Guest Blogger – To Walk the Global Walk, Talk the Global Talk

blind-leading-blind 

The Walk  

The ‘walk’ refers to global development process that precedes communication. Leaders know how to attract followers.  It is the hope that they are able to lead effectively, especially leading those within their own organization, in their home countries.  But what happens when the boundaries expand abroad?  Does the level or type of leadership change?  Indeed it does. 

A key leadership attribute of the twenty-first century leader will be the ability to see the world and the workplaces with a global mindset[1]. There is a principle of relativity in culture; experience is something people project on the outside world as they gain it in a culturally determined form[2]

Leaders of organizations must learn to be global leaders when making the efforts to expand beyond the home country.  Research needs to be done; they should educate themselves about the area of interest and their cultural practices.  Having that knowledge can give a global leader the winning edge when developing staff in other areas of the world. 

With the lack of knowledge, come challenges.  Sometimes global leadership is not successful due to the minimal research and information acquired prior to organizational expansion.  It is wise for global leaders to be mindful of these potential barriers.

Acquiring personal literacy can give the global leader aggressive insight on key cultural behaviors[3]. The global leader should understand the culture to the point where he/she can almost walk in the shoes of a person who lives in the country abroad.  The global leader should: 

1)    Immerse oneself in the target culture

2)    Train future leaders as global citizens, and

3)    Involve everybody in the organization’s global strategy at the right time[4]

The Talk  

Culture is communication and communication is culture[5].  There are several modes of communication from which a global leader can choose and determine is most effective.  If the global leader is very familiar with the cultural practices of the partner country it may be easier for them to decide what works and what does not. 

For the global leader who is experiencing global outreach to a specific country for the first time, further research and opportunities to understand the culture may be required; additionally, learning through trial and error may become the platform from which the global leaders will acquire which communication strategies are most effective. 

The most important thing is to ensure that the message spoken is equivalent to the message received.  As mentioned previously, people of other countries can misconstrue the language of Westerners.  Global leaders must be aware of how receptive others are to active (direct) or passive (indirect) speech. 

Sometimes the direct speech Westerners often have is taken as rude and disrespectful in, for example, Asian cultures.  Global leaders must talk the same talk of the people in the country in which they plan to expand; otherwise, organizational failure is imminent. 

All of this to say, global leaders should learn effective ways to communicate with remote agencies in countries that are different from that of the home country.  When leaders are presented with organizational goals that are used to build or expand the organization, it becomes a greater challenge when achieve those goals may require remote modes of communication. 

Whether written, spoken or non-verbal, types and modes of communication are influenced by the culture in which we communicate. Global leaders must recognize the appropriate global walk or processes needed to maintain effective global leadership.  Also, they must utilize different ways to communicate to ensure that their businesses and organizational processes are running smoothly.  In order for leaders to walk the global walk, they have to also talk the global talk! 

What are some other ways organizations can be successful as they cross global boundaries?

ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER

JaniceArmstrong_headshot_WEB 

 Dr. Janice A. Armstrong is a leadership consultant, lifestyle coach, and owner of LiHK Consulting, LLC, based in the Washington, D.C. area. She received her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, with a focus in Leadership Coaching, from Regent University.  Her background in counseling psychology and leadership development fostered her love for leadership and lifestyle coaching. 

Dr. Armstrong provides a wealth of personal and professional development information that has been built over 18 years of training, professional, and organizational development experience. She has shared her knowledge and experiences in her book, “From the Street to the Executive Suite: Remixing Street Smarts and Life Lessons into Leadership Success.”

 

© 2013 LiHK Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved.


[1] Marquardt, M.J. & Berger, N.O. (2000). Global Leaders for the 21st century. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, p. 19

[2] Hall, E.T. (1959), p. 187

[3] Rosen, R., Digh, P, Singer, M., Phillips, C. () Global Literacies: Lessons on Business Leadership and National Cultures. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 61.

[4] Zweifel, T.D. (2003). Culture Clash: Managing the Global High-Performance Team. New York: SelectBooks, p. 72-73.

[5] Hall, E.T. (1959). The Silent Language. New York: Random House, p. 186

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15 thoughts on “Guest Blogger – To Walk the Global Walk, Talk the Global Talk

  1. What other ways can organizations be successful as they cross global boundaries?
    “Globalization cannot be treated as a matter of cloning the domestic business model everywhere” stated Ghemawat (2011) in his article which highlighted seven secrets of successful globalization. As Dr. Armsrtong mentioned in her blog, the organization has to take into consideration the cultural practices and then communicate efficiently to these global target markets. The organization has to evaluate the move based on costs, benefits and timing. They should consider perfecting there craft in the home region to maximize sales and revenues before they go global. Going global requires more time and attention to details in order to not operate at a loss. These are just a few things to consider before crossing global boundaries can be successful for organizations.

    Thank you Dr. Armstrong for taking the time to be our guest blogger and for offering your professional insight on the topic of global management and leadership.

    Reference
    Ghemawat,P. (2011) The seven secrets of successful globalization. The Wall Street Journal.
    Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/07/31/the-seven-secrets-of-successful-globalization/

  2. As Dr. Armstrong stated organizations must be able to effectively communicate, but what does that really mean? When communicating globally organizations must take into account the receiver’s culture. Different cultures act/react differently to received communication; therefore it’s important for leaders to understand the culture of their desired followers and in this case the people who the organization desires to conduct business. Far too often we believe that people understand what we are saying, when in fact they don’t have a clue and in some instances as Dr. Armstrong states view our communication as rude. So if you can’t walk in one’s shoes at least do your best to understand their culture so you know their perspective, which should provide you with the necessary awareness to formulate your communication.

    Great thoughts Dr. Armstrong..

  3. Dr. Armstrong,
    Thank you for time and professional insight! So much emerging technology has allowed many organizations the ability to go global. I think that there is an unfortunate stigma that has been attached to globalization in the past. Some feel as though organizations only go global because it is more cost-effective and that organizations choose to mistreat their employees abroad poorly. The Occurrence of Bullying in Global Organizations: A Model and Issues Associated with Social/Emotional Contagion outlines five considerations for global managers. For this post I will discuss two of them. The first being “the varying legal options for seeking a remedy to abusive bullying behavior in the workplace can vary dramatically from one country to another and the rate of change experienced in the globalization of an organization is almost unprecedented in business organizations today ” (Harvey, Treadway, Heames, 2006). Basically, this is saying that organizations do not allow time for proper development which then affects culture which causes poor treatment of employees who have little ability to change it. In summary, I think that organizations who are considering globalization must have a very durable plan in place despite the ease of currently technology. I think it is important that organizations stick to their original plan as allowed and not hurry changes that cause them to literally outgrow themselves and more success.

    Harvey, M., Treadway, D. C., & Heames, J. T. (2007). The Occurrence of Bullying in Global Organizations: A Model and Issues Associated With Social/Emotional Contagion. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 37(11), 2576-2599. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00271.x

  4. Thank you Jenelle and Rebekkah for your responses. It is indeed my pleasure to provide insight. Strategic planning is extremely necessary when branching an organization globally. The points that you both make about cost-effectiveness and, essentially, employee engagement would need to be well thought out and approach with tact over time.

    It would be detrimental to organizational leaders to trying to keep up with agencies that have more global experience and rush the process to remain ‘competitive’. Moving under these rushed conditions can cause employees to be disengaged and not supportive of the organization’s growth beyond the boundaries, nor eager to make global connections with their colleagues.

    Great job on pointing out these important issues that would need to be addressed prior to moving forward.

  5. Dr. Armstrong,
    Thank you for taking the time to be our guest blogger and give insight on this very important topic of international business. First of all, your discussion about “communication is culture and culture is communication” is among the most important aspects of global leadership. Also you touched on research, if someone is moving there business globally or is moving to an international firm they can never do too much research. The more you learn about the culture you are entering the more smoothly the transition will go and also quicker acceptance into that culture by its people. One of the more obvious boundaries that an organization would have to contend with would be the different foreign bureaucracies of a nation. “It is useful to have an advisor knowledgeable in the inner workings of other nations to guide you in these areas. Know the bureaucratic “line-up.” That is, know which agencies and bureaucracies you might have to deal with and, be prepared to deal with multiple bureaucracies as you establish and conduct your business. Understand too, that many sophisticated companies have spent extensive time working with one bureaucracy only to find out that it was not the one they needed to reach their goal.”(James D. Ronsner, 2001). I think it would be critical to have one person or several individuals on your leadership team that knows the interworkings of a countries’ policy and bureaucratic issues.

    Rosener, J. (2001). Seven barriers to successful international business. Pepper Hamilton LLP, Retrieved from http://www.pepperlaw.com/publications_article.aspx?ArticleKey=183

    • Thank you Gordon for your keen insight! You are SO correct! It would be wise to have a team member who knows the cross-cultural dynamics of the virtual workplace. Often times, jobs are filled for ‘bottoms’ to fill the seats, than a qualified person to fulfill the job! In a global workplace it is truly imperative to have that knowledgeable person to help with the work transition. It will also be cost-effective so that corporate leaders know the best approach to global leadership without losing out on greater opportunities or losing great employees.

      • Dr, Armstrong & Gordon,
        Thank you Dr. Armstrong for blogging; hearing different voices is certainly a great benefit in our education. I have been putting serious thought into pursuing the International Business concentration for my MBA at LMU. To that end I have been striving to meet with various leaders in my company’s international business efforts. When speaking with the President of International Business, one of his recommendations was to pick a region of the world in which to become an expert. I think this is what you and Gordon are both talking about when you discuss having a team leader who understands the culture and bureaucracies of a country or region. In my interview with the President, he emphasized that no one can be an expert in everywhere or everything, Further that with our company expanding internationally later than many of our competitors, we must be smarter, more strategic, and more cost effective. Having regional experts will help us to do this.

  6. Dr. Armstrong,

    Thank you taking time to give us insight into international business. It has been very helpful and hope to use some of the things you mention.

    Thank you,

    Brad Pressley

    • Thank you Brad and Dr. Tindal for the kind words. Indeed my pleasure to participate and gain insight from the respondents as well.

      Dr. Tindal, we, in the States, need to get correct means of communication in line, let alone, having the thought to branch out beyond borders to work with others. (Dr. Green, that’s a nice blog title, “Branching Out Beyond Borders”, I’m just saying 😉 ) It is so critical since we desire that those who work for us in the States are able to effectively communicate work desired,. It would be hypocritical if we didn’t take the same time to become knowledgeable about other cultures and their ideas and functions in the workplace.

  7. I had a lot of fun conversing with you all during this guest blogging opportunity. Thanks so much Dr. Green for having me! Remember: “It only takes your eyes to supervise, your hands to manage, and your mouth to delegate, but it takes your HEART TO LEAD!!” ~ Dr. Jai! Feel free to check out my website at http://www.lihkleaders.com. The relaunch is coming in April!

  8. Dr. Armstrong,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on globalization and how companies must adapt to becoming a more global universe. Culture certainly plays a significant role in companies expanding their operations in foreign countries. Forming strategic alliances with companies in other countries helps to overcome cultural and other types of barriers associated with legal and political issues.
    Marsha Neilson

  9. Dr. Armstrong,
    Thank you for sharing your insight on the topic of global leadership. The importance of effective global leadership will continue to grow in importance as companies expand globally over the next decade. Countries such as Mongolia and Iraq are forecasted to have the highest GDP growth rate through 2015, (Kawa). The desire for increased profit and return for investors will lead many domestic companies to global expansion. However, history has shown that many companies fail when attempting to enter emerging market countries. How does global expansion failure effect the company’s domestic operations? “Research has shown that the cost of a failed international assignment is more than just financial, more than just a lack of return on investment. The initial cost is compounded by the loss of time and productivity while the executive gets his/her bearings, the cost of mistakes as the executive struggles with local customs and behaviors, and the cost both personally and professionally that a failed assignment has on the executive”, (Rabotin).

    Kawa, Lucas. (2013, January 29). The 20 Fastest Growing Countries in the World. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/
    Rabotin, Maureen B. (2011). Coaching for Global Executives. Retrieved from: http://www.effectivegloballeadership.com/

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