Global leadership skills multiply with language skills when collaborating in truly diverse and inclusive teams and with global business partners. While learning a language is an investment, read below how strategic language learning will help leaders to reach their objectives quicker.
Many organisations recognize that doing business in a common language is a good policy for reducing misunderstandings. However, global leadership skills reach far beyond a leader’s ability to speak that language. Speaking more than one language allows one to manage the diverse needs of global team members, employees and other business partners whose business dynamics and motivations may be very different.
Multilingualism enhances leadership skills by expanding the way people communicate and are perceived by their audience.
« Language is a first step towards understanding culture.«
As we globalize, more significant than just knowing a language, is a rising need for people skilled in understanding context that stems from how people speak or interact. This goes beyond issues of inclusiveness and having a culturally diverse workforce.
It is much more an issue of leadership skills in being able to comprehend different perspectives readily and think in different ways.
Value added for the economy ... and the individual
The economic added value of the language skills of the Swiss was the subject of an academic study that calculated that the competitive advantage caused by multilingualism in Switzerland is close to 10% of the annual GDP. This study also revealed how important languages are to enter the domestic labour market.
In a competitive work environment and uncertainty shaped by unprecedented challenges, mastering an additional language is a key differentiator to seize opportunities whether internally or outside the organisation. Multilingual managers are increasingly valued and sought after. Recruiters and industry leaders consider them to be better equipped to manage both global business relationships and teams. Statistically multilingualism leads to higher earnings, promotion as well as a wider choice of work.
It is an investment in the future worth taking while in a role.
Engaging in strategic language learning
Strategic language learning helps to access the benefits of mastering a new language more efficiently and quicker. Strategic language learners:
1. Define key areas of development and set SMART objectives just as they do for any other project. They maintain priorities and focus.
2. Plan the amount of time they dedicate for language learning. With moving agendas as a reality, the strategic language learner will set up dynamic schedules in which learning windows can be shortened or extended according to business requirements.
3. Use the latest methods and personalized support just as they do for work-outs. Different learning profiles, natural predispositions, motivation and existing language skills will be taken into account to create an accelerated learning plan.
4. Steadily increase exposure to their target language and culture. Similar to expanding social networks, the strategic language learner thoughtfully develops contacts and dives in to new communities.
The strategic language learner is always open to taking risks and curious to discover cultures, his and her preferred welcome greeting to colleagues and clients is: « From today, we’ll speak in your language! »