Teach the relevant skills in your business training to see your global teams rise

Which competencies are the most in demand for international business?

And what type of business training do companies need to invest in to ensure their talent pool is equipped with the competencies required to succeed in markets around the world? These are questions which continue to come up in the conversations with our clients. Consequently, the next question usually is: How do global businesses structure their training initiatives to provide talent and leadership development programs which address these skills needs?

First, let’s take a look at some of the 21st century abilities that are usually named by business and education experts: Showing technical or professional expertise, inspiring and motivating people, displaying integrity, analyzing, problem solving, communicating with impact, building relationships, thinking strategically, etc. The list goes on and on, and in fact there are plenty of excellent directories available online, e.g. the “19 soft skills every leader needs,” the “Top 10 skills every great leader needs,” the “Three skills every 21st century manager needs” or the “Critical leadership skills“.

What does global talent really need to learn in the 21st century?

According to a report by the World Economic Forum there is a gap between the skills people learn and the skills people need, and traditional educational methods fall short of equipping students with the knowledge they need to thrive. And too often business training fails to provide programs to fill this gap.

21st century skills for business training

In our experience, many of the so-called soft skills have become part of business training curricula, which is a good thing. However, too often professionals receive instruction in these skills based on the social norms of their home culture. Communicating (verbally or non-verbally), giving feedback, negotiating, delivering unpleasant news, saying “no” and handling resistance, managing change, dealing with difficult colleagues, building morale, recognizing good work – all of these leadership strengths are hard enough to develop in your own culture. Successfully executing these tasks in foreign markets and with multinational teams is an entirely different ball game.

Know when to apply business training and when to rely on coaching

If you look at the image above you’ll see which 21st century skills the WEF report has identified. You’ll also notice those circled in yellow: These are the fields our trainers focus on when working with our clients. The fact that the WEF report acknowledges the foundational relevance of cultural and civic literacy is a validation of our work. While cultural competence and communication skills can be taught via well-designed business training programs, character traits like adaptability or cultural awareness require some time to develop.

Smart learning and development teams understand the different effects of training and coaching for their employees. One approach shouldn’t exclude the other, though. Talk to us to discuss which skills will elevate the performance of your international workforce.
And learn more about our approach via these articles:

Four types of cross-cultural training

Meet your global growth goals with BANK

5 basic principles for efficient cross-cultural coaching


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Comments 1

  1. Cultural and civic literacy, communication, curiosity, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness is the categories that we fall short on due to not being educated on these subjects in school and business training per the report from World Economic Forum. I think that we fall short in these areas also because they are out of our standard comfort zone. In Ethics in Human Communication, by considering reciprocity and the Golden Rule, Chen and Starosta suggest these twelve propositions “for ethical intercultural communication.

    1) perceives people as equal, even when their beliefs differ
    2) actively seeks out and interacts with persons of diverse ethnicity and nation origin
    3) listens carefully and non-judgmentally
    4) questions patiently to ascertain intended meaning
    5) is slow to reach closure and recognizes that misunderstanding often arises from out-of-awareness cultural differences
    6) solicits and provides feedback to ensure that messages were received as intended
    7) seeks to learn the culture and language of the Other in considerable detail
    8) works from belief that the Other is rational when understood in cultural context
    9) places a positive value on cooperation and conflict resolution
    10) seeks synergy in dealings with the Other, with the understanding that no one language, religion, or gender orientation among the diverse ones in a nation should be taken as speaking for or representative of the whole nation
    11) seeks to include all voices in the interaction
    12) sets only those conditions for the Other that will be honored equally by the Self (Johannesen, 2008, Pg. 226).”
    I believe this is a good generally guideline to follow when communication multiculturally but should just be for consideration and due to the situation should not feel that you are being forced to accept their behavior or ideas or not be allowed to criticize after considering openly before judging the person or situation.

    Works Cited
    Johannesen, Richard. 2008. Ethics in Human Communication. Long Grove:Waveland Press.

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