Q: Why should consultants consider global partners?
A: Going global has many advantages. Among them is developing cultural intelligence, which helps one gain interpersonal communication skills by working with multicultural teams. Moreover, cultural intelligence helps one develop desirable global leadership and decisionmaking skills.
Cultural intelligence is the ability to adapt and adjust to the global environment. One way to learn these skills and, with time, gain competency in this area is being exposed to and interacting with other cultures. This is becoming an area of greater importance as the world changes at a faster pace and generates more risks and vulnerabilities. By developing cultural intelligence, one also gains interpersonal trust because connections are taken to another level of understanding and appreciation.
Global exposure also creates new learning that sticks with you. By becoming a lifelong learner and increasing your global exposure, including speaking other languages, individuals become more complex. Some studies have shown how professionals from foreign countries are, in many cases, more adept at integrating complexity. They are constantly navigating multiple cultures. They can connect ideas that may not be apparent to others and spark innovation and new solutions.
Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey in their book, “Immunity to Change,” focus on human complexity and change and explain that what will distinguish innovative leadership from conventional leadership is the ability to adapt and change. Change is hard and it takes time, but it can be done.
One piece of advice to consultants and leaders is to prepare for global partnerships well in advance, seeking out experts and partners from the countries you desire to work with. The best way to accelerate global learning and cultural intelligence is learning from others you trust who can help you navigate situations. It is also important to understand the subject matter well in the countries you are pursuing partnerships with, as it’s easy to make mistakes. Also, don’t assume one nation is like another; embrace and acknowledge its uniqueness. Prepare, connect, enjoy and grow!
Marcella de la Torre teaches courses at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.