Global Awareness: A Meta-competency for Global Leaders – Global awareness is crucial for maintaining peace and understanding in a globalized world. Misunderstanding and mistrust can arise from a lack of compassion or the inability to see through each other’s eyes. Becoming aware of the wider world is an important competency for business leaders and a crucial factor to further diversity and inclusion in our communities. Here are some areas where problems might arise from a lack of global awareness in a work context.
Inclusion. Today, job markets become more flexible, and societies become more culturally heterogeny. A community member may come from a different culture and have a different worldview, religion, or management style. It is important to create environments where everybody can strive, feel accepted, and appreciated. Exclusion can happen consciously or unconsciously, even when intentions are good, a lack of knowledge of how others may perceive the world around them can lead to feelings of not belonging. This will not lead to a functional society or work environment. Global awareness can help a business to better understand their workforce, clients, and other professionals they interact with. It will also foster a better environment for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Without global awareness, a business may fall behind in a globalized world.
Business culture. A client from Malaysia may be offended by the direct communication style of an American businessperson. This can lead to a misunderstanding between the two parties, ultimately maybe even resulting in a loss of the client’s business. On the other hand, a client from a culture with a direct communication style might lose patience with a salesperson from a culture where flowery, lengthy sentences are considered appropriate. Further, cultures around the world value various forms of workplace authority. While some cultures greatly value a solid hierarchical structure when it comes to levels of authority in a workplace, others prefer a flatter structure. There may also be differences in the acceptance of women in higher positions of authority. For example, it is common for employees to address their bosses by their first names in Norway. There is an extremely flat hierarchical structure, and each employee is allowed to speak their minds and give input on how the company is run. This might seem quite strange to a Korean manager who is used to more levels of power within a work context.
Red tape. There might be a difference in the bureaucracy required to complete a business deal or transaction between companies from different cultures. While some countries might have quick and modern digital solutions for these processes, others might still require a lot of paperwork and going through several chains of communication. It is also important to keep in mind that some areas of the world, such as Europe, take several weeks’ vacation from work in the summer.
How to cultivate global awareness in the workplace?
Just because global awareness has not been a strength in a certain workplace before does not mean that it cannot become one with the proper steps. Leaders and their management teams can cultivate global awareness by focusing on these key areas of improvement.
Perspective. Having the right attitude when it comes to interacting with other cultures than a person’s own is essential to cultivating global awareness. Leaders in the workplace should encourage employees to broaden their perspectives and be willing to expand their own as well. Living and working for a long time abroad will help to understand other cultures and worldviews. In preparation for the latter or as an alternative, meta-competencies such as global awareness can be nurtured by focused executive coaching sessions or cultural biases training that will help develop empathy and understanding by putting oneself into the shoes of the other.
Knowledge. Global awareness involves being educated about where another culture is coming from. Understanding what has shaped a culture historically, economically, culturally, socially, and politically can lead to better business relations. Learning about the environmental situation and attitudes in the country one is interacting with can be important too, especially if the product or service a business is offering has environmental consequences (for better or for worse).
Competence. When seeking to implement global awareness in a company, it is important to hone the employees’ skills so that they can tackle potential international problems. Competence in analyzing management approaches out of a global awareness perspective is a key investment. Training that involves cross-cultural compassion can help managers feel better equipped to confront problems out of a global understanding.
Many problems can arise from a lack of global awareness. Colleagues can become hurt and offended, customers feel disrespected. This type of environment is not conducive to good work practices, and more importantly, it does not look out for the greater good in society. Global awareness is an essential meta-competency in the globalized world we live in. It can lead to better business and a better society.