Through CEMS we aim to prepare the next generation of global leaders, so that they are able to thrive in the increasingly complex international workplace.
In my personal and professional experience I have observed many people with an expanded world view, who have traits likely to be attractive to global companies.
Firstly, when you work for a global company, you must learn to operate in a complex and ambiguous environment. Often organisations operate across multiple countries and engage with a wide range of cultures but, like all businesses, they are also dealing with individual personalities. It seems sensible, therefore, that the employees must have a good global understanding in addition to a high level of emotional intelligence.
It is also important for employees to be able to have the skills to master the international world through simplification and clear solutions. At the same time, exposure to ambiguity and developing a tolerance for it, becoming accustomed to rapid change and learning to see things from multiple perspectives are all attributes of someone with a truly international outlook who will be able to thrive within a global company.
Four key traits
Here are four traits which I believe can help employees to stand out and thrive within a global company. If you possess these, or are able to develop them over time, it is likely to stand you in good stead for a successful international career:
- An expanded world view – You need to clearly understand that clashing cultural perspectives and worldviews exist, that each perspective is reasonable in its own right, and how the competing perspectives fit as pieces of the puzzle into a larger whole. People with such an expanded world view are likely to be good at negotiation and relationship forming in the global business arena
- Expanded creativity – Possessing a strong understanding of different cultures, and the integration of these cultures, is important because it in turn will lead to expanded creativity. Research has shown that when people identify with both their home and host cultures they’re more likely to be creative than if they are completely assimilated (i.e. identify with the host culture only) or if they are separated (i.e. identify with the home culture only).
- Adaptable & non-judgmental –Much like a chameleon, adaptable people they will quickly observe the environment and immediately switch language and/or behaviours to match that local environment. Can you comfortably switch back and forth between different approaches depending on the cultural context?
- Fast relationship-building – When people are not going to stay in the host country for the long-term, it’s important they are able to develop relationships at speed. The most successful global employees will be able to move through the initial stages of small talk and fast forward to connecting at a deeper level, which means they have high potential to successfully lead international teams and do business globally.
In my experience, being a person with these traits makes you perfectly suited to quickly develop into a true global employee and leader.
Roland Siegers is Executive Director of CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education. CEMS is a a global alliance of 30 of the world’s leading business schools – including the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta – 74 multinational companies and 7 NGOs that together offer the CEMS Masters in International Management (MIM).