Global business is rapidly becoming the new norm, yet leadership is not keeping pace with this growth. One study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity actually found that global leadership development efforts have declined in a time when organizations are increasingly working with global partners.

The ability to successfully manage a business across borders where there are different societal, cultural, political, economic, and legal norms and systems cannot be overstated. Without it, you and your organization are destined to fall behind.

But even if you don’t have a program in place to develop global leadership skills, there are actions you can take right now to help you and your leaders successfully navigate in multiple environments to achieve your organization’s goals.

Here 5 ways to be an effective global leader in 2016:

Live and travel abroad. Leaders need to experience what it’s like to live and exist in another country. As noted in the Harvard Business Review, this experience will help them appreciate cultural differences, incorporate what they learn into their work lives, and build networks of global relationships. The best global leaders are those that are comfortable in different cultures and understand the nuances of doing business outside their home country. Not to mention, living abroad, and seeing and experiencing new and different things can lead to a more fulfilling and enriched life.

Have an open mind. Global leaders have the ability to accept that a particular situation may not be like anything they’re familiar with. They recognize that what works well in one culture could be unintentionally alienating in another, causing a rift between a manager and his or her team. They adapt their approach to specific dynamics and are able to mirror the shifting standards of multiple regions. This style of leadership is also known as Situational Leadership. For more about this approach, view my blog post on Situational Leadership.

Be inquisitive. The best global leaders are curious about anything and everything new and different. They ask questions of their teams, customers, clients, and partners and put aside opinions and criticisms. They’re eager to learn, and listen more than they talk.

Be flexible. The global business world is comprised of varying perspectives and ambiguity.
A global leader is comfortable with this and is responsive to true differences in problem-solving among countries. They have the ability to learn from mistakes and to balance shorter and longer term objectives.

Be self-aware. Effective global leaders know their management style and how it might be received by different cultures. For example, most of us have experienced both the micromanaging boss and the hands-off boss. In some cultures, teams will expect a manager to keep a tight rein and will feel abandoned by a boss who allows more independence. Other cultures are the opposite. Other differences to be aware include how decisions are made, how recognition is given, how feedback is given and how time is viewed. For more on this, visit here.

As businesses continue to expand and wrap around the globe, the gulf of truly developed leaders widens. Today’s successful businesses need managers who can think, act and lead globally. Are your leaders and your organization prepared?

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