The phrase ‘global management competencies’ may seem at once intimidating and obscure – but what does it actually mean?

Essentially, to be successful in the modern world of international business, it takes a certain toolkit of skills and knowledge that must be built up over time. Without them, you are unlikely to have the impact you want in your organisation or become a leader in your chosen field.

Crucial to these competencies are what is known as both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills. Previously, hard skills were valued much more highly than so-called soft skills and included technical things like accounting and writing. These are still important, however in today’s global environment, soft skills such as thinking adaptively and collaborating are being prized more and more.

In this blog, we are going to take a look at these skills that make up global management competencies and why exactly they are so necessary.

Knowledge and expertise

Whatever industry you choose, learning the ins and outs of that industry, keeping up to date with developments and constantly educating yourself is key. As Forbes puts it, ‘International business today is complex both because of technology and the difficulties of doing business around the world.’

This means that good executives are ‘viewed as some of the most knowledgeable and experienced in their industry. They understand all aspects of the businesses that they run.’

Undertake extra training, go on courses, attend conferences and read articles – gain the technical skills you need to understand exactly what you are trying to achieve with your organisation. They may come in handy in ways you don’t even expect. Maintain commercial awareness and always know the landscape that you are operating in.

Cultural sensitivity

When working in an international environment, you are likely to come across people from different backgrounds and cultures. They may be a colleague, a client, or a customer, so understanding how to communicate across cultures is an indispensable skill. Along with an open mind and a focus on communication, research is absolutely key.

A great example of a company getting this wrong is fast food giant KFC. After expanding to China in the late 1980s, they ran into a little trouble translating their famous slogan. Instead of ‘Finger-lickin’ good’, the Beijing branch encouraged people to ‘Eat your fingers off.’ A little research and a competent translator, and this blunder could have been completely avoided.

Adaptive thinking and collaboration

The greatest international business leaders are not the ones who think they know everything; they are the ones who harness the knowledge around them and use it to achieve their goals.

Collaboration, and the ability to work with others from various backgrounds and with different skill sets requires respect, humility, confidence and the ability to listen.

What you get out of others combined with your own perspective and ideas can be infinitely more powerful and effective than working alone.

Adaptive thinking also requires some of the same flexibility. International markets can be unpredictable, subject to sudden change and, sometimes, things just don’t go to plan. In these situations, the ability to pivot and adapt is essential. There will also often be ideas or campaigns that work brilliantly in one region that are completely inappropriate for others – being aware of this allows you to operate successfully on a global scale.

Project Management

A more practical skill in some ways, it incorporates most of the above. In addition to these, it also requires foresight, organisational skills and people skills as well as delegation and good communication. These become all the more important in a global environment, where different time-zones, currencies and working styles may all come into play.

As with most things, good project management is a something that requires hard work and a learning period to get right. However, once mastered, it will make your life in an international organisation so much easier as well as helping you to move forward in your career.

Developing Global Management Competencies are two modules (I and II) that you will study on our MSc Business with programmes and MA Luxury Brand Management.

If Project Management appeals to you more, our MSc International Project Management may be the course for you.

If you want more information about studying at Northumbria University London, visit our website, or to view the courses available please visit our courses page.

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