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January - 2000 - issue > Global Management
Ten Key Cross-Cultural Management Skills
Saturday, January 1, 2000

How people’s cultural backgrounds play themselves out is obvious in some ways and quite subtle in others. Appearance, names, language, accents, artifacts and shared worlds of reference are visible at once. Intangibles, however — attitudes towards time, commitments, success, status, authority, accountability, planning, negotiation, rewards, teamwork, personal boundaries and social interactions — are not immediately apparent.
To be effective as a global IT manager, you need to be aware of the major underlying cultural values that have implications for business relations and organizational functioning. The skills you need are those “soft” skills, which are, in fact, considerably harder to acquire than the “hard” technical skills. Some managers are fortunate to have innate strength in these areas, most need education and training, a few are so inept that it would be better to keep them out of crucial global management responsibilities.

Do you want to assess your ability to succeed in global management? Are you are looking to appoint someone to a key position? Are you seeking to make your multicultural teams more effective? Are you trying to define an appropriate management style for your global company? If so, pay close attention to developing the ten winning skills for managing in a culturally diverse environment:

* Self-knowledge: understanding your own cultural values and how they affect your attitudes and behaviors

* Global thinking: staying informed on global trends and events.

* Cultural curiosity: observing cultural behaviors in a non-judgmental way

* Flexibility: adapting gracefully to a wide spectrum of operational practices, business styles, and social environments

* Inclusivity: making people of different backgrounds feel at ease, understood, and valued for their perspectives

* Managing diversity: getting people who are from different backgrounds to work together effectively as unified teams

* Interpersonal communication: expressing yourself persuasively while genuinely hearing what others are communicating to you

* Motivational leadership: leading in ways that inspire employees to take responsibility and initiative, collaborate, and contribute the creativity of their differences

* Credibility: exercising integrity, openness, trustworthy behavior, and candor in all your interpersonal dealings

* Patience: working with other people’s needs and timetables, keeping your focus on long-term goals, and not wasting your goodwill capital on getting immediate results

Dr. Karine Schomer is president/principal consultant of Change Management Consulting & Training. Write to schomer@corp.siliconindia.com.

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