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Becoming an Effective International Leader: What it Means and How to Achieve it

October 28, 2021

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has introduced massive changes in the way we live, work and interact with each other. Automation, machine learning, mobile computing, and artificial intelligence - and the interconnection of these technologies - are being utilized in new and exciting ways to solve some of the world's greatest challenges.

Our world is also more connected than ever before, making it easier and even advantageous for companies to operate on a global scale. Increasing global connection also creates new opportunities and enables people to move and work in any part of the world. 

Global success and prosperity in this era of substantial global change depends on international leaders who can navigate the changes, maximize the benefits and effectively address the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

6 Important International Leaderships Skills and Traits 

Whether you're a student or established in your career, here are a few skills and traits you can work on developing to become an effective leader:  

Digital Global Mindset - A digital global mindset is a collection of qualities and attributes that allow a leader to understand and influence individuals, groups and organizations across cultures. The global mindset of the 21st century is digital because the way we connect and create value is through the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Transdisciplinary, Cross-Sectoral and Cross-Cultural Skills - Optimizing the opportunities and solving the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a complex responsibility that require highly complex solutions. That often means working with people from different disciplines, sectors and cultures. Leaders who possess transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, and cross-cultural skills have the awareness and knowledge to work in a variety of circumstances with a variety of people. 

Emotional Intelligence - As technology transforms our world in new ways, the things that make people human are increasingly more important. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and identify and influence the emotions of other. It's what sets leaders apart today. Leaders with high EQ also typically have other important traits like empathy, honesty, integrity and humility and good conflict resolution. Developing EQ can turn a bad leader into a great leader!  

Cross-Cultural Communications and Negotiations - As globalization shrinks the world, the workplace is becoming an increasingly more diverse, multi-cultural environment. In order to be effective and successful, leaders must know how to communicate and negotiate across cultures. 

Resilience and Adaptability - In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, leaders must be able to adapt to changes, meet challenges head on and come out stronger. The pandemic offers us a significant example of why these two traits are important. Organizations that were ready for the pandemic survived and thrived through, while those that couldn't adapt faced great challenges. Many companies have failed since 2020 because they couldn't adapt. But there are many other, more minute changes and challenges that will affect a business or team. Effective leaders stand ready.  

Growth Mindset - A growth mindset is knowing that our minds are malleable and can grow by actively learning, rather than set by genetics. Leaders with a growth mindset actively pursue knowledge and continue to grow as the world evolves. These leaders also foster the value of growth in their team and company culture, empowering others to adopt a growth mindset.

How to Become a Good International Leader 

While some people are born with inherent leadership traits, many others must learn and practice the art of strong leadership. Regardless of age, experience, or title, anyone can learn how to be a great leader. And leaders can further develop their skills and characteristics any time in their career. 

In fact, leadership development is one of the most important things any leader can do. International leadership changes regularly due to conditions outside of our control. Training to become a leader should not be a singular event, rather a continual process of developing and honing new leadership qualities and skills.  

At Thunderbird, leadership development is a fundamental aspect of our curriculum and we help students and executives become better leaders. Here are a few of our programs geared toward future and current leaders: 

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