One thing is very clear to anyone who has done this work. The bigger implications of global leadership lie in the cross-cultural nature of the work. We deal with people who have significantly different filters of the world. Due to the inherent nature of perception, the world that they see has many different aspects. Remember that we work with people who speak different languages (meaning there is a different representational system of the world), pray to different gods, and have different economic value systems. These are just some of the big ones. We also know that in most cross-cultural situations, it is usually not the big differences that can become problems, but the small ones that go somewhat unnoticed.
Some anthropologists assert that translation from one language to another is actually not possible. While we can convert the words from one into another representation, we choose a word that is a representation of an experience within one environment and culture, and choose a rough equivalent that is actually a representation of another experience within a different environment and culture. While the experience may be similar, it is not the same as the experience through the other culture. It is a realization that we need to engage as we begin our exploration into global leadership. We need to take this as a way of opening our eyes to limits in our existing perspective, not as a limit to what is possible for us to learn. It is possible to gain deep knowledge and appreciation of different cultures through experiencing them. The skills pertinent to global leadership are not necessarily to develop a deep understanding of a large number of cultures, although that certainly wouldn’t hurt, but to learn how to understand cultures. A global leader will operate from a perspective of being open to the adventure of the difference.