Global leaders are in more demand all the time as the world is progressively becoming a global village of mixed cultures and people groups. Though global cultures may differ a great deal from one another, the environment in which various cultures are intermingling is causing those divides to become blurry. This blurring of cultural divides is being helped along by advances in technology such as the internet, which is making it possible for leaders all over the world to engage in cultures they have never visited and become quite familiar and culturally literate in (Ewen, 2011).
Global leaders, by definition, are visionaries inspired by a worldwide challenge that remains unsolved (Cabrera & Unruh, 2012). From this definition, it can be understood that global leaders do not necessarily need to travel the world, the simply need to have a global perspective that embraces the variety of cultures and seeks ways to bring them together (Cabrera & Unruh, 2012). This global perspective is the ability to influence individuals and groups that are unlike them (Wang, Li, & Mobley, 2011).
What has been found is that many world travelers on assignment for businesses often fail to engage in the culture of the countries they are visiting because of their tight schedules, and they seldom leave the confines of the organization they are working for (Caligiuri, 2013). Ultimately, global leaders value different cultures and embrace those differences as opportunities rather than obstacles (George, 2015).
Now, global travel is certainly an opportunity to enhance a global leader’s cultural savvy. Since there is not substitute for first-hand experience, and having direct personal experience with other cultures can be the most significant element of global leadership development (McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002), global leaders would be wise to engage in international travel. But it is not the silver bullet.
Cabrera, A., & Unruh, G. (2012). Being global: how to think, act, and lead in a transformed world. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press.
Caligiuri, P. (2012). Cultural agility: building a pipeline of successful global professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ewen, S. C. ., firstname.lastname@example.org. (2011). Cultural literacy and Indigenous health in medical education. Focus on Health Professional Education, 13(1), 68–74.
George, B. (2015). The New Global Leaders. People & Strategy, 38(3), 26–30.
McCall, M. W., & Hollenbeck, G. P. (2002). Developing global executives: the lessons of international experience. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Wang, Y., Li, M., & Mobley, W. H. (2011). Advances in Global Leadership. Bingley: Emerald. Retrieved from http://0-search.ebscohost.com.library.regent.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=358747&site=eds-live