I watch and listen. Industry leader Yasir Abulrahman was sharing with my undergraduate class an overview of cross-cultural interests as they related to operating a business in the Middle East. Yasir, who has Middle Eastern roots himself, explained how some U.S. managers went abroad on work assignments without understanding cultural sensitivity.
Sadly, these managers underestimated the problems associated with continental differences. Yet, most companies cannot afford to make these international debacles. Can you? This article examines how individuals can position themselves with greater employability by acquiring the necessary global competencies for the future.
Globalization is a reality that’s not going away. Having the right management strategy can elevate a country’s financial well-being. India and China flex their mighty muscle due to the dominance of their outsourcing efforts. Thus, globalization provides a disruptive change to established paradigms.
The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Report has been monitoring global trends across two decades. In the Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report, the study outlines the global landscape ahead for millions of unsuspecting international participants. For example, individual employment will accelerate due to poverty reduction, growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, widespread use of new communications and manufacturing technologies, and health-care advances.
Yet, power will shift to networks and alliances in a multipolar world. The U.S., European, and Japanese share of global income is projected to fall from 56% today to well under 50% by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe in global power; China will probably have the largest economy.
Countries coming into prominent include India, Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey. Leadership consultants Ernest Gundling, Karen Cvitkovich, and Terry Hogan understand the challenges faced by organizations attempting to go global: “…the years ahead will most probably bring discontinuous events that cannot be accurately predicted based strictly upon extrapolations from the present, as with unanticipated and transformative events of recent years such as armed conflicts, terrorism, financial crises, piracy, epidemics, and environmental disasters precipitated by either natural or human causes.”
Going global is not an easy process. Countries attempt to invest more into their education system in order to better manage their own talent management system. Countries seek to find strategic gaps. For example, foreign countries now hold more than $12 trillion in U.S. assets, including stocks, bonds, real estate, and more financial elements. In fact, Japan and China are very motivated to support the American dollar so that Americans will continue to buy their goods, thus keeping their citizens working. However, some executives feel that going global is the same as domestic business. It isn’t. In the 2012 Quarterly McKinley report, author Pankaj Ghemawat pointed out the weaknesses of global competency for business.
According to a research study of senior executives, 76% believe their organizations needed to develop global leadership capabilities; yet, only 7% of them thought they were currently being effective. At a low scale, companies attempt to search for this talent with a lens of also attracting more cheap labor.
In fact, multinational businesses search the world for the best talent to fill their vacancies; some executives hope they can find the next Steve Jobs of Apple. Therefore, professionals need to equip themselves with the necessary skills to be marketable in a global environment. American companies realize they can ensure future profitability by marketing products and services abroad.
Global competencies will better secure the future for many. Thirty percent of U.S. companies acknowledged that they had failed to exploit their international business opportunities fully due to insufficient internationally competent staff. Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, explains that even with over 23 million people unemployed, companies argue they cannot find qualified workers.
Cappelli further notes that employers are looking for specific talent. Moreover, Marshall Goldsmith, Cathy Greenberg, Alastair Robertson, and Maya Hu-Chan, author of Global Leadership: The Next Generation, utilized a 2-year accenture study of over 200 global organizations to produce a general framework for global leadership. The five global competencies included global thinking, appreciation of diversity, technological savvy, a willingness to partner and an openness to sharing leadership. In the past, CEOs did not consider the importance of global leadership competencies. The reality of globalization has changed this mindset. In order to build these necessary competencies, the following strategies are provided:
- Obtain global awareness (i.e., daily environmental scanning).
- Become fluent in a foreign language.
- Seek coaching and/or mentoring with global leaders.
- Participate in study abroad programs or find cultural immersion opportunities.
- Search for international job assignments.
- Take global leadership/global management at a local university.
- Participate in diversity training in your local community.
- Treat individuals fairly and with respect.
- Seek ways to work with a diverse team/organization.
- Conduct research, writings and publications on global issues.
Uncertainties and high risks will continue to plague businesses that seek to conduct business abroad. As the article has demonstrated, executives are in a quagmire due to the lack of sufficient international experience among current employees. Management Strategist C.K. Prahalad notes, “This world is one beset with ambiguity and stress. Facts, emotions, anxieties, power and dependence, competition and collaboration, individual and team efforts are all present…Managers have to deal with these often conflicting demands simultaneously.”
Rather than panic, employees and the unemployed should view international turbulence as unfiltered, innovative opportunities. Therefore, individuals who are prepared can position themselves with greater employability by acquiring the necessary global competencies for the future.
© 2015 by Daryl D. Green