Cross-Cultural Skills, Leadership, and Marketing in the Future — by Deborah Levine

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

Cross Cultural Expertise is the marketing leadership tool of a future that’s coming for us like a high speed train. While that train may go through tunnels and across challenging terrain with a new administration, technology is shrinking our world and that train is gathering speed.  Our workforce, our suppliers, and, above all, our marketing professionals need the skill set of cross-cultural communication, cultural competence, conflict management, and problem solving. They are the fuel to compete in the future and without them, the train may miss its target destination and risk derailment.

Technology takes us beyond borders. Future leaders in marketing will need to rely on diverse teams, whether onsite or virtual. The good news is that with the basic skills of a global mindset, teams can speed up their acquisition of new knowledge, apply the information to their business decisions, and empower Big Picture creativity and implementation. Leaders should inspired assist teams to navigate complex trends and new markets. They should be able to make wise decisions that earn trust, further their mission, and inspire vision. These are the gifts of cross-cultural expertise that keep on giving.

How do we acquire the skills and knowledge that form the basic structure of the global mindset? It’s not an insignificant undertaking, but it is more doable than most people imagine. The process requires a heightened level of self-awareness and an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of cultural differences in a team setting. The process also requires communication skills in a storytelling style that can reach beyond the elite and embed knowledge management into diverse cultural communities.

The final piece of cross-cultural expertise is wise decision making. How many of us call ourselves ‘Wise”? Yet, wisdom is the hallmark of the leadership for the future. When cross-cultural education is combined with the analytical skills of cultural anthropology, the wisdom factor is inserted into leadership development. The acquired skill set includes decision-making skills, an understanding of the consequences of decisions in diverse cultures, and strategies to avoid culture clashes that can paralyze a project. With Cross Cultural Expertise comes the wisdom to anticipate trends and make conscious decisions for your business and your team.

Today’s leaders must expand markets considering that, as always, businesses must grow or they die. They must be ahead of the curve  in multicultural marketing, reaching new and different communities, involving diverse vendors, and serving a broad customer base. To be successful, such efforts cannot be the lone responsibility of a few individuals in the company. Leadership needs to boost teams and departments with cross-cultural expertise. Acquiring a global mindset is a basic development tool.  Building this mindset is the goal of the Matrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross Cultural Wisdom.

As the process becomes more refined going forward, there will be increased focus on diverse segments of the population. Diversity expertise expands the marketers’ reach: gender, generations, religion, and ethnicity, along with  regional diversity. The recent election underscores that it’s not enough to understand the US marketplace. There are distinct regional differences that shape the workplace, the supply chain, and the community ethos. For example, navigating the culture of the South requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge base. This is the goal of Going Southern: The No-Mess Guide to Success in the South.

As the business world gears up for intense competition in the economy of the future, the ability to work and communicate across cultural boundaries will be a major determinant of who will succeed. Future-oriented organizations are already planning for the next generation of entrepreneurs and commerce leaders. Strategies for developing the mindset needed to meet future business challenges are being targeted to an increasingly younger demographic.  Contests, civic projects, and social networks reward youthful flexibility, creativity, and self-branding in a highly competitive environment. The results will unfold over the next decade, hastened by ever-evolving technology.


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