Category Archives: Global leaders

Why employers value intercultural skills


New research shows that employers around the world value staff who understand the role of culture at work. Source: www.britishcouncil.org

What do employers understand by ‘intercultural skills ?

  1.  Ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints.
  2.  Respect for others’ and ‘adapting to different cultural settings
  3.  Accepting cultural differences
  4.  Speaking foreign languages
  5.  Open to new ideas and ways of thinking

 How do employers evaluate job candidates for intercultural skills?

  1. Strong communication throughout the interview and selection process
  2. The ability to speak foreign languages
  3. Demonstration of cultural sensitivity in the interview
  4. Experience studying overseas
  5. Experience working overseas

 What Is Your Company Doing To Develop Intercultural Skills ? 

See on Scoop.itInternational Career

Where are you really from ? An Expat Perspective On Racism


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I found the question in this article very interesting:   Is It Racist to Ask People Where They’re From?
As an expat, I am asked all the time where are you really from ?  and I usually have different answers for different audiences. However to many expats, they don’t feel comfortable with this question especially if they have been living in a foreign country for quite a long time and interpret the question as obviously you are not from there, you are different.
After 25 years of expatriation, I still have some mixed feelings about this question but sometimes it is good to feel different and not from “here”.  Being a French in France is actually harder for me than living abroad, I don’t know anything about popular TV shows or the secret lives of French politicians and I have often a very different view on sensitive questions as I am living on the “other side”.
When I lived in Japan in the 90s I obviously did not look Japanese and I have been asked frequently where I was from, but at that time, being French and saying I was from Paris, were magic words and I was very well treated both at work and with perfect strangers in the streets. I was kind of “exotic” there. However Caucasians were better treated than non-Japanese Asians, especially Chinese, Koreans or Filipinos.
In the US, when I lived in New York City and 8 months pregnant, strangers were giving me a “god bless you” very often, then we had the 9/11 dramatic events and my son was born 12 days later. However I got unpleasant remarks when I said I was French because at that time the French president and the government refused to send troops to Baghdad as if I had anything to do with this decision.
Altogether I had a very positive experience in NYC. I also lived in Atlanta and we were very well-integrated partly because of my son being at the Atlanta International School but generally speaking, Atlanta is a very international city. However I was shocked to see that nothing really changed since Martin Luther King Jr, I saw a lot of segregation between African-Americans and White Americans. Each community including Latin American people had their own neighborhood with very strict boundaries. I then realized that America was far from being a melting pot !
Then we spent one year in New Jersey and it was painful to have in the neighborhood listing “the French” instead of our family name.
Now we live in Russia, I don’t have any specific problems with racism, the “where are you from? ” is still there since my Russian is pretty basic but unlike the stereotypes, I find Russians very courteous with men giving their seats to women in the Metro for example. But here again even for wealthy expatriates,  it is better to be a Caucasian than having a dark skin color.

How do you feel about being asked : where are you really from ?

Related Article:  Encountering racism abroad — or why I sometimes wish I was white

What Does Interculturality Mean ?


 

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A number of studies on the development of intercultural skills and competences have shown that first-hand experience of ‘otherness’ and even sojourns in a foreign country are not sufficient conditions to foster interculturality.

Both study abroad and intercultural education literature state that, in addition to experience, intercultural learning needs reflection and analysis, and that immersion in a different culture does not in itself reduce stereotypical perceptions of otherness.

Interculturality does not mean comparing two or more countries, nor learning to adapt to a specific ‘national culture’.

Rather, the concept implies, for example:

  • Understanding how different types of identities (eg gender, age, racial, ethnic, national, geographical, historical, linguistic) impact on communication with others
  • Interpreting what people say about their culture as evidence of what they wish others to see about themselves, rather than as the ‘truth’ about a particular culture
  • Exploring the role of power in dominant discourses (media, political, institutional) and reflect on how these discourses affect the way we perceive people from other backgrounds.

Read Full article : Mobility is not a value in itself: intercultural education resources for mobile students – European Association for International Education

Related articles: 

 

 

Intercultural Communication at Work


See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

In this globalised world, communicating in intercultural contexts is not as easy as it may seem…

Anne Egros‘s insight:

When you don’t understand someone’s behavior in intercultural context, ask questions, don’t guess through your own perception.

Be aware of your own cultural bias is a good start then listen to other people and notice similarities or differences on how messages are perceived and understood by making sure there is no misinterpretation either in words, voice tone or body language.

Good demonstration at the end of this article using Anglo-Dutch Translation Guide.

See on www.spaces.nl

 

Find the Coaching in Criticism


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Image from Forbes Magazine: The Best Gift Leaders Can Give: Honest Feedback

Read original article “Find the Coaching in Criticism” from by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone HBR Magazine, March 2014

Anne Egros‘s insight:

Learnings from the article:

What makes receiving feedback so hard? The process strikes at the tension between two core human needs—the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are. As a result, even a seemingly benign suggestion can leave you feeling angry, anxious, badly treated, or profoundly threatened. A hedge such as “Don’t take this personally” does nothing to soften the blow.

The skills needed to receive feedback well are distinct and learnable. They include being able to identify and manage the emotions triggered by the feedback and extract value from criticism even when it’s poorly delivered.

Six Steps to Becoming a Better Receiver

1. Know your tendencies

2. Disentangle the “what” from the “who”

3. Sort toward coaching

4. Unpack the feedback

5. Ask for just one thing

6. Engage in small experiments

After you’ve worked to solicit and understand feedback, it may still be hard to discern which bits of advice will help you and which ones won’t. We suggest designing small experiments to find out. Even though you may doubt that a suggestion will be useful, if the downside risk is small and the upside potential is large, it’s worth a try.

See on hbr.org

Related article:

The Best Gift Leaders Can Give: Honest Feedback

 

Is Empathy Bad For CEOs ? The Psychopath Advantage


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When I read this article, questioning the value of empathy for good leadership, I thought it was good food for thought as it is challenging the status quo. Nowadays it is almost considered blasphemy to dismiss empathy and other “people skills” as good CEOs’ personality traits

According to Brad Stone, a journalist and author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon Amazon is very prosperous despite the fact that its CEO, Jeff Bezos, lacks empathy and as a result, treats workers as expendable resources without taking into account their contributions.

It seems that some successful CEOs not only have no empathy but sometimes have many traits shared by psychopaths according to a Forbes’ article focused on the research of British journalist Jon Ronson Why (some) psychopaths make great CEOs

Psychopaths lack the things that make you human: empathy, remorse, loving kindness. According to Ronson, the incidence of psychopathy among CEOs is four times what it is in the general population.

study, conducted by the New York psychologist Paul Babiak, suggests that psychopaths are actually poor managerial performers but are adept at climbing the corporate ladder because they can cover up their weaknesses by subtly charming superiors and subordinates. This makes it almost impossible to distinguish between a genuinely talented team leader and a psychopath, Babiak said.

Where greed is considered good and profit-making is the most important value, psychopaths can thrive. (Quote from TIME.Com)

Regarding lack of empathy as a weakness, the argument seems logic when there is job scarcity during an economic crisis and when the CEO’s main job is to do massive layoffs and cut expenses to maximize shareholder value. 

But how about companies that need to innovate to strive, don’t they need collaborative leadership and therefore need bosses who have empathy ?

Considering Steve Jobs or Jack Welch, known for not being especially empathetic,  it seems that empathy is not mandatory to be a successful CEO even in innovation-driven companies.

In conclusion, I think empathy may not be necessary only when leaders have to manage-up with little interactions with people who do the jobs dealing with customers on a daily basis, especially when the impact of the employees cannot be seen immediately on the bottom line. I do think that disengaged and threatened employees cost more in the long run even without considering lawsuits.

What Is your Experience ?

How Did You Manage A Boss Who Lacked Empathy ?

Related articles:

Bilingualism and biculturalism are related, but they are not the same thing.


See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Anne Egros‘s insight:

A very much-needed explanation on the distinction of bilingualism and biculturalism.

For example, too often managers are chosen for their abilities to speak the local language but someone can have a better cultural sensitivity and be  more successful without speaking the local language.

Here more about empirical evidences that languages can shape behaviours but cannot make you multicultural :

Related articles:

See on bilingualkidsrock.com

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