With Melissa Lamson, Interviewed by Hana Al-Abadi
Q: How would you define ‘global mind-set’?
A: Global mind-set means how does one understand the way the world works today. That is; the values, behaviors, and attitudes in business and how does that impact the interactions one has with others in a professional situation. Global mind-set is the next evolution of intercultural communication and diversity because it not only emphasizes those cultural or individual behaviors but goes beyond to investigate how it logistically and tactically works in other countries. For example how are vendors selected, what are hiring practices across countries, and what are other’s expectations in making presentations.
Q: How is a global leader different from a leader?
A: Today, I don’t think there are many leaders that don’t work internationally. And I believe that all leaders need to have the perspective of being able to work and negotiate out of the country context they’re in. But what’s different from a “local leader” is that global leaders are savvy when it comes to understanding how business works around the world and they truly empathize and understand how it works across multiple country locations.
Q: What are the top 3 skills a global leader needs to acquire? Can they do this on the job or is it something that needs to be intentionally trained?
A: Global mind-set can definitely be trained but it does start with a basic premise of will. Such as do I want to understand? Do I accept the fact that I don’t know what I don’t know. So I would say the first skill would be a good global leader asks the question “what don’t I know?” The second skill would be the ability to truly listen and to empathize and ask probing questions. I sometimes say to leaders “act like an anthropologist, observe, ask questions, probe, listen, and reflect back.” The third skill would be to be able to make decisions clearly and quickly in different types of contexts because if someone is too concerned about being sensitive to other cultures, then they are too afraid to make a decision. It’s critical to get to the point, get to the result, make a decision and move on and people respect that around in the world.
Q: You have traveled to numerous countries all over the world, out of all the countries you have visited (if you can choose one) which country do you think has the best way of doing business?
A: I can’t really evaluate “best” but I do like the business practices in the Nordic countries such as Sweden. They have a very strong emphasis on equality between men and women. They really emphasize life balance. Denmark, for example, consistently gets #1 on the list for the “most content people in the world”. What I also found fascinating was when I was in India, the people have a combination of brain power, technical competence and are also amazingly good at social interaction. The combination of IQ and EQ is truly amazing to see. They are so people oriented and at the same time so incredibly smart.
Q: What about communication best practices? Is there a country or culture that excels in business communication?
A: It sounds a bit biased, but I do like the speed and convenience in the way the U.S. communicates in business. I think it’s a strength that they take risks, quickly make decisions and move on. I also very much respect the fact that Germany will look at a problem from several different angles so that they understand something thoroughly before they take action.
Q: What is one tip that you don’t hear about doing business globally that would help executives improve their global business interaction?
A: Leaders generally have a team that work for them – handlers, if you will – and it’s very important that that team is globally savvy. If leaders surround themselves with people like that, then they will look more competent in their messaging, scheduling, way of interacting. The first thing I would do as a leader is assess my entire team – the inner circle working for me – and ensure they know how the world works.
Find out more on Global Mindset and Global Leadership and what leaders need to do to develop both: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXyRadt4Pg8