Globalization is no longer a choice of certain companies or corporations; globalization is a trend in everybody’s life. Are you connected to the world? The Internet has changed how we meet people, have conversations, and spend time with others. Our lives are no longer influenced only by the ones closest to our rooms, houses, or workplaces. We are connecting daily with the rest of the world.
As of March 1, 2015, out of the 7.3 billion total people in the world 3.0 billion are Internet users, 2.1 billion are active social media users, and 7.1 billion are mobile subscribers. Further, according to Ericsson's 2015 mobility report the number of mobile broadband subscriptions will increase by 5.4 billion by 2020. As you are reading these lines, there are thousands of new users of the Internet developing new ways to communicate and connect to others. Further, it is without doubt that a variety of new cultures are developing on the Internet as the world becomes a village and the Internet becomes the place where billions meet every day. I dare to say that the eighth continent is not a pile of garbage in some far place or Atlantis. The eighth continent is the Internet, with 3.0 billion or more inhabitants. All of these data illustrate that globalization, like never before, has required that we embrace a higher level of understanding of each other’s culture and values, regardless of our physical location in the world. As we are getting interconnected with the rest of the planet and aim to thrive socially, economically, intellectually, and professionally, it is more than evident that we need to increase our cultural awareness. It does not matter how physically far we are from each other—we as humans want to relate, connect, influence, and transform others.
Is the impact of global communications increasing our desire to extend our frontiers? Globalization has not only affected us socially and culturally; it has had an impact on the world economy as well. Business globalization has caused executives around the globe to aspire to become global leaders with abilities to influence people across cultural and national boundaries and excel at global innovation. Many have noticed, and researchers have recognized it: cultural forces influence many aspects of leadership.
If this is your first examination into the topics of leadership and culture, most likely you would like too know what leadership and culture are. Perhaps you would like to know if you are a leader and, furthermore, understand how leadership and culture relate. Leadership and culture are universal topics that have existed from the beginning of human history and have been studied for centuries. However, leadership is often misunderstood. It’s been confused with management, entrepreneurship, intelligence, knowledge, pioneers, and of course, a title or position of responsibility or power. Moreover, being a leader has been confused with having the ability to lead. Culture has been similarly misinterpreted and mislabeled as ethnicity, diversity, and stereotypes, and a blend between national, ethnic, and organizational culture. Regrettably, the study of culture has focused more on our differences than our similarities.
Now, if you are well-versed on the topics of leadership and culture, you most likely will agree with the fact that leadership and culture are strongly related. If we would like to be successful in the fast speed of globalization and connect to influence others around the world, leadership and culture are inseparable subjects. In fact, I truly believe that a leader without cultural awareness and global leadership skills is not able to lead to his or her full potential—not in the global arena and not in today’s world.
Leaders should be able to answer questions such as the following: Can we really lead without cultural awareness? How do cultural attributes facilitate leadership influence? Can leaders effectively influence without understanding someone’s cultural values, assumptions, and beliefs? All these questions are absolutely worthy to be answered in the minds of unstoppable globalization. Global leaders recognize the need to develop their cultural awareness to be able to lead in a globalized society.
Globalization is not an option; it’s a trend. It is a fact that building organizations and teams in a multicultural environment can quickly become unproductive where there is no cultural awareness. Culture has an influence on building agreements, establishing productive relationships, developing teams, obtaining information, handling discrepancies, and making decisions.
A leader’s influence is effective to the extent of his or her level of cultural awareness. We have to recognize that we are far from the final conclusions on the topics of leadership and culture as they evolved as humans does; as culture evolved, leadership has to be to fine- tuned and vice versa. Consequently, we must continue researching, observing, and learning from the global cultural behaviors that are facilitating leadership effectiveness in a globalized world.