Technology has revolutionized the world. It has removed barriers between political and social boundaries. Technology has also enabled globalization and helped it thrive over the last few decades. One would expect that businesses that have a global presence welcome people from different cultures in their workplace. That’s what I thought until I faced the bitter reality that globalization on people and culture is a myth in workplace economics.
Given that countries have opened up their boundaries for foreign trade, it is natural to assume that global organizations would naturally welcome international talent. Attracting and hiring talent from different countries helps organizations to build teams that naturally inherit a mindset that is influenced by the likes and dislikes of global cultures. The products and services developed by these teams will represent an amalgamation of global influence, thus providing a wider marketing reach.
Now, here is the reality….
I consider myself a vagabonder – if not a workabonder. I wander around the world to work for organizations that is on a mission to use technology to deliver positive impact to the mankind. In the last 15 years of my career, I have worked for organizations in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Workabonding is exciting and thrilling due to the fact that it provides opportunities to work with people of varied culture. The cultural elements of a country directly influence peoples’ working style, which in turn has a deep reflection on how organizations operate. Alibaba and Amazon operate on a similar business model – but they are run differently and the fact that they are lead by leaders belonging to different culture make them a completely different place to work for.
Being a workabonder enabled me to not just adopt to different styles of working, but also learn how people from different culture operate in workplace and the type of impact it has on an organization’s growth. The experiences of working with people from different culture has immensely enhanced my ability as a leader. I naturally developed a strong acumen to work with people who brought varied strengths and challenges to the team. Exposure to global cultures has enhanced my outlook for different personalities, thus helping me to fertilize my leadership abilities in building strong cross functional teams from ground zero.
Now, here is the challenge….
And this challenge is something I have experienced in every country before I landed my first job. It is the same challenge that most HRs and Recruiters have a unanimous opinion on, but unable to change the perception of recruiting managers.
“International candidates lack local experience”
I target leadership roles in corporates and mature start-ups that has a global presence delivering products and services. One would expect that such organizations would naturally welcome leaders with global exposure. But time and again, country after country, I have been proved wrong. Organizations are always keen to only consider job seekers with local experience. By local experience they mean candidates who have had prior experience working with native people.
The Government and political parties lobby to reform their immigration policies to attract foreign talent.
The organizations jump at the opportunity to hire international job seekers as executors, but detest the idea of hiring them as leaders.
Several months after moving to a new country, it takes that ONE PERSON who is a workabonder himself to trust my abilities as a leader and hire me to lead parts of the organization. I am glad that after a successful stint in my first job in a new country, other organizations take a bee line to invite me to join their leadership team. It is landing my first leadership role that has always been a challenge in a foreign land. My fellow workabonders have also shared similar experiences. But what keeps us going is the excitement we experience while we get the opportunity to work with global teams across different countries. The exposure that we garner and the global networks that we build is a matter of pride for workabonders.
Most organizations tend to think that leaders in an organization should be culturally fluent to help businesses succeed. Cultural fluency alone does not ensure that leaders take the right actions for short and long-term business successes. We live in an era where the success of an organization does not depend on its regional influence, but on how quickly it penetrates into the global market. Having global leaders run their organization will naturally shape the organization’s culture with a perfect blend of professional and cultural ethos. The teams built by global leaders exhibit a true blend of cognitive and social intelligence who look beyond their strategy canvas to explore opportunities for scale. Global leaders carry a great sense of collaboration and that reflect in the teams they build.
Workabonders, due to their experience working with people of different culture are naturally tuned to have a multi-dimensional approach to problems. Their outlook to business growth and scale is not restrictive of local needs and demands. They are explorative and risk balanced – both of which are key traits for a successful leader.
I suggest organizations invest time and money in finding leaders with global experience to create successful brands for your business.