In the first part of this blog series, we established that global leaders are citizens of the world — not beholden to the identity of the country from which they originate — and that forging a shared purpose and identity across multinational teams is the critical first step in achieving unprecedented management results.
However, to establish a clear mission, leaders must be able to expertly communicate, cross-culturally, and understand the nuances of their teams — regardless of dateline or international border. This means they must speak the same universal language — sometimes literally.
The most important quality we’ve seen in defining management results for real, global leaders is a fluency in multicultural, linguistic nuances.
Until you can understand that the world occurs differently for others, based on the language one speaks and the culture they were shaped by, you can’t fully enroll people from different parts of the world in a shared purpose.
As global leaders, the most important piece of education we can provide our workforces is the capacity — or the opportunity — to be multilingual. Quite simply, multilingualism teaches people how to think differently, in light of significant cultural nuances.
Americans need their egos framed; Chinese leaders need to save face; French leaders need to ask critical questions; German leaders desire discipline, right? While these may sound like — and be dismissed as —mere stereotypes, there are real cultural nuances that must be understood and woven together to create clarity of mission and identity.
And here’s the big secret: The best leadership teams do not think of themselves in terms of their nationalities.
How so? Although they are aware of nuances, the most successful teams transcend nationalism by relating to each other out of their shared purpose and the mutual desire to achieve the goals and tasks at hand.
If you lead — or are part of — a global team, then it is critical that you take the time to create a shared purpose and a common set of principals. Otherwise, people will retreat to what they know and from that where they came. This means empowering your teams to be accountable to their mission and each other. We’ll explore this further in our next post: Global Leadership: Part III: Accountability of Teams.