Peo­ple skills vi­tal uni­ver­sally

Un­der­stand peo­ple rather than cul­ture to get ahead, Cara Jenkin re­ports

The Advertiser - Careers - - Executives -

BUSI­NESS lead­ers need peo­ple skills rather than in-depth knowl­edge of cul­ture and lan­guage to suc­ceed in the global mar­ket­place.

A new study by work­place so­lu­tions provider Right Man­age­ment re­veals there are six es­sen­tial com­pe­ten­cies that lead­ers re­quire to op­er­ate with their coun­ter­parts, clients and/ or staff in other coun­tries – all of which deal with in­ter­per­sonal skills. The Lead­ing across cul­tures in the Hu­man Age study ad­vises lead­ers that they need to be able to build and main­tain trust­ing re­la­tion­ships, com­fort­ably so­cialise with new peo­ple in un­fa­mil­iar so­cial sit­u­a­tions, demon­strate a gen­uine in­ter­est in other peo­ple and en­joy new so­cial chal­lenges to be suc­cess­ful.

It also rec­om­mends that work­ers be able to see through any vague­ness and un­cer­tainty in their or oth­ers’ un­der­stand­ing of a sit­u­a­tion and avoid be­com­ing frus­trated when fig­ur­ing out how busi­ness is done in other cul­tures.

Its find­ings are sup­ported by the ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­ec­u­tives at Aus­tralia’s largest toy com­pany, Moose En­ter­prise, which ex­ports to 80 coun­tries.

Co-chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Solomon says be­ing adapt­able and flex­i­ble in dif­fer­ing busi­ness mar­kets, cul­tures and en­vi­ron­ments is more im­por­tant than hav­ing com­plete knowl­edge of their cul­ture.

‘‘ You don’t need to have any for­eign lan­guage skills, you need peo­ple skills. That’s very im­por­tant,’’ he says.

‘‘ There’s al­ways change go­ing on around the world and you need to adapt to that. ‘‘ That’s part and par­cel in do­ing ex­port. (For ex­am­ple) we’re in Kaza­khstan, Ar­gentina, North Amer­ica, so deal­ing with com­pletely dif­fer­ent cul­tures and peo­ple skills are ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.

‘‘ You can’t un­der­stand the full de­tail. You’ve got to be per­sis­tent with them so you can ex­tract in­for­ma­tion from them and work to­gether with them to max­imise busi­ness.’’

He says lead­ers need to see the big pic­ture and be driven and lead by ex­am­ple. ‘‘ Com­mon sense is al­ways good,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s a ba­sic skill that a lot of peo­ple don’t have.’’

Lead­ers also need to know how to mo­ti­vate and in­spire as ini­tia­tives and emo­tions trans­late across cul­tural bound­aries.

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