The transition into the second decade of the century has futurists busily forecasting what’s next. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve read predictions that include everything from a one-world currency, a softer, gentler Simon Cowell, the eradication of poverty, and the likelihood of a real-life version of 2012.
All this fortune telling has prompted me to think more about the kinds of cross-cultural management trends we can expect in the Tens. I’m definitely not ready to call these “predictions”; but these are emerging trends based upon our ongoing research on cultural intelligence and leadership in the 21st Century.
Old Fashioned, Face-to-Face Meetings
With team members and clients spread across the globe, videoconferencing has become the efficient, en vogue, cost-effective way to conduct meetings and run corporate training programs. But information gets processed differently when it’s presented via videoconferencing and it affects the way individuals interpret information and make judgments. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interaction. And many of the cultures in the most promising emerging contexts place a much higher value on relationships and interaction than most of us do the West. As technological innovation continues, the craving for face-to-face contact will surge. Managers have to think more deeply about when it’s worth the added expense to hop on a flight or convene a live meeting.
Innovative partnerships between business, government, and NGOs will continue to gain momentum as a way to deal with some of the world’s greatest problems. One immediately thinks of Bill Gates who has shifted his entrepreneurial energies from Microsoft to education and HIV-AIDS. Matthew Bishop of The Economist talks about this as “philanthrocapitalism” and predicts the biggest business givers of the upcoming decade will be Chinese or Indian billionaires. Expect philanthrocapitalism to become a growing theme, particularly as younger leaders with a social justice orientation move into C-level suites.
How’s your Mandarin? Putting China on this list is obvious but it’s sure to be central to just about every global issue in the upcoming decade. China is about to overtake Japan as the world’s second largest economy and three times more people in the world speak Mandarin than English. But don’t toss your English skills just yet. China will become the #1 English speaking country in the world this decade. The surprising thing is, as much as we all nod in agreement about the rising prominence of China, most managers know very little about the history and culture of the rising tiger. Learn all you can about China. Get beyond simplistic, isolated stereotypes and prepare to work with the Eastern Empire.
Low CQ = Obsolete
There are still some business contexts where a culturally ignorant manager can survive. But those days are numbered. Everything suggests that the mobility of people, products, and services will continue to lunge forward. Not only will increased cultural intelligence (CQ) help managers know how to adapt for various cultural markets, enhanced CQ is correlated to a manager’s abilities in innovation and problem solving. CQ will be a non-negotiable for management survival and success.
Make Room for the Kids
Generational diversity is becoming as much a challenge to many employers as ethnic diversity. Our kids enter the workforce more restless than we did. They want jobs that are fast moving like the global, virtual world they’ve experienced all their lives. They don’t want cookie-cutter policies and jobs and they want continuous feedback—not once a year performance reviews. They’ve traveled the world and are connected digitally with friends worldwide. A Blackberry or i-phone is considered a “must-have” in order to get the job done. They expect a concern for global issues and an opportunity to make the world a better place through their work. Oh yeah—and don’t call them “kids”!
God will not die in the Tens, but a broader more inclusive understanding of God, spirituality, and consciousness will continue as Muslims, Christians, agnostics, Jews, and Sikhs learn to work and live alongside each other. Religious differences have too often been divisive in the workplace and in the world at large; but a rising level of spirituality and higher consciousness can lead to managers and firms that act from a global, worldcentric awareness of justice, fairness, and care.
The Tens promise to be global in every way—the environmental crisis, biological engineering, nanorobotics, international monetary policy, terrorism, you name it—everything on the planet is integrated. As your consciousness, thinking, and management become more thoroughly global, there will be a profound connection between you and your success this decade.
Happy New Decade!
[Also posted in my column with Management Issues]