WOMAN NATURALLY SUITED FOR
FOREIGN BUSINESS ASSIGNMENTS -TEST DATA SHOWS
Women managers tend to have the
right priorities to become successful international business leaders, even
if they haven't worked abroad, according to a new study, reported this week
in Personnel Today .
based on over 3000 profiles of managers and professionals, shows that the
qualities most valued by women who have never worked outside their own country
are almost identical to those seen as vital by people – both men and women
- who are highly experienced in working abroad.
strengths include building rapport, accepting and welcoming people from
unfamiliar cultures and gathering information.
data has been compiled by the international management consultancy WorldWork
from responses to its International Profiler online questionnaire tool.
The questionnaire assesses people's strengths and weaknesses among the main
qualities needed for working with people from other countries and cultures.
qualities assessed are those that have been found to be important in international
work, including such skills as ‘active listening', ‘flexible judgement',
‘inner purpose' and rapport'. Together they make up the ‘International Competency
given the highest priority across all responses is ‘Active listening' -
or checking and clarifying what people say by paraphrasing what others say,
‘playing it back' to ensure they have understood.
qualities that were particularly prioritised by women - and also by those
who have lived abroad - included:
‘spirit of adventure' –
being keen to seek out variety and happy to put oneself into uncomfortable
or unpredictable situations;
‘valuing differences' –
enjoying working with people from diverse backgrounds;
‘welcoming strangers – being
keen to make contact with new people, taking an interest in those from
being ‘attuned', or sensitive
to the non-verbal aspects of communications.
‘clarity of communication' – essentially clear oral communications. They
also stress identifying centres of power to get things done (‘sensitivity
to context') and maintaining focus on achieving specific goals, regardless
of pressure to compromise.
Director Julian Clover added: “The higher score for ‘spirit of adventure'
suggests that women relish the challenge of working in a new environment
more than men. Men score higher on ‘new thinking' which involves blending
familiar ideas with new ones.
important not to oversimplify the findings or create stereotypes. Just because
many women give priority to listening it doesn't mean they are not goal-oriented.
Equally, many men value the ‘pull' or ‘outside-in' qualities. However, in
general, the findings are a challenge to any organisation where the number
of women taking on international assignments is low compared to that of
database also shows up contrasts between people of different nationalities.
It contains responses from over 500 people from both the UK and Germany
, over 300 from Italy , over 200 from the USA , over 100 from France and
Mexico and around 50 from India .
rank learning languages lower than anyone else, perhaps reflecting
the fact that English is so widely used in business. However, they score
highly on ‘spirit of adventure' and the data refutes the idea that the British
have a ‘stiff upper lip'. Compared with other European groups, the British
set great store by skills relating to influencing others – such as building
rapport and being attuned to non-verbal cues.
group focus strongly on making contacts with new people – ‘welcoming
strangers' and also show more flexible judgement than the UK and US groups.
But German respondents give less attention to the skills of influencing
than the British group.
show that Americans emphasise ‘inner purpose' more than
any other group, apart from Indians. This means having strong personal values
and beliefs that provide consistency when dealing with the unfamiliar.
respondents gave a very high score to ‘exposing intentions' which
in WorldWork's experience springs from the way that French business culture
values having a very clear rationale for all decisions and requests.
respondents show strong tendencies towards flexibility in behaviour
and judgements and a relatively high willingness to learn languages.
the Indian group gave a lot of attention to ‘flexible behaviour'
and ‘reflected awareness', suggesting a strong tendency to understand how
their own behaviour is perceived and a keenness to fit in with new colleagues
details from the data and the ‘International Competency Set' of qualities
assessed can be found here
or are available from the contacts below:
Clover, 07887 680734; David Vigar 07734 102708