10 Traits Of A Great Global Leader

Just as leadership in itself, being a great global leader takes a particular set of competencies, that are a combination of hard and soft skills.
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What makes a great global leader? Certainly not only the circumstances. Having to manage a multicultural team, or to represent your business in another country is not global leadership in itself. It is only the opportunity and promise of it. Or we could also say, it is the question: are you ready and willing to become a great global leader?

Just as leadership in itself, being a great global leader takes a particular set of competencies, that are a combination of hard and soft skills. Let’s have a look at the indispensable ten!

1 – Curiosity

Only a person who genuinely wants to get to know the people they’re working with can be a great global leader. Having an open mind, caring for people and wanting to get to know them is a very strong motivation, which comes from deeper than business goals, and precisely this is why it can take you further. Being curious about others makes it easier to deal with intercultural differences because instead of scaring and blocking you, they will make you aim towards deeper understanding, which is the basis of being a strong and reliable leader.

2 – Humility

Can you even do anything great without being humble? Not really, in my opinion, and leadership, furthermore, global leadership certainly won’t work without humility. Knowing that your way is not the only way, and being okay with it, will help you a great deal. Leading others in a way that is good for them as well can only be possible if you are aware of your own limitations. And it is even more so if you have to work in an international environment. Managing people from different cultures takes the challenges of leadership to a higher level, and safely navigating through all the cultural diversity amongst your employees requires you to be at peace with knowing that you cannot know it all.

3 – Flexibility

Yet again a must-have skill of a leader, which becomes even more important for a great global leader. It doesn’t need much explaining why being flexible is so important for a leader. There are some more aspects to it, however, if we are talking about global leadership. When managing a multicultural team, there is so much more to be flexible about: not just the personality-, but the culture-defined differences as well, which can and often do affect the work you are doing together. Being easy-going about these differences, and being willing from time to time to reconsider your culturally defined convictions will go a long way.

4 – Self-awareness

If you know who you are, then you have stability. And this means knowing your strengths and weaknesses alike. If you are aware of your limitations, then you are less likely to feel confused or lost in the oftentimes unpredictable world of the global workplace. And also, if you are well aware of your strengths, you are more likely to take on new tasks and challenges, and help your international team be their best version.

5 – Tolerance towards ambiguity

Not being afraid of the unknown is one of the most important strengths of a great global leader. When managing people with different cultural backgrounds, the unknown is always there. So the higher your tolerance towards it, the easier it becomes for you. Accepting that you cannot control everything, and there will be things that are out of your reach and understanding, will make your life less stressful, and the intercultural issues less frightening.

6 – Not Being Afraid To Take A Stand

Being flexible and curious is one thing, but it doesn’t mean never having to make any “harsh” decisions. Managing a multicultural team comes with many challenges, sensitive situations will inadvertently occur, and it takes a wise man to know when is the time for being flexible, and when for a firm decision. You can and should be culturally aware, and respect your team’s diversity, but it is also your responsibility as a leader to create that common ground where there are rules. If approached correctly, rules are the best of help and can go a long way in creating an environment where your employees will feel safe.

7 – Cultural Awareness

This one doesn’t need much explaining, right? If you are reading this article, it means you are already aware of the importance of cultural awareness in the global workplace. The more you know how cultural differences shape workplace dynamics, the healthier you can manage your team. Understanding that certain behaviours are defined by culture makes it easier to see your employees’ motivations and fears, and that also means you can address them in a helpful manner.

8 – Lifelong Learning

Seeing work and life in general as a constant learning process makes you humble, and it also means that you gather important knowledge along the way. This means being able to look at everything and everyone around you as a possible source for learning. Being present, observing, asking questions and consciously processing new information, not just being there on autopilot makes you a great global leader and a great person in general.

9 – Knowledge

The more practical, hard facts and information are just as important as generally going through your everydays with open eyes. Taking courses on intercultural matters, learning about your employees’ cultural background, going to workshops, strengthening your cultural intelligence, etc., is really important. It’s not about getting from A to B, but about being on the journey. You can always learn something new, and you can always strengthen your skills, and build new ones.

10 – Master Of Languages

Speaking languages, and learning new ones. Being able to speak to someone in their own language is really good in building trust. And what also helps, is that during language learning you don’t only learn the language itself, but you strengthen your cultural awareness and get cultural fluency, which will all help you bond with your international team on a deeper level.

Eszter Szűcs-Imre

Key Takeaways

  • Only a person who genuinely wants to get to know the people they’re working with can be a great global leader.
  • Knowing that your way is not the only way, and being okay with it, will help you a great deal.
  • Being willing to reconsider your culturally defined convictions from time to time will go a long way.
  • Not being afraid of the unknown is one of the greatest strengths of a great global leader.
  • The more you know how cultural differences shape the workplace dynamics, the healthier you can manage your team.
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