Combating global uncertainty
Gurnek Bains is a man who knows a thing or two about executive leadership. As co-founder and chairman of corporate psychology consultancy YSC, he has helped coach leaders from FTSE 100 firms such as HSBC, Tesco, Royal Bank of Scotland and Diageo.
So when he says: “CEOs consistently tell me they’ve never known a time of more global uncertainty. One or two markets can blow a strategic plan apart,” it’s fair to assume that globalisation is playing on the minds of big business – and not always in a positive way.
“Business has become a multi-polar world. People talk about globalisation, but that has traditionally meant the export of Western goods and ways of doing business. Instead, we now live in a world where strong actors are emerging from different fields, ready to take over and challenge Western companies. That global competition requires greater understanding,” says Bains.
To this end, Bains has recently published Cultural DNA: The Psychology of Globalisation, an extensive examination of the strengths and weaknesses of 30,000 leaders from around the world.
In it, he explores how each culture has deep-seated attributes and values that have developed over thousands of years. By better understanding these values, he argues multinational businesses will be able to recruit more successfully, grow quicker and compete with local players.
However, as leaders, our default position when it comes to operating abroad is often to expect satellite operations to adopt the characteristics and culture of our home country – leading to frustration and confusion on both sides.
“A lot of multinationals complain of huge talent issues in some parts of the world, but you’ll always see problems if you impose your own values. If you attempt to build on existing strengths within the grain of a culture, you’re going to find it easier to get talent working for you in the right way, rather than trying to turn everyone into Western leaders,” argues Bains.