Being a Glocal Manager

Sep 28 10:56 2009 Lily C.L. Lau Print This Article

Do you know what is GLOCAL? Discover how you can succeed in today's new economy by functioning effectively in the international arena.


To succeed in today’s new economy,Guest Posting managers must function effectively in the international arena.  It is a serious mistake to assume the successful strategies we use in the domestic business can apply to the international setting. Even though English language is widely used as the common language, the mindsets, expectations, what is right or wrong, underlying assumptions and ways to achieve the shared goals by both parties may not necessarily the same.

The internet, search engines and 3G telecommunications have revolutionized the way business is done today. To survive in the global knowledge economy, all organizations must develop a global mindset. To be global, one must equally be local and that is the understanding of national cultures, values and the ways of doing business in different nations. 

Do you know:

ü  What is Glocal?

ü  What are the competencies required of a manager to function effectively in the global marketplace?

ü  What are the challenges faced by organizations in developing managers to have the ability to think globally and act locally and appropriately at the same time?

 Think Global & Act Local!

That’s the way to globalization and doing business in the borderless and flat world today. We are always switched on, at anytime, anywhere as long as our laptop is at hand. We are connected in multiple ways – Mobile phone, MSN, Skype, teleconferencing, email, SMS, etc and information can be obtained at the clicks of a mouse. Do all these gadgets make you more effective as a manager in managing your work?  Possibly. You may be working within teams and companies, with colleagues in different offices in different parts of the world. This demands a new set of skills and behavior of you as a manager.

Firstly, you must examine your own cultural realities and how your root or values affect your management style at the workplace. By culture, Asians are relationship oriented and that forms the basis of the way businesses are done. However, in the global arena, accomplishing task is the end result that is measureable and that is likely to be what your business counter-part wants to see. As a result, you need to be sensitive to the differences and nuances of people in different cultures.

Another example, in communicating with your counter-part through emails and telecommunication, you need to speak in a clear and direct manner in transpiring your thoughts and opinions. You may even need to ‘argue’ or ‘debate’ your points in bringing your message across and you no longer can speak in the high context mode, assuming that is your standard mode. In business, speed is essential and time is of essence. Therefore, the global environment requires you to be timely, assertive and task oriented. 

On the contrary, your real work situation may practice respect for elders, collectivistic orientation, the importance of harmonious relations and concern for face saving and these values could pose barriers to work efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness at the global workplace. Hence, when a manager operates at the international level, he must understand and know the use of right blend of which cultural dimensions to maximize for desired results.    

Competencies of a Manager

The values that are required of a manager to be globally competitive are global thinking, speed, customer focus, responsiveness, up-to-date information, value added work output, quality, cost effectiveness, timeliness and many others. In line with the values, the competencies required of a manager to function effectively at the global workplace include cross – cultural communication skills, developing multi – cultural teams, building strategic alliances and create sensitivities to cultural differences. Often our managers are not prepared to deal with such multiple complexities as their local management orientation is operating at a different dimension.  

Globalization refers to the advancement of a “global mentality” – a borderless world through the use of information technology to create partnerships across the globe to deliver value-added services and products. It means a person can be a world citizen in spite of having a national identity.  The dual identity requires the person to be adaptive in the global environment and at the same time, flexible to the local situation so that you can act appropriately.

Challenges of Organizations

Management theories which have originated in the West often have a cultural infrastructure which may not be universally available across cultures. While common principles of management such as planning, organizing, leading and motivating and infrastructure such as technology and processes are universal, specific managerial functions are culture-specific. The way managers perform on the job and integrate the managerial processes and functions tends to vary, based on the needs of organizations. Very often, it tends to reflect the cultural and historical developments of the local indigenous society in which the organization functions. Hence, the main differences lies in how these “universal” principles interact with human behaviors which are reflected in the way people from different cultures think and act.

Importing foreign ideas and concepts can only be successfully implemented if they are congruent and in harmony with local aspirations and beliefs. If not, these imported concepts will remain as knowledge and it cannot be fully internalized.  There must be “buy in” from the local workforce in shifting of mindset and preparation for continuous improvement as change cannot happen overnight.


The way forward is by becoming GLOCAL and as stated by Dr. Asma Abdullah in the book Going Glocal,” it is the way of integrating and achieving global targets with local touch”. The process involves:

  • Removal of extreme interpretations of cultural practices;
  • Replace non-productive rituals and work processes;
  • Improve and strengthen positive values which can be harnessed at the global workplace; and
  • Planting new values and practices for a healthy growth.

Despite the changes in the economy, some of the challenges are new, and some are timeless. How to deal with globalised markets, manage international customers and multi – cultural teams are novel. The principles of management must be constantly reviewed according to time and local environment. It’s the same old people with renewed mindset in whole new world.

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About Article Author

Lily C.L. Lau
Lily C.L. Lau

Lily Lau is the fast becoming leading trainer and facilitator in Asia. She is the Culture Synergy Cultivator, specialising in cross and inter-cultural management, building corporate culture and team diversity, expatriate and transfers orientation and influential communication.

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