Photo: John Levanen on flickr
Having an international background might look exceptional on your resume, but just because you’re a phenomenal leader in your own country doesn’t guarantee you’ll find success as an international executive.Rohit Bhargava says in his upcoming book “Likeonomics” that it’s one thing to adhere to business protocol in different cultures, and an entirely different thing to be able to influence people who already think of you as an “outsider.” And if you don’t have the right personality for a career abroad, things might go downhill fast. If you fail, you’d end up costing your company a lot of money.
“Many companies mistakenly select people to go overseas using the same criteria they would use for domestic positions, instead of using a systematic approach to find out who will do well in a certain country and who won’t,” Michael F. Tucker — president of HR development company Tucker International — told Tony Lee at CareerCast.
If you’re being considered for an overseas position, you should think about the country’s valued traits and compare them with your own. Are they similar or different? If they’re different, are you willing to change, or can you change?
“If you’re very entrepreneurial, emerging markets — including Brazil, the rest of South America, Vietnam, Moscow, China — are the frontier. You can build a huge reputation as a sharpshooter and move up quickly,” but if you’re more risk-averse, “you may do better in Europe or another established market, where there are already established procedures and a track record.”
In order to influence people who come from different cultures than you, Bhargava says you have to figure out what people care about and use that to your advantage in communicating with them. This means you have to be an effective listener and demonstrate that you can adapt quickly. For strong trust to be established, it also doesn’t hurt to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions.
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