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Today, every large company is global. If most of its customers don’t live in other countries, they soon will. Odds are most suppliers already do. Business leaders know they need to expand their managers’ knowledge of other countries, including their histories, cultures, and religions. The days when such understanding could be delegated to a small cadre in the “international division” are over.
The secret to success in this new environment is to develop business leaders who can understand and relate to others unlike themselves. Such leaders have keen self- awareness, challenging their own assumptions and biases about people who are different than themselves. They are knowledgeable about differences—and even more eager to learn. They have a history of engaging with people outside their immediate circle of friends in meaningful ways. They not only understand other points of view but are highly attuned to others’ feelings.