It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.

– Kofi Annan

The world is changing rapidly and in many ways. Globalization is one of them.

What does this mean for today’s leaders and teams?

It means an increasing diversity in the workplace with teams working across geographic and cultural boundaries.

It also means that new skills have to be developed to be successful in this new world order.  Those who develop these abilities first will have a competitive edge on everyone else.

I will give you five simple practices you can do every day that will help you develop the skills to succeed in a globalized world – and become a global leader.


Mindful Meditation

The first practice is also one that you can do first thing in the morning. Mindful meditation has been proven to have a number of health benefits, so it’s good for you regardless of your lifestyle.

One of the benefits is to boost self-awareness, both of your body and mind.

Why is this important

In a globalized world, we’re more likely to encounter new and unexpected situations, especially when it comes to different cultures.

Certain behaviors that may be considered rude in your culture can be perfectly acceptable in another. When this occurs, It’s easy to fall back into automatic programming and just react. However, these reactions are almost always wrong and can cause lasting damage to relationships.

Having the self-awareness to stop us from reacting too quickly, giving us a chance to understand the situation first can go a long way.  The misunderstandings can usually be cleared up easily, and this offers an opportunity to learn about others. We can use these lessons in future situations.

How to do it

Start simple.

Once you wake up, before you start your day, find a comfortable chair, and sit up straight. Lay your hands on your thighs and close your eyes. Clear your mind and focus on your breathing.

If your mind wanders and find yourself thinking about yesterday breakfast or the workday ahead, don’t worry about it, just bring back your focus to your breathing. Set a timer and start with 5 or 10 minutes and work your way up to 20 or longer. Do this daily.


Suspend Judgement and Be Curious

As you are developing your self-awareness with mindful meditation, you’ll start noticing more situations where something is unexpected or rubs you the wrong way.  When this happens, we tend to be judgmental.

Why is this important

What happens is that we are judging someone else’s actions according to our rules while they are following a different set of rules. Culture is, in its simplest form, what is desirable and acceptable. So different cultures, mean different rules.

As we saw earlier, what may be rude in your culture may be polite in another one, it all depends on the context. This can be especially irritating when we are working in a team environment and are under heavy pressure.

Most people are often unaware that there is more than one way to look at the same thing, so it requires a little bit of deliberate effort to understand what’s going on.

These differences can create friction, that if left unchecked, can destroy the team morale and cause massive delays.

How to do it

Once you become aware that something is bothering you or is unexpected, suspend judgment and ask yourself: “Why is this happening?”. Adopt a curiosity mindset and be genuinely curious.

Is it possible that this person is acting following another set of rules? Are they coming from another culture? Keep in mind that if someone looks like you and speaks your language doesn’t mean that their culture, which is hard to see, is the same.  Who is a trusted friend or colleague that can you ask for their perspective? When this happens, feel free to drop me an email.

Over time, you’ll develop a better sense of the similarities and differences between cultures. You’ll be better equipped to navigate future situations will quickly understand what’s going on and what you should do.



Keeping a personal journal is a great way to capture thoughts and observations in the moment while they are fresh. It also offloads our mind in the present and can help us return to our current focus.

Why is this important

When it comes to cross-cultural situations and learning from them, reflection and hindsight are precious.  This helps us revisit the situation with a cool head, reflect on it, and even discuss them with trusted friends. This is how we achieve deep learning and develop the skills to navigate a globalized workplace with agility.

How to do it

Have a journal or app that’s easy to access. When something usual or unexpected happens, write down what happened, how it made you feel, your observations, and your thoughts.

Don’t censor or edit yourself, just write.

Review it later in the day or at the end of the week and amend the entry with your reflections.    For especially tricky situation, you may benefit from discussing it with a friend who you trust and can provide useful insight either because they know you well, they have had similar experiences or both. Alternatively, you can reach out to me and I’d be happy to help you reflect on the situation and share my insights.


Seek opportunities to grow

If in doubt, yes say.

This is my usual approach to new opportunities. After all, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.  There are many opportunities to learn and grow, whether small or big, for those who know to look for them.

Why is this important

Many important skills are developed by exposure and an open mind. This is especially true for being able to relate with and understand other cultures and work with them effectively.

How to do it

The lowest hanging fruit is to join and attend events by international or ethnic clubs.  There are meetups, various ethnic or international clubs, and organizations, many of them along with specific interests like business, dancing, art, or cuisine.  What better way to get immersed French culture than to take a cooking class? Aim to have one event per week where you step out of your comfort zone.

On a more challenging side, you can seek out projects or roles within your company that work with distributed teams or requires you to relocate to another country.  You can also look for new jobs abroad. Shorter-term adventure could include traveling to a country that has a very different culture than your own and skip the touristy places for a more challenging (but also more rewarding and authentic) experience.


Build your Network

Spend some time each day to develop and nurture your network. It can be as simple a follow- up on a recent meeting, a quick call to check in with a friend or sharing something valuable, such as a link, book or event invitation with someone.

The idea is to approach each interaction as a giver, focusing on how you can help the other person, without keeping score, instead of focusing on what they can do for you.

I call this ABG or always be giving. Even 5 minutes of attention is a gift. I often find that some things that come easy for me are valued much more on the other side.  The idea is not to expect an immediate reward, but in the long run, the returns are overwhelmingly positive.

Why is this important

Even with all the advanced technologies at our disposal, human connections remain king.  85% of jobs are filled through networks, investors prefer warm introductions, and high-end clients seek out peer referrals.

All of my best personal and professional opportunities came from my network. Period.

How to do it

Block out a small period of time each day for networking activities, it could be as little as 10 minutes.  Check-in with old friends, follow up on new contacts, pick up the phone and call someone whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Set up a meeting over coffee with someone you met recently.

I created a training on this topic as part of our Free Leadership Development Series. Check it out there.

With these five daily practices, you can easily improve your Cross-cultural and leadership skills every day.  As you get better at relating across cultures, you’ll find more pleasure in it, and it will also become easier. You’ll have delightfully satisfying A-Ha moments when you make a link between two seemingly distant cultures.  You’ll be able to “code switch” intuitively how you relate, manage or lead in culturally diverse environments. This will make you an extremely valuable asset to any organization.

More importantly, these skills are cumulative and build on each other. Imagine who you can be in 6 months or a year?

Put this practice to use and let me know how it goes!