Leadership

Q. What is the most critical asset for a leader of today to have?
A. The ability to deal with different cultures. In business, for example, with so many companies going global, with company teams being being scattered all over the planet, a firm understanding of the client culture, no matter which one, China, India, you must understand how to negotiate, operate, construct, whatever is demanded, from and within their cultural context. It is necessary for success to understand and motivate people who look at the world and function in it (successfully), very differently from you. No easy task!! But essential for success. So, a leader must be prepared to deal with teams who are multicultural and who do not think nor see the world through your eyes. A true leader must be able to see the world through the clients eyes!

Q. If you are assigned as a team leader in a foreign culture in lets say an emergency situation AND you or your company is viewed skeptically, what is the best advice going in?

A. When going in an enviornment you don’t know at all the first step is to listen, listen, listen!!!!
Listen and interact with many people and many different levels. Then analyze your impressions and findings from hard data. Make tentative diagnosis the listen, interact and analyze a second if possible. Establish a diagnosis and from that develop a tentative plan of action.

Q. Can anybody do this?

A. Yes and no. It demands someone of strong and pure character who is willing to break away from the past at all levels to motivate change. It could be a connected (one inside the organization)person or most likely someone from outside the organization…one w/ fresh eyes, untainted by the culture but also one who understands it and if understanding is lacking, one who can listen openly.

Q. Does one who is raised in a multicultural enviornment have an edge/advantage over one who has not had that experience?

A. Most definitely! In many ways it is fundamental. It’s similar to learning a language when you are a child…you develop a mastery of that language that you cannot achieve when you learn a language as an adult. Like learnign to play and instrument as a child. Mr. Suzuki used this knowledge to develope the legendary Suzuki violin teaching method for kids. Being in a multicultural enviornment as a child intuition, reflexes and instincts. You may acquire basic responsiveness later on, but it is never going to be as spontaneous as when one has existed and functioned inan enviornment during childhood.

This report was inspired and in many instances paraphrased from a print news media publication. It is from an interview with CEO of Nissan Carlos Ghosn.

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