Developing Global Competence (GC) makes you more effective and comfortable when working with people from different cultures. Working well with people who are different is a challenge for most of us because differences upset our expectations and trigger inappropriate emotional reactions. Inaccurate expectations can also create self-fulfilling prophecies that spiral downward into misunderstandings and conflict.
GC is the knowledge and skill set that successful people use to maintain their own well-being while responding resourcefully to the challenges that come with working cross-culturally. GC allows them to cooperate with a wide variety of different people around the world in a mutually satisfactory way.
People who are high in GC know two things that the globally inexperienced do not. First, while it is true that people who are most different from us are the most difficult to work with, they also have the most to teach us. Second, we are prone to fall into a “trap of similarity” and miss subtle but significant differences when working with people who are more similar to us. As Winston Churchill famously remarked, “England and the United States are two countries divided by a common language”. People who know how to spot and skillfully deal with differences perform better and experience less stress.
This is true for both individuals and teams. People and organizations high in GC are able to effectively harness their diversity to attain collective intelligence and sustain high performance over the long haul. While it is difficult to put a price tag on the value of GC, its lack produces glaring results:
- Loss of credibility and poor reputation
- Unsatisfactory relationships and poor teamwork
- Poor performance and reduced productivity
- Loss of international sales and unsuccessful negotiations
- Higher than usual turnover
- Rancorous disputes and failed joint ventures.
Whether you are an expatriate on overseas assignment, a business traveler who must work with other cultures or the member of a global team, taking the time and energy to develop your GC is an investment that will pay dividends for the rest of your life. It will also make you a better, more well-rounded person.
Greg has been a great help in training our teachers. Their work with immigrants from many different cultures is made much easier thanks to the awareness and knowledge that Greg imparts in his trainings. His training is always one of the highlights of the teacher training curriculum and they are always inspired and delighted by the insights into cultural differences he provides. Lee Shainis – Executive Director, Intercambio Uniting Communities