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Practical Application: Characteristics of Global Business Managers

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Success in global business management requires specific skills. In this practical application, we'll look at some of the characteristics of global business managers and examine ways to become more aware of your strengths and challenges in that area.

Managing a Global Business

In some ways, managing a global business is very much like managing a local one. It requires vision, leadership skills, organization, and planning. I other ways, being a global business manager is very different from being a local business manager.

Specifically, there are three major characteristics of global business managers. They are outlined in detail in the lesson Characteristics of the International Manager in Global Organizations but in brief, they are:

  • Cultural awareness, which involves recognizing the differing ways that cultures communicate and the varying cultural practices and beliefs
  • Comfort with uncertainty, which describes how global managers are constantly facing new situations and uncertain futures
  • A global mindset, which requires a manager to think flexibly about business and see it from different perspectives and cultures

You can learn more about being a global business manager in the course Managing Business in a Global Environment.

Assessing Global Management

There are some questions that you can use to help you reflect on your own leadership. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I demonstrate cultural awareness? What challenges do I face in terms of cultural awareness? What do I need to do to increase my cultural awareness? What skills, resources, knowledge, or support do I need to improve in this area?
  • How comfortable am I with uncertainty? What can I do to become more comfortable with uncertainty? What skills, resources, knowledge, or support do I need to improve in this area?
  • How do I demonstrate a global mindset? What challenges do I face in terms of having a global mindset and acting accordingly? What can I do to increase my ability to think and act globally? What skills, resources, knowledge, or support do I need to improve in this area?

Analyzing Your Answers

The answers to these questions should be as specific as possible. Once you've written out your answers, take a few moments and look through them. Consider doing the following:

  • Highlight themes that you see popping up, especially in terms of what you might need to improve.
  • List out places you can go to find help developing the skills you need.
  • Look for ways to build on your strengths as a global leader.
  • List out a few actionable steps you can take today, this week, this month, and this year to improve. In other words, set some specific goals for the short, mid, and long term.

Scenarios

Every industry and scenario is different and what you experience will be unique to your career. However, let's take a look at some sample scenarios and identify which characteristics of global management the person is demonstrating successfully and which characteristics the manager needs to work on. See if you can come up with a few ideas for how the manager might better handle the situation they are facing.

Scenario 1: Growing Pains

Genie is a manager at a growing clothing company. Her company has recently expanded into a South American country. As part of the expansion, Genie decides to engage with some local vendors to provide materials for the clothes they'll be selling in South America. She realizes that this is a risk because she's never worked with these vendors before, but she is comfortable with the risk.

However, Genie soon realizes that there's a problem. In this country, business is not seen as being an urgent matter. Instead, local wisdom says that successful businesses will expand slowly over time. As a result, Genie has trouble getting a single local vendor to supply her with all the materials she needs.

Which characteristics of global management is Genie demonstrating successfully? What does she need to work on? How might she handle this situation? What might she do in the future to avoid this type of problem?

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