With the dramatic growth of international business, leaders and professionals who have global mindset are in high demand. This is also in part due to the fact that over the past three decades, the value of exports across the world has increased from $2 trillion to $18 trillion, and half of them come from emerging markets. As a result, the number of people working outside of their company head offices in foreign subsidiaries has increased from 25 million to 81 million. As a consequence, 76% of executives surveyed by the United Nations Global Compact say that it is important for companies to develop global leaders.
You cannot rely on your company to expand your global footprint. If you desire to become a global leader you will need to adopt a do-it-yourself mindset and pursue projects and assignments that deepen your international knowledge.
Teach yourself to think globally
- Cultivate a curiosity about how places operate. Ask questions repeatedly. Do not assume that you know the answers.
- Formal education – in world history, economics, international affairs, politics and international business – helps you broaden your perspective. Informal study is also important – international literature, keeping up-to-date with international news.
- Bring out the best in people. Regardless of where people are from, the language that they speak. Respect and explore other cultures, welcome new experiences and seize opportunities to work with people of other nationalities.
- Develop empathy. Learn about the issues that matter to people in other cultures.
Take action to become a global thinker
- Grow your international network. Cultivate contacts and friends across national and cultural boundaries. Attend local international events and conferences that interest you. You are bound to meet international connections at these events. Start by adding value to them and not by asking for help.
- Find local international visitors. Ask influential people in your local network if they could introduce you to international business leaders that might be in their network. Connect with international workers who are currently working in your division. Attend professional events that increase your chance of meeting with international visitors.
- Actively seek projects to collaborate with diverse cultures. Join teams that include members who are from different groups.
- Travel internationally. Initially you might have to fund your own international trips. Accept an invitation by a local partner to attend a local get-together or social outing. Visit a museum or attend a cultural event.
Acquiring the international knowledge is just the beginning of your journey to becoming a global leader. After you have built the competencies you need, you now need to put this knowledge into use for your organization and yourself.