He or she understands cultural nuances and can use multiple lenses. As an outsider, he or she can step back and observe and yet be able to participate.
As more organizations are choosing diversity as the antidote to enthocentricity, more opportunities are available to individuals who are open to multicultural and multinational exposure. Firms that are successful as multinational have an organizational culture that values diversity. Such organizations may have a sizable number of employees; the board is represented by non-home-country executives; here global experience is considered essential for career success. Global experience is the way to go if you are looking for growth, learning and developing a creative professional brand for yourself.
What does it take to be a global executive? Ask yourself these questions:
Why do I want these experience? Can I list three reasons on why you would like to take up a global role?
Am I comfortable in culturally ambiguous situations?
Am I prepared welcome my evolving self after these experiences?
Am I open to who I may be?
Who else is paying the price of this lifestyle(family/partner)?
How can I support them through the transitions?
What are the stable values I want to keep close to me as a part of my personality as I let the world mold me?