Leadership Skills for Global Business Success

Posted by: Ernie Watts - Global Chamber Chicago on Monday, January 27, 2020

Global Chamber® Chicago co-hosted an event this month in conjunction with the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center (ITC) at the Joseph Business School focused on the leadership skills needed to run a successful global business. Thank you to all who participated!

Leading the discussion was Global Chamber® Chicago member Mike Wynne, President of International Management Consultants Associates. Brian Butler, Director of the ITC, and Ernie Watts, Executive Director of Global Chamber® Chicago, also participated in the interactive discussion along with a group of Chicago area international business leaders and advisors.

What many business executives usually don’t know are the risks of going global. Mike Wynne, a senior executive with many years of experience managing international operations, walked the group through a series of questions and situations most global leaders will have to answer and confront along the way.

Many of these questions and situations form the basis for Mike’s book entitled Global Business Success (available on Amazon). In the book, Mike takes the reader on a journey from the perspective of an American executive sent to run a foreign operation and quickly having to learn to navigate more than just a new language, often by trial and error. The challenges any executive faces translating success in one market to success globally provided the attendees with ample opportunity to offer real world examples and engage in vital discussion – a real learning experience for everyone!

Watch HERE the entire discussion and see below for the list of questions and situations commonly faced by any global business leader. Global Chamber® is uniquely positioned to provide additional insight and resources to help you be a successful global leader, while based in Chicago or anywhere, and growing to anywhere as well!

You don’t have to do it alone!

Ernie Watts - Executive Director of Global Chamber® Chicago

This is a global business checklist from Mike Wynne designed to remind us of the many situations and potential opportunities associated with global business activities. You may want to copy it as a guideline reminder for your international development planning.

  1. Why should you go on the internet to read the newspaper ads of foreign countries before going there? Most have translated their ads into English, but even if they are in other languages, you will definitely learn specifically valuable foreign business words.
  1. Beware! Nepotism is very common in many countries. You need to check possible relationships between employees and bosses. Supervisors in foreign countries often hire relatives. What if we discover that some of our managers have been hiring family members to fill new job vacancies?
  1. Business networking is important in every foreign country. Need to explore foreign business associations. An important part of the networking should also include our nation’s embassy. Their executives usually have developed good relations with important local corporate executives that open doors for a wide variety of business opportunities, plus their knowledge of local potentials.
  1. Beware of possible illegal bribing of foreign government officials. It is rather common in many countries. Some of our company’s local employees may have developed relationships with government
  1. Business networking is important in every foreign country.
  2. Good to develop some relationships with people in local government offices and even politics.
  1. Keep in mind the importance of showing respect for locals at all levels including taxi drivers, restaurant servers, and even professors at colleges.
  1. Develop a habit of opening and holding doors for all kinds of local people.
  1. Two keywords for developing and opening appreciation are “Thank You”.
  1. Shaking hands is still a gesture of respect
  2. Every culture has cuss words. You do need to learn but not use them. Please keep in mind that the same words may have different meanings that can get you in trouble.
  1. Use nice words to show kindness with everybody.
  2. Show respect for older people. Create a reputation of kindness. Wear business clothing for most situations
  1. Learn respect words such as “Excuse me” “Please” “Pardon me”, “May I?” “Permission”, “Can I help you?” “Sorry “
  2. Meeting at lunch with people for business can be very productive
  3. Good American business leaders improve relations with foreign employees by building teams that constantly work together to improve their companies and themselves.
  1. Discussing solutions without first agreeing on the problems is counterproductive. Our job is to assist the organization in objectively comparing what is to what should be.
  1. What if customers are changing their emotional triggers about our products, services, policies, relationships, prices and satisfactions?
  1. What if one of our competitors supplies customers faster than we do?
  2. What if our website is too pushy loaded with so many recorded questions before it can satisfy our customers’ needs?
  1. What if our salespeople are over-focused on product and service rather than customer satisfaction?
  1. What if our materials suppliers are raising their prices too fast and too much?
  1. What if our employees decide to create a union that might get in the way of the customer service?
  1. What if too many of our customers are dissatisfied with the way we treat them?
  1. What if the local government decides to increase its requirements about our product and service quality?
  1. What if a government thinks our technology is inadequate?
  2. What if nature affects our operations and services?
  3. What if the cost of shipping suddenly rises too high because of a foreign government dissatisfaction with our government’s policies?
  1. What if our company’s technology is weakened by new developments of competitors?
  1. What if we are running out of talent?
  2. What if we discover possible corruption within our own company?
  3. What if our competitors are lowering their prices?
  4. What if some of our overseas employees are using our technology secrets to seek jobs with other companies
  1. What if there are terrorist dangers in the foreign country where we have one of our subsidiaries operating?
  1. What if our U.S. headquarters consider their operations as totally more important than our foreign operations?
  1. What if we discover that we built our largest overseas subsidiary in the wrong country?
  1. What if we discover that some of our overseas properties were misrepresented for the benefit of one of our employees or their family members?
  1. What if we discover that when one of our headquarters executives spends more of his time and our money when he or she has a business trip to another country?
  1. What if we discover that our foreign subsidiary’s U.S. auditor’s operations are not as reliable as their U.S. offices?
  1. What if the U.S. state where our headquarters are located has become the most expensive tax state in the country?
  1. What if we are considering moving our headquarters to a foreign country just to lower our taxes and operating expenses?
  1. What if one of our highest expensive foreign level executives has turned out to be a secretly incompetent employee?
  1. What if when I went to our recent foreign business acquisition and discovered that it was in a bad location?
  1. What if I was sent overseas to run a business for our U.S. company and discovered they had been losing money there for four years but nobody from headquarters ever told me about it?
  1. What if we discover that our prices are too high in different markets?




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