Thinking Globally: Your Career Advantage
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Looking at the big picture is imperative these days, both in our personal lives and in our careers. But, too often, juggling the myriad of responsibilities of our daily lives—including racing to meet work deadlines—obstructs our view.
A focus that's too narrow is dangerous to our personal happiness, in terms of missed opportunities or wrong turns. And it’s a career killer. Not seeing the big picture can lull us into staying in a dead-end job, getting hired by a company that's unethical, or land us in a dying industry.
All organizations today need people who think and work globally.
The world’s critical issues are multifaceted and interconnected. Political leadership in Japan, eco-tourism in Africa, the debate over the euro, protests in Egypt, popular opinion in Brazil—all are issues to which we should be pay attention. They will affect the global economy—and the global economy affects both our lives and our careers.
Here are some tips for thinking globally.
- Read widely: Yes, it’s time consuming and next-to-impossible to tap into multiple news sources. But technology can help you get at least the top line on important news. Because I teach leadership communication to MBAs from all over the world, I want to stay up-to-date about what’s going on around the globe as well as in regions other than the Northeast. I have loaded my smartphone with headline services ranging from “France 24” to the LA Times, from “Fox News” to “National Public Radio,” from “The Daily Mail” to the Economist. Together, these free-of-charge, online services give me a quick, multifaceted view of the news that affects my students, my clients, and me.
- Learn another language: Even if we don’t stand a chance of becoming fluent in another language, we should be able to master some of the basics. Today’s organization is multilingual. In addition to being polite, even such simple tasks as being able to greet people and thank them in their language can promote a trusting and open relationship.
- Travel far and wide: Though it can be expensive, travel is a smart career investment as well as an adventure. For example, a multinational corporation needs employees who are eager to learn from other cultures, who know how to navigate airports and train stations, and who represent their company—and their country—with dignity and grace. In addition, exploring the United States—this huge, beautiful, diverse country—helps you work with colleagues as well as customers who live and work outside your region.
- Challenge your POV: We all have our political views, an inalienable right protected by the US Constitution. Staying open-minded on complex global and national questions is a professional advantage: It strengthens our ability to see the world from a variety of angles. So whatever your position on a particular controversial issue, let your intellectual curiosity loose and listen/watch/read opinions with which you don’t agree. You’ll learn a lot, stay intellectually strong, and rev up your ability to communicate persuasively.
–Susan Mach, PhD
Susan Mach, PhD, is a communication coach, trainer, and strategist. She teaches management communication part time at major NYC-area business schools, and investment research report writing at NYSSA.
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