Management Skills You Should Learn For International Business

Measuring a manager’s success on one continent might equate to that of failure on another. For this reason, understanding the unique set of skills necessary for grooming an effective international business leader is, therefore, important to achieving global success. Not only that but understanding such skills also play a crucial role in defining managerial competencies on all levels and across all borders. Today, most organizations operate internationally to some degree, it is imperative that if you seek success in your career you understand and harbor certain managerial skills as they relate to international business. Almost all businesses today operate on a multi-cultural level, which makes training for international business management all the more difficult. 

When it comes to global leadership and managing cultures across borders, you must expect differences in legalities, culture, and economic systems. The way to achieve success through your management is to learn how to operate in such environments in a way that allows you to convey a common corporate objective amongst your team. 

Regardless of cultural differences and global competencies, business leaders across all borders measure their productivity in one way: quantity and quality of output over input. As a manager, regardless of where you are in the world, your job is to implement actions and take control of situations in order to maximize the output, minimize the input and capitalize on each and every effort put forth. The skills and professional roles that a manager plays are unique in that they must be flexible, That is, in the sense that they easily adapt to any and all situations. Of course, that is speaking very vaguely. However, in order to successfully manage a team internationally, there is a need for specific competencies, which allow the leader to deal with the reality of global business. Here are five skills that are necessary for any manager looking to cross borders and find success. 

Openness to the Integration of New Technologies

First and foremost, any manager that desires success internationally had better be open to the integration of new technologies. In other words, you have to be flexible and open-minded. It is important to remember when you are in a foreign country that the same technologies that are big in the states might not be big in said country. Conversely, there too might be other technologies that we in the States have not yet figured out how to properly utilize. 

That being said, when an opportunity to take advantage of a useful tool such as, say, a VoIP-based business phone system like ‘’, comes along – you had better be ready and willing to see what such a system can offer. In the case of, you could expect increased accessibility, decreased IT costs, improved connectivity and enhanced communication capabilities due to its seamless phone system integration with Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365. That being said, if you were one of those managers that were “stuck in their ways” then you might have missed all of the lucrative benefits that come along with such an advancement. So, keep an open mind in terms of technology. 

The Ability to Handle and Assimilate Multiple Perspectives

International business managers are faced with scenarios in which they are forced to consider multiple perspectives and much ambiguity quite often. In fact, you can assume that you if you accept an international role that you will find yourself handling such uncertainties more often than not. These vague situations that you might find yourself in, which are far more prevalent in global roles than in domestic ones, will require the ability to manage multiple perspectives and viewpoints. 

You must be flexible and cater to the differences that exist with regards to the nature of problem solving. Most importantly, the ability to learn from setbacks and ‘mistakes’ is crucial. Such minor setbacks must be considered learning curves as opposed to failures in order to encourage future success. So, if you utilize a perspective that does not produce the results you had hoped for, instead of chalking it up to a loss, turn it around and make it a learning opportunity. This way, such a ‘mistake’ will not happen again. 

Add Value

Adding value to the team is a critical skill that international business managers must harbor. The ability to take what you have learned from your native marketplace and integrate it into the decision making and strategizing in a foreign market, whilst teaching and learning from your foreign team, is crucial to collaborative success. Finding a balance is key here. A balance that involves just the right amount of your culture and value adding input to the exact amount of foreign policy that mix together in a cohesive and cooperative manner, which equates to achieving goals on a large scale. 

Shape Shifter

Yes, this might sound like a villain out of a comic book, but I assure you that I am referring to a value added skill that all managers looking to succeed overseas must exhibit. When I say “shape shifter” I am referring to the ability to shift the frame of mind from one culture to the next.  Meaning, differences in cultural acceptance, feasibility, practicality and achievability based on specific and acceptable standards or procedures must always be taken into consideration and strategically implemented when deemed acceptable. 

Understanding Business Models

Because business models vary from country to country, it is therefore essential that you – as a successful global leader – have the ability to differentiate and utilize each. A global leader that is effective and efficient will fully understand the requirements that go along with each country’s business model standards and customize marketing, product/services, branding, and selling strategies as well as techniques, to meet demands. In other words, knowing when to focus the company’s efforts on business processes and operational efficiency, as opposed to developing a presence or creating a brand, or even breaking into the market, is vital. 

With over 50 percent of US revenues in multinationals coming from overseas, it makes it much clearer to understand why businesses go global. Having international leaders that understand the strategic skill set essential to achieving unimaginable success overseas is therefore imperative to the growth and global expansion of US based firms that desire to cross borders. The businesses of tomorrow will be those that succeed in grooming international managers to lead their firm to global expansion and success. 


Do you have valuable insight that you would like to share about key skills international managers or leaders must learn in order to safeguard their success? If so, please share! We would love to hear your input!

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