5.2 Global Leadership
EGL Newsletter Volume 5.2
Ten years ago, we were talking about what it takes to work around the world and were exploring the cultural diversity and education required. For most of the people with whom I worked, it was a concept that seemed to be on the horizon. Now, most of my clients have the word Global somewhere in their title or job description. Beyond that, as we look at the implications of the earth on which we live, we are all being faced with more pressing issues that are truly global in nature.
Even still, there are few consistent definitions of what that means. Most common and obvious are the expressions that we are working 24/7 all around the world. This does little to guide a leader in how they work with their global organization, and at its worst, has them throwing out their circadian rhythms and working from 4 in the morning till midnight, trying to manage in the same ways they have when their organization was in fewer time zones.
Some of the bigger implications of global lie in the cross-cultural nature of the work. We deal with people who have significantly different filters of the world. Due to the inherent nature of perception, the world that they see has many different aspects. Remember that we work with people who speak different languages, meaning there is a different representational system of the world, pray to different gods, and have different economic value systems. These are just some of the big ones. We also know that in most cross-cultural situations, it is usually not the big differences that can become problems, but the small ones that go somewhat unnoticed.
It is essential that the global leader understands how to enter and build rapport and uses this to expand their empathic abilities. Developing emotional intelligence is a real key to crossing cultural boundaries. While our brains may speak a different language, our limbic systems do not. In research around emotions, we find that the basic emotions of love, fear, disgust, and anger are recognized across cultures. What is different is the Ladder of Inference that has been built in that environment. So, the global leader will spend time learning to connect with the humanity of the people they are leading.
A larger level of leadership at a global level is an understanding of the larger system implications of our actions. Corporate leaders are having as much impact across countries as our political systems, and in many cases, far more. How will you develop the large system sensitivity to begin to understand the economic, social, and environmental implications of the work you do at a global level?
The one thing we must find is our positive global intention that we can carry with us when we are planning our global activities. We can talk to many people to understand what our impact is from multiple perspectives. We can create communities of awareness that have at their core a desire for positive change in the world, at a global level.