(Our Business Management blog today is written by GSM Employability Consultant, Chris Naughton. He takes a look at some of the challenges facing the global manager and draws some parallels with global citizenship in the early 21st century).
I have always found it interesting that an effective global manager and a good global citizen have much in common.
Here’s a definition of global citizenship, according to Citi:
Citizenship at Citi means recognizing the impact we have on the world and ensuring our business is enabling progress in the communities we serve. We focus our efforts on the promotion of financial inclusion and economic progress and the advancement of environmental sustainability. Our people are the key to these successful efforts, and we invest in recruiting and maintaining a diverse and talented workforce. Together we are working towards that simple yet powerful goal: enabling people to make progress in their lives, businesses and communities. (Citi Global Citizenship Report, 2013)
For me, three key words jump out from the above quote – (1) action: the ability to move forward and stay engaged, to get up when you fall down. This includes taking initiative, motivating others, and achieving goals; (2) thinking: the ability to question and think problems through, this obviously includes identifying problems, planning, and creative thinking and (3) teamwork: the ability to work with other people in pursuit of a common goal. This includes communication, listening, flexibility, awareness and being cooperative. The effective global manager or leader must possess these 3 attributes along with respect and curiosity for culture and language because managers operating on the global stage are routinely faced with the challenge of understanding a diverse range of people- in particular, their customs and ways of communicating.
Talking from personal experience, one way to overcome any potential cultural barriers is to maintain a standpoint that doesn’t pivot solely on your country or culture. I have spoken to many Japanese expats in London who have literally all said that their UK branch offices work fine when it is just Japanese working together, however in a global team or when working with non-Japanese, lots of problems emerge. This clearly shows a shortfall in how their global management interface is performing. It should not come as too much of a surprise to hear that a large number of Japanese companies are embarking on global initiatives to demystify their way of doing business in order to flex their global muscles further.
While going to the ‘right’ university used to be the key to secure life-time employment, today many graduates are finding it extremely difficult to find work and companies are constantly being pressured to look for performers with good attitudes and high energy (ie good citizens!), rather than just academic achievements. The blueprint for effective global management in the 21st century is both a response to and a sign of these tough times. Undoubtedly companies need people who are innovative, clear thinking and proactive, as well as positive and cooperative, to succeed as global managers and leaders. However, these abstract adjectives, like culture, can also serve as a smokescreen to hide behind- the barriers faced by the global manager remain just as challenging as for the global citizen.