In our globalized economy, we’re still facing the same challenges that we faced decades ago as far as the language barrier is concerned. But in reality, technology has helped us find different ways of solving this problem. And one great approach is to promote multilingualism to drive global leadership.

Learning a new foreign language is an investment, but did you know that language skills also improve global leadership skills? Although conducting business in a common language minimizes the risk of misunderstandings, global leadership skills extend far beyond the ability to speak a common language.

When leaders speak more than one language, they can manage a diverse global team of employees and business partners. Multilingualism also enhances the effective leadership skills of global leaders by expanding the way people communicate and are perceived by audiences.

How Important is Language in Leadership?

In the art of leadership, language is used to make decisions, resolve conflicts, implement practices, measure results, and share innovations and creative ideas with others. As with any other skill, leadership skills require learning, developing, and practising. A leader’s ability to impact their local area and other countries relies on their ability to communicate clearly. In essence, languages are management tools that global leaders have at their disposal.

What is a Global Leadership Skill?

Global leadership relates to managing in a global market where different cultures, economic systems, and laws have emerged. It is about identifying ways of working in different environments in the pursuit of the common goal of the company. A recent CLO media report says leaders should understand other people’s diverse cultures and languages. The leadership must have global awareness.

Language Skills Improve Communication Skills

Language learning enhances the ability of successful leaders to communicate not just in a new language but also in their mother tongue. This is because multilingualism teaches them to analyze their first language from different angles, which leads to discovering differences and similarities within the new language. It also promotes a deeper understanding of other cultural intelligence within their culturally diverse workforce in the business world.

It Builds Strong Global Connections

Let’s take business in China as an example. Here, personal relationships are vitally important in business. This means that foreigners who speak Mandarin and understand Chinese culture have more significant opportunities to build strong partnerships with Chinese brands. The same rings true for any other culture. Leaders who speak two or more languages can communicate with others without language interpretation, which makes it easier to build strong connections.

It Enhances Economical Value

An economic value comes with language skills and learning other languages, evident in the Swiss culture. The competitive advantage gained from the multilingualism present in Switzerland makes up roughly 10% of the GDP. And that highlights how important languages are to the Swiss domestic labour market. Leaders who work in a highly competitive environment face unprecedented challenges and can master additional languages as a critical differentiator to seize internal and external opportunities.

Language Learning Strategies Demonstrates Respect

Language learning requires severe amounts of commitment, and in essence, this serves as a mark of respect. Learning a language as an adult is no easy feat, so prospective business partners will likely appreciate the sentiment of language learning attempts. It’s a respectful demonstration that shows a willingness to cooperate, and this endears leaders to clients. Demonstrating that you’ve gone to the next level of commitment through native language communication increases business opportunities.

What Are Some Creative Ways to Approach Language Learning?

It’s important to note that motivation is vital to learning a new language. Don’t make one of the most common language learning mistakes by thinking that you need to approach the learning process with a one-size-fits-all approach systematically.

Take some time to learn about topics you’re passionate about in the language you’re studying. If you enjoy reading comic books or knitting, acquire reading materials in the language to pick up new vocabulary as you indulge in your favourite hobby. Your passion for the topic or hobby will keep you going as you focus on flexing your language abilities.

Many strategic language learning students approach language studies as a science and an art. Reading up on scientific literature on language learning, memory, and linguistics might prove valuable in this regard. You can also research scientifically proven techniques and tools that will enable you to study more effectively.

Another thing to keep in mind is the real-life application of your language learning. Please pay attention to native speakers’ expressions within specific contexts and what gestures they use to support their communication styles. Dictionaries and textbooks teach you the grammatically correct version, but not the natural uses of speech from native speakers.

Wrapping Up

Multilingual leaders are increasingly valued and highly sought after. These professionals are better equipped to handle global business relationships and internal teams. Language learning can significantly benefit global leadership skills.

Given that linguistic diversity has such a powerful economic impact, it’s heartbreaking that so many languages are at risk of extinction. However, by promoting language learning, global leaders have an opportunity to change this outlook.

Leaders who speak multiple languages can access more resources and strengthen new and old business ties. Many of the world’s global leaders have learned that love can effortlessly manoeuvre in another language, and it’s advantageous for everyone involved.

Leaders who speak various languages can address problems with different perspectives and unique solutions since they have another method of understanding context and culture.

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Milos Milosevic

Milos is an experienced language professional and communication strategist, based in Bergamo, Italy. He is skilled in content development and promotion, translation and localization, and productivity. He is proficient in English, Italian and the Western Balkans languages.