Working GlobeSmart: 12 People Skills for Doing Business Across Borders

Working GlobeSmart: 12 People Skills for Doing Business Across Borders

by Ernest Gundling
Whether working on a virtual team that spans the globe or in a multicultural workplace in your own community, this field guide to global citizenship details what it takes to add value to the business of global enterprise.


Whether working on a virtual team that spans the globe or in a multicultural workplace in your own community, this field guide to global citizenship details what it takes to add value to the business of global enterprise.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While the idea of a global village where people and markets seamlessly commingle is attractive, actually doing business across borders can be tricky. Gundling, an Asia specialist at the management consulting firm Meridian Resources Associates, sets out to light the way for those venturing into international waters. Gundling knows his stuff: the book is dense and detailed, with anecdotes on handling all manner of situations, from dealing with a Turkish subordinate to evaluating a Russian executive. It lacks literary flair, proceeding in an exceedingly workmanlike fashion instead of pulling readers in with rich narratives. It's an invaluable primer, though, in reminding executives that doing business abroad is more about people skills than anything else. Nuanced issues of culture and tradition are often what's behind communication breakdowns, so knowing how to behave and interact in foreign climes is what will launch readers beyond what the author derides as "cruise ship globalism" and help them arrive at a truly global understanding. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Global business is increasing dramatically and along with it, the cross-border friction that emerges when there are misunderstood or ignored cultural differences. Though every destination provides new hazards for mistakes, Ernest Gundling, an expert in strategic global approaches to leadership development, organizational change and innovation, explains that the challenges you will encounter are relatively predictable and easily anticipated.

The single greatest cause of difficulties in global business transactions is lack of appropriate people skills for relating to counterparts from other countries and cultures. In Working GlobeSmart, Gundling outlines the 12 fundamental skills managers need if they intend to move across borders and succeed. Not simply a list of culturally specific customs and behaviors, Working GlobeSmart presents a general set of behaviors spanning interpersonal, group and organizational skills. According to Gundling, managers, especially American managers, who can understand why these skills are important and incorporate them into their business dealings - whether in South America, Europe or Asia - will find that partners across the globe are more likely to respond and work together to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Global People Skills
Managers frequently underestimate the importance of global people skills to business. The model in Working GlobeSmart includes 12 competencies that include interpersonal, group, and organizational skills. Gundling writes that they must be well integrated throughout your organizational culture, because the value of your products, either at home or abroad, will decrease without the people skills to back them up.

Failures in global business are more insidious than acute. They seem small, but as they build up, they become lethal. Gundling writes that expecting others to speak one's own language; assuming everyone is eager to adopt your ways; and not taking the time to establish effective relationships abroad can all undercut plans that have been carefully strategized at home.

Generalizations about a national culture can be helpful in anticipating how people will act in unfamiliar settings, Gundling explains, but it is improper to apply stereotypes to an entire nationality that is most likely as varied culturally and ethnically as your own. By inquiring about another culture, identifying its contribution, learning its core values and attendant behavior, and understanding the gaps between you and the average profile of the other culture, he writes that you can predict areas of potential conflict both with business partners and your own personal limits.

Interpersonal Skills
Global skills are built on a foundation of strong personal relationships, but these relationships can take time and have many facets. According to Gundling, establishing credibility, handling feedback, obtaining information, and evaluating people are all critical interpersonal skills that international managers must develop when they work in another culture.

Gundling points out that often those with good people skills at home make the wrong choices abroad. The most common trap is to evaluate people positively on the basis of language skills when they are deficient in managing subordinates or working with customers. He says you must learn local standards so that you can discern when conduct that signals competence in your own environment has a different significance.

Group Skills
Beyond working one-on-one, so much of business relies on teamwork. Gundling explains that the problems of culture become magnified with each new person or culture that is added to the group. Working on global teams, training and development, selling and negotiating all need to be approached differently than they would be at home.

Organizational Skills
Once you have internalized these people skills and developed an awareness of the differences between your nation culture and that of your overseas partners, Gundling writes that you must determine how to adjust and accommodate your corporate culture to the business arena abroad as well.

As international managers head out to become global citizens they must consider how they will be changing the world, Gundling explains. Does the foreign country want the changes you bring? Should it have them? As values around the world change, he writes that the best place to initiate change is where local customers and employees desire it or are open to it. Rather than national international managers, he adds, the world needs global citizens who can easily move from one culture to another. He writes that they encompass the core items of trust, respect and listening, but also participating in meaningful work, profit, integrity, social justice, environmental sustainability, mutual learning, and personal and professional growth. Global citizens transcend the dichotomies of parent and subsidiary and home and host country. As the ratio of overseas to domestic revenue shifts dramatically, he explains that companies will need employees who can recognize local customer needs, weight them against the organization's strategic priorities, and invest valuable resources in the best interest of the company. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Product Details

Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.53(w) x 9.37(h) x 1.18(d)

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