Molinsky, chapters 9-10
Video: Collins, “Drucker Day Keynote”

Please submit by noon on August 24th, a 1-page Max written reflection journal entry and/or summary mind-map drawing upon & connecting each of the readings & Collins’ “Drucker Day Address” on the following topic questions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qZP4kaYcXU (Links to an external site.)

(Continued on back flap)

(Continued from front flap) management

jacket design: alex camlin

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hat does it mean to be a global worker and a true “citizen of the

world” today? It goes beyond merely acknowledging cultural differences. In reality, it means you are able to adapt your behavior to conform to new cultural contexts without losing your authentic self in the process. Not only is this difficult, it’s a frightening prospect for most people and something completely outside their comfort zone.

But managing and communicating with people from other cultures is an essential skill today. Most of us collaborate with teams across borders and cultures on a regular basis, whether we spend our time in the office or out on the road. What’s needed now is a critical new skill, something author Andy Molinsky calls global dexterity.

In this book Molinsky offers the tools needed to simultaneously adapt behavior to new cultural contexts while staying authentic and grounded in your own natural style. Based on more than a decade of research, teaching, and consulting with managers and executives around the world, the book reveals an approach to adapting while feeling comfortable—an essential skill that enables you to switch behaviors and overcome the emotional and psychological challenges of doing so.

US$25.00 / CAN$28.00

“Global Dexterity truly resonates. As an HR executive with over thirty years of experience in global companies, I can see a real advantage in using the book’s tips and techniques to help manage and communicate with

people from around the world!”

—Ted Manley, VP, Total Rewards and HR Operations, Dunkin’ Brands Inc.

“Andy Molinsky shows us that successful leaders crack the code of foreign cultures and adjust their behavior accordingly. Then he explains how it’s done. Global Dexterity is an indispensable guide for managing a globalizing world.”

—STeven a. Rochlin, Member of the Board of Directors and Head of Global Advisory Services, AccountAbility; coauthor, Beyond Good Company and Untapped

“The future will be shaped by people who can effectively live and work across cultural differences. Andy Molinsky provides a series of simple and effective tools

for helping people understand where cultural differences come from and for helping us, as individuals, develop our own capacity to bridge those differences

effectively. Global dexterity is an important concept, and this is an important book.”

—adaM WeinbeRg, President and CEO, World Learning

“Global Dexterity provides a clear road map to conquer the quest for cultural diversity, which is critical in today’s flat world. The self-assessments on identifying

cultural gaps and working on a personal mind-set to overcome them will prove handy to anyone working in a new cultural environment.”

—ManSi Madan TRipaThy, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell India

“Andy Molinsky does a masterful job of demystifying the challenges one faces working in or with other cultures. His book is as insightful as it is practical.

In a world in which you need to both understand and adapt to cultural differences, this is the book to read.”

—MaTThiaS KeMpf, Director, HR Talent Europe, adidas Group

h a r v a r d b u s i n e s s r e v i e w p r e s s

How to Adapt Your Behavior across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process

andy Mol inSKy

G l b a l D e x t e r i t y

From identifying and overcoming challenges to integrating what you learn into your everyday environment, Molinsky provides a guidebook— and mentoring—to raise your confidence and your profile. Practical, engaging, and refreshing, Global Dexterity will help you reach across cultures—and succeed in today’s global business environment.

andy MolinSKy is an associate professor at Brandeis University’s International Business School. He specializes in cross-cultural interaction in business settings and has created a popular MBA course focused on cross-cultural adaptation. He has published widely on the topic of cultural adaptation; his work has been featured by a range of global media outlets including the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, NPR, and Voice of America.

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ISBN-13: 978-1-4221-8727-2

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“I wrote this book because I believe that there is a serious gap in what has been written and communicated about cross- cultural management and what people actually struggle with on the ground.”

—From the Introduction

For the exclusive use of N. Demir, 2017.

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Praise for Global Dexterity

“Thought-provoking with a practical application. Global Dexterity provides critical tools for adapting to a different culture while maintaining one’s authenticity. A definite must- have for every HR professional given our global and culturally dynamic workforce.”

—Patricia Francisco, Director of Human Resources, CRA/ LA-DLA, successor to the former CRA/LA

“Whether you’re traveling abroad, studying internationally, relocating for work, or welcoming foreign employees to your team, Global Dexterity is a must-read for anyone seeking to become a true global citizen. It offers a refreshing perspective that minimizes the focus on mimicking cultural norms to fit in and maximizes the importance of adapting to new experiences without losing the essence of who you are.”

—Lisa B. Sousa, General Counsel, EF Education First

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“Andy Molinsky’s book is spot-on in eye-opening ways, sharing insights as to how to cope with the challenges of transcending cultural differences and using stories to help us learn. I found it a great read—thought-provoking and helpful.”

—Fields Wicker-Miurin, OBE FKC, Leaders’ Quest

“Global Dexterity truly resonates. As an HR executive with over thirty years of experience in global companies, I can see a real advantage in using the book’s tips and techniques to help man- age and communicate with people from around the world!”

—Ted Manley, VP, Total Rewards and HR Operations, Dunkin’ Brands Inc.

“Andy Molinsky shows us that successful leaders crack the code of foreign cultures and adjust their behavior accordingly. Then he explains how it’s done. Global Dexterity is an indis- pensable guide for managing a globalizing world.”

—Steven A. Rochlin, Member of the Board of Directors and Head of Global Advisory Services, AccountAbility;

coauthor, Beyond Good Company and Untapped

“The future will be shaped by people who can effectively live and work across cultural differences. Andy Molinsky provides a series of simple and effective tools for helping people under- stand where cultural differences come from and for helping us, as individuals, develop our own capacity to bridge those differ- ences effectively. Global dexterity is an important concept, and this is an important book.”

—Adam Weinberg, President and CEO, World Learning

FM.indd 2 18/12/12 4:33 PM

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“Global Dexterity provides a clear road map to conquer the quest for cultural diversity, which is critical in today’s flat world. The self-assessments on identifying cultural gaps and working on a personal mind-set to overcome them will prove handy to anyone working in a new cultural environment.”

—Mansi Madan Tripathy, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell India

“Andy Molinsky does a masterful job of demystifying the chal- lenges one faces working in or with other cultures. His book is as insightful as it is practical. In a world in which you need to both understand and adapt to cultural differences, this is the book to read.”

—Matthias Kempf, Director, HR Talent Europe, adidas Group

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G L B A L D E X T E R I T Y

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How to Adapt Your Behavior across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process

ANDY MOLINSKY

Harvard Business Review Press

Boston, Massachusetts

G L B A L D E X T E R I T Y

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Copyright 2013 Andrew L. Molinsky

All rights reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu, or mailed to Permissions, Harvard Business School Publishing, 60 Harvard Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02163.

The web addresses referenced in this book were live and correct at the time of the book’s publication but may be subject to change.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Molinsky, Andy. Global dexterity: how to adapt your behavior across cultures without

losing yourself in the process / Andy Molinsky. pages cm ISBN 978-1-4221-8727-2 (alk. paper) 1. International business enterprises —Management—Cross-cultural studies. 2. Management—Cross-cultural studies. 3. Corporate culture— Cross-cultural studies. 4. Intercultural communication. 5. Diversity in the workplace. 6. Business etiquette. I. Title. HD62.4.M64 2013 395.5’2—dc23 2012041299

ISBN: 978-1-4221-8727-2 eISBN: 978-1-4221-8728-9

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For Jen, Alice, and Ben:

with love and gratitude

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Contents

Preface ix

PART ONE Why Global Dexterity Matters

1 Introduction to Global Dexterity 5

2 Psychological Challenges of Developing

Global Dexterity 23

PART TWO How to Develop Your Own Global Dexterity

3 Diagnose the New Cultural Code 47

4 Identify Your Own Challenges with the

New Cultural Code 71

5 Overcome Challenges by Customizing

Your Cultural Behavior 85

6 Integrate What You Have Learned Through

Rehearsal and Evaluation 109

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viii Contents

PART THREE Fine-Tuning Your Global Dexterity

7 Charting Your Progress over Time 129

8 Getting Others to Forgive Your Cultural Mistakes 139

9 Finding a Cultural Mentor 153

10 Choosing Whether or Not to Adapt Your Behavior 163

Conclusion: The Myth and Reality of

Adapting Behavior across Cultures 173

Notes 183

Index 187

About the Author 199

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Preface

Have you ever lived or worked abroad and had to adapt your behavior to be successful in a new cultural setting? Are you planning on working abroad and curious about how to develop the skills to be effective in your new assignment? Do you lead or manage people who live or work abroad and whose success is critical to the success of your organization? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this book is for you.

Global Dexterity is about learning to adapt your behavior across cultures—no matter what culture you come from, what culture you are going to, or the situation you find yourself in. The purpose of the book is to develop the ability to smoothly and successfully adapt how you act in a foreign setting—so that you are effective and appropriate in that setting without feeling that you are losing yourself in the process. The tools and frame- works that you will learn about in this book come from my decade-long research program about the challenges that man- agers, executives, and employees face when adapting behavior across cultures and from a popular MBA elective course that I have created to help people overcome these challenges, which

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x PrefaCe

manifest themselves in a wide variety of different situations and contexts. For example:

• You’re from the United States and are working in Germany. You need to communicate negative feedback to colleagues much more assertively and directly than you would ever do in the United States.

• You’re from China and are working in the United States. You need to disclose more personal information when making small talk with someone you do not know than you ever would in China.

• You are Japanese and are working in France. You need to speak your mind more assertively at a meeting with your boss than you ever would have done in Japan.

To be effective in situations such as these, you need to adapt. You need to learn to act outside of your personal comfort zone. But adapting your behavior across cultures is often easier said than done. You can feel anxious and embarrassed about not knowing exactly how to behave, and inauthentic and disingen- uous about how awkward and unnatural it feels. You can feel frustrated and annoyed about having to adapt in the first place. Such feelings can be quite a burden. They can leak into your behavior and cause you to act inappropriately. They can also make you want to avoid situations where you have to adapt in the first place—even situations that are important to your professional success.

So, is there a solution? Can you learn to adapt your behavior without feeling like you are losing yourself in the process? It sounds impossible, and that’s what I initially thought when I

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PrefaCe xi

first started working on this topic many years ago. However, what I have learned over the past ten years of researching, interviewing, teaching, and working with a wide variety of professionals from a range of different cultural backgrounds is that it’s not. You can learn to have your cake and eat it too when adapting behavior in a foreign setting.

This book is for anyone interested in improving his or her ability to function more effectively in a foreign cultural set- ting, no matter the culture you come from, the culture you are going to, or the situation you find yourself in. It’s filled with stories and anecdotes of people who have been able to come up with creative ways of adapting their behavior and remaining authentic at the same time—of fitting in without giving in—in situations you would think would be very hard to manage in this way. You will learn how an American-born CEO working in India was able to devise a way of blending his own prefer- ence for a bottom-up, participative style of leadership with the reality that Indian subordinates typically expect and respond more positively to a more top-down, authoritarian style. You will see how a Russian-born consultant in the United States was able to be far more assertive with her boss in the United States than she ever would have been in Russia, but in a way that actually felt consistent with her cultural ideals. You will meet people from Germany, Brazil, China, South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom—people from all sorts of different cultural backgrounds who were able to devise creative ways of adapting to different cultures.

I wrote this book because I believe that there is a serious gap in what has been written and communicated about cross- cultural management and what people actually struggle with

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xii PrefaCe

on the ground. Until now, the vast majority of writing about culture in business has focused on educating people about differences across cultures. For example, you might learn that Swedes are more individualistic than Chinese, or that Germans tend to schedule, arrange, and manage time whereas Mexicans and Indians are more apt to treat time more fluidly. The logic is that if people can learn about cultural differences, they can adapt their behaviors successfully. And for some people, that’s true. Some people are so skilled at managing themselves across cultures that you might call them “cultural chameleons.” They are able to seamlessly blend, unconsciously it seems, and at each turn function smoothly and successfully according to the new cultural norms.

For the rest of us, however, especially those of us who are, for lack of a better term, monoculturals—born and raised in a single cultural environment and now trying to function effec- tively in another culture—cultural adaptation isn’t always so seamless. We might possess knowledge of cultural differences, but we can struggle as we attempt to put this knowledge into practice. That’s where this book comes in. It teaches people who are not bicultural or multicultural by birth how to act effectively in different cultural environments and at the same time to feel authentic, or authentic enough, when doing it.

In this book, you will learn what global dexterity is and why it is a critical skill for you to master, what challenges you will likely encounter when attempting to develop your own global dexterity, and how you can overcome these challenges by learn- ing to customize your own personal approach toward cultural adaptation.

The lessons in this book are applicable to anyone from any culture doing business in any situation—whether on a

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PrefaCe xiii

long-term or short-term assignment overseas, or simply work- ing with people from a different culture in one’s native country. The technique is both universally applicable and customizable. That is, this is not a one-size-fits-all system. The techniques you’ll learn will allow you to adapt your own cultural behavior in a way that works for you. The goal is to help you learn to modify your behavior in a way that does not feel like you are, as one of the people I have worked with memorably put it, “com- mitting a crime against your own personality.”

How I Came to This Book

I first became interested in the subject in the late 1990s, during my PhD studies at Harvard, when I volunteered at a resettle- ment agency in Boston to help immigrant professionals from the former Soviet Union find jobs in the United States. These were smart people with excellent résumés. The problem most of them had was cultural: they simply could not master the American-style assertive and self-promotional behavior neces- sary for job interviews and networking with employers. In fact, what was most enlightening to me about this experience was that it wasn’t the knowledge that they lacked: they all could tell me how you had to behave in the United States and how that differed so significantly from Russia. The problem was trans- lating this knowledge into behavior.

For example, I recall one woman—an extremely experienced engineer with many different graduate degrees in Russia; exten- sive, relevant work experience; and excellent English—who continuously failed at promoting herself in the American inter- view. She knew what to do, but felt “silly” and “foolish” making

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xiv PrefaCe

small talk (in Russia, interviews were much more profession- ally focused only), and felt anxious and embarrassed about her inability to successfully adapt. She told me how much these emotions weighed on her as she attempted to switch her behav- ior and how difficult that psychological experience was for her.

I continued to pursue this interest at my first job as a profes- sor at the University of Southern California, where I encoun- tered a similarly challenging situation of cultural adaptation. We had many bright, talented, and motivated foreign MBA stu- dents from East Asian cultures such as China, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam who were reluctant to contribute their thoughts to classroom discussions and debates, which were an essential part of the MBA program, and which also happened to count for a large percentage of their final grade. These students were motivated, worked extremely hard, and knew how they were supposed to participate in class. But for some reason, they were unwilling—or unable—to actually do it and contribute their ideas. Like the Russians, they struggled to translate what they knew intellectually into effective cross-cultural behavior.

When I turned to the academic literature to solve this puz- zle, I came up empty. Instead of offering advice about how people could overcome cultural differences and learn to adapt behavior in light of cultural differences, what people were focusing on was the differences themselves: how Chinese were different from Russians, or how Russians were different from Japanese. There was little about how people could successfully overcome these differences and learn to adapt their behavior.

In the years since these two formative experiences, I have studied and worked with a wide range of people from the United States and abroad learning to adapt their cultural

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PrefaCe xv

behavior in a variety of different foreign settings. In each case, I have found the essential challenge to be the same: knowl- edge of cultural differences is certainly necessary to be effective abroad, but it is not sufficient. To be truly effective in foreign cultures, you need to develop the global dexterity necessary for translating your knowledge into effective behavior.

Armed with an understanding of these processes and with a passion to try to make a difference in the lives of the many foreign-born professionals I have met throughout the years, I began crafting a set of tools based on my academic research to give people the courage and the skills to develop their own global dexterity. The book you have in your hands is the result of this work.

What’s in This Book

Let me say a few words about the stories and examples you will read about in this book. The vast majority of stories are actual events, as told to me by people I have interviewed or worked with, albeit with a few details changed to protect ano- nymity. A small percentage of stories do not come from one specific source, but are anecdotes that I have crafted to reflect insights from many different people I have studied or worked with throughout the years. I begin each of these composite narratives with “Imagine that . . . ” or “Imagine the following . . . ” to distinguish them from stories told to me by a specific individual.

In all cases, the material is deeply grounded in years of seri- ous study about global dexterity. For the book alone, I have

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xvi PrefaCe

conducted over seventy interviews with professionals about their experiences adapting cultural behavior and about the norms for appropriate behavior in specific countries and cul- tures. The book is also based in my own decade-long research program about global dexterity at Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and Brandeis University. Finally, the book is also influenced by the many informal con- versations that I have had throughout the years with manag- ers and executives at roundtable discussions and seminars, as well as from teaching and working with foreign-born MBA students. I am particularly indebted to these students for the hundreds of conversations we have had about cultural adap- tation. These discussions have been invaluable in helping me craft these ideas around global dexterity and translate them into a series of actionable tools.

Let me also say a brief word about how cultural differences are portrayed in this book. Throughout, you will see examples of cultural differences: that Indians tend to communicate less directly than Germans or that Israelis tend to communicate more directly than Americans, and so on. When I speak about these cultural differences, I am describing prototypical cultural differences, by which I mean the average or typical differences you will find within a population. In other words, if you took the entire population in Israel and were somehow able to assess their communication style, the average style would be more direct than the average communication style of all Ameri- cans. I don’t mean to suggest that all Israelis are more direct than all Americans or that all Indians are less direct than all Americans. That’s simply not true. For example, many Indians actually have a quite direct communication style—perhaps as

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PrefaCe xvii

a result of having lived or worked in the West or from having worked for a multinational company in India. Similarly, plenty of Israelis are less direct than some Americans. So, when I talk about cultural differences in the book, it’s in the spirit of pro- totypes, rather than stereotypes. These differences do exist on average—as you will hear from talking with natives of these countries or from consulting the academic literature. But they do not necessarily define how any particular individual person from a given culture will behave.

My hope is that this book can be a useful resource to help you make better sense of the foreign experiences you have had and to help you have more successful experiences in the future. To that end, at the conclusion of each chapter, I provide a series of personalized tools that you can use to directly apply the lessons from that chapter to your own experience.

I hope I’ve given you a good sense of what’s included in the book and have whetted your appetite for more. I’d also like to give you a quick sense of what’s not included in the book. First, although language is clearly a key issue when crossing cultures, this book is not a language book. I do not talk a great deal about language and the difficulties associated with master- ing a foreign language, even though this is clearly a key part of learning to function effectively in a new cultural setting— something I experienced firsthand as a non-native student in Spain and a working professional in France. I also do not pro- vide detailed rules for how to behave appropriately in every cultural situation you will find yourself in. Believe me, I’d love to do that!—but it’s obviously impossible. What I do provide you with, however, is a method and set of frameworks that you can apply to any situation you face.

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xviii PrefaCe

Finally, although you will find examples throughout the book from both men and women, I do not focus particularly on gender itself as an issue in intercultural interaction. I under- stand and appreciate how women in particular may face special challenges when adapting their behavior across cultures, espe- cially in countries with very different gender roles than their own. From studying this issue for many years and from talk- ing with women about their experiences overseas, my sense is that at a broad level, the framework that I present in this book accounts for these gender issues. For example, women might feel resentful or angry about having to adapt to a set of behav- iors that a female manager would never have to accommodate to in her native cultural setting. Or women in other situations might feel tremendously inauthentic and disingenuous acting in a way that is not only atypical of their native culture, but that also violates their deeply held values and beliefs about how to interact with the opposite gender. These core reactions to the act of switching cultural behavior are not only covered in the book, but are the essence of the framework that I put forth.

I’d like to end this preface with a quote from an American executive who truly understood the importance of cultural adaptation. In making the case for the importance of devel- oping cultural competence, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said:

The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of General Electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires. We have to send our best and brightest overseas and make sure they have the training that will allow them to be the global leaders who will make GE flourish in the future.1

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PrefaCe xix

Do you see what Welch is getting at? He is not necessarily saying that to be successful you need to have a multicultural upbringing. He’s saying that through different experiences in foreign cultural settings, you can develop the global dexterity to be successful. Jack Welch clearly believed in the importance of global dexterity, and I imagine that if you have picked up this book, you also understand its critical importance in today’s business world. So take the leap; start to learn how to operate successfully in a world where cultural differences require changes in behavior. My sincere hope is that this book can be a key building block in your own process of developing global dexterity.

Acknowledgments

I am very grateful to so many friends and colleagues who have helped shape and hone the ideas in this book. First, I would like to thank Richard Hackman, who inspired me to write a book in the first place, and who has always been an inspiration for the type of scholar that I aspire to become. Very early in my career, Richard taught me to study what I care about, what interests me, and what might make a difference in the lives of others. I feel so lucky to have had him as my mentor.

Throughout the years I have also received tremendous assis- tance and feedback from my academic colleagues who have helped me develop and hone my ideas about cross-cultural adaptation, both in this book and in the pages of academic articles. These colleagues include: Paul Adler, Nalini Ambady, Mary Yoko Brannen, Joel Brockner, May Dabbagh, Jane Dut- ton, Marshall Ganz, Adam Grant, Judy Hall, Sally Maitlis,

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xx PrefaCe

Tsedal Neeley, Joyce Osland, Mike Pratt, Ruth Wageman, and Joyce Wang; my business and psychology colleagues at Brandeis—in particular, Ben Gomes Casseres, Sandra Cha, Jane Ebert, Bruce Magid, Brad Morrison, and Detlev Suderow; members of the Boston-area Groups Group seminar at Har- vard University; and participants at the yearly “May Meaning Meeting” group who provided such a supportive and collegial atmosphere for helping me develop these ideas.

I also, of course, owe a debt of gratitude to the many man- agers, employees, and executives who took time out of their schedules to openly discuss their experiences of cultural adapta- tion with me. You made this book possible, and I am grateful for your candor and generosity. As part of the writing of this book, I spoke with more than seventy people from around the globe—working professionals from Mexico, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, India, Nigeria, Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. I found these people through my own contacts as well as through those of my generous colleagues Mark Blecher, Greg Chen, Adam Grant, Sujin Jang, Lynne Levesque, Mark Mortensen, Amy Sommer, and Xin Wang.

Many of the people I spoke with will remain anonymous because I have used their direct stories. However, others whose experiences do not appear in the book but who provided valuable background information about cultural differences include: Mat Abramsky, Adedotun Adebiaye, Noor Al Jallaf, Michel Anteby, Murtala Bagana, Cicero Baggio, Mati Balan, Yoni Balan, João Banzato, Lilia Bikbaeva, Max Blythe, Neel Bungaroo, Andy Carter, Greg Chen, Lu Chen, Jose Chong, Nick Christ, George Chu, Harland Chun, Ilan Dee, Drew

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PrefaCe xxi

Denker, Faustine Ehringer, Markus Englhardt, Miguel Gon- zalez, Barbara Guenther, Alice Gur-Arie, Karim el Quasri, Bob Green, Hideaki Hirata, Jenny Jiang, Zhenling Jiang, Boris Kapeller, Daniel Kim, Jay Kim, Phillippe Le Corre, Juan Lepe, Pedro Llamas, Yong-Taek Min, Gowri Nagaraj, Ije Nwo- komah, Azuka Okofu, Paolo Orozco, Jane Pedersen, Claudia Peus, Dan Pfau, Ergys Prenika, Nan Qu, Bernhard Radtke, Kalpesh Ramwani, Steve Rochlin, Rami Sarafa, Christina Sevilla, Simon Sherrington, Sarah Stuart, Allan Tamen, Perry Teicher, Nils Tessier du Cros, Eric Teung, Jeff Thelen, Toby Uzo, and Michael Zakkour. I also want to thank the hundreds of foreign- and American-born MA and MBA students I have taught and worked with at Brandeis International Business School. You have provided me with tremendous insight into the dynamics of cultural adaptation and with a “living labora- tory” for helping me develop and hone these ideas.

There are many other important people who made this book possible. My editors at Harvard Business Review Press, Melinda Merino and Courtney Cashman, have provided insightful and encouraging feedback throughout the process and have truly been a pleasure to work with. I also want to thank Nihan Celiktas, Debi Choudhury, Jen Molinsky, Steve Molinsky, Beth Schinoff, and Jessy Wang for providing out- standing feedback on earlier drafts of the manuscript, and Bill Bliss for providing key insights into the book-writing process at just the right times.

Finally, this book could never have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family—my mother and father, my brother and my sister-in-law, my in-laws, and my own family and children. My father in particular, given his own publishing expertise writing textbooks that teach English

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xxii PrefaCe

as a second language, has been a tremendous source of wisdom at all phases of this project, providing ongoing feedback about all sorts of issues and always willing to take time out of his own busy schedule to help me. My brother, Eric, who is an accom- plished public radio producer and storyteller, has been a great resource as well, especially about how to tell a good story and connect with an audience. And, finally, my wife, Jen, has been the best partner a book-writing husband could ever ask for. She has supported and encouraged me throughout this pro- cess, provided insightful and encouraging feedback on count- less versions of my ideas, and most important, always believed in me. I never could have written this book without her.

To everyone who contributed to this book: I am forever grateful.

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P A R T O N E

Why Global Dexterity Matters

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I n this first section of the book, you’ll learn what global dexterity is and why it matters. You will meet Eric Rivers, the American-born CEO of an Indian technology firm

in Mumbai, who is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and highly motivated to work effectively in India, but who struggles when switching his behavior to an Indian cultural style. You will meet Feng Li, a Chinese-born management consultant for a major American-based professional services firm in Chicago, who knows that he needs to participate in brainstorming sessions with partners in order to succeed, but who has trouble speaking up, despite the fact that he is highly knowledgeable and has many useful points to contribute. You will meet many others like Eric and Yu who struggle not with learning about cultural differences, but with the ability to actually translate this knowledge into effective behavior—what I call global dexterity. The first chapter explains why global dexterity is so critical in today’s global economy, and in the second chapter, I explain why, despite its great importance, global dexterity can be such a challenging skill to master.

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C H A P T E R 1

Introduction to

Global Dexterity

Eric Rivers was pacing back and forth in his office. He poured himself a cup of coffee but then immediately threw it out; the tea was much better in Mumbai. Eric asked his assistant to get him a cup of chai, then decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to clear his head. He passed by a brand-new school, a few businesses selling t-shirts and electronics, and a large open construction site where two elderly men were walk- ing their cows the way Eric used to walk his dog back in Los Angeles. It had been three months since Eric had moved to Mumbai, and he was still getting used to it all.

Eric had been hired six months earlier to lead the division of a global consulting firm offering strategic advice to technology firms in the fast-growing Indian market. He saw amazing pos- sibilities for what he could achieve; that was why he decided to forgo more conventional work opportunities in the United States.

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6 ANDY MOLINSKY

Eric felt like he was doing everything right in his attempt to adapt to the Indian cultural environment. A seasoned leader with extensive management experience in the West, he was eager to bring his American management philosophy to this vibrant developing economy. His philosophy had two key elements. The first was empowerment, which Eric felt was a universal idea that transcended cultural boundaries. In the past, Eric had worked for many different bosses, and the ones he respected the most had worked hard to inspire their workers to succeed by giving them opportunities to develop skills, make decisions for them- selves, and contribute to the firm. Eric also deeply believed in a flat hierarchy: in being highly collaborative and involving his employees in as much of the decision making process as possible.

Eric put his philosophy into action as soon as he arrived in Mumbai. First, instead of taking an office with a door in the corner of the building as he noticed other managers in the building had done, he took a cubicle right in the “trenches” with his fellow employees. That way he would not be seen as an arm’s-length, unapproachable leader, but as someone who was willing to get his hands dirty and figure things out with the team. Eric also decided to engage his employees in the process of making key strategic decisions. One of Eric’s best manag- ers in Los Angeles would always involve her employees in the strategic decision-making process. Rather than pretending that she had all the solutions, she would include employees as she herself was trying to work through challenging strategic issues. Her view was that employees who were often closest to the “action” also had very important ideas to contribute to the dis- cussion. Also, by involving them in the process, she could help mentor employees in the process of how to make a decision,

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GLOBAL DEXTERITY 7

which she believed was a valuable skill to teach anyone. Thus, whenever his Indian employees came to Eric with a problem, Eric patterned his approach after his mentor’s. He would not pretend that he had all the answers; instead, he would invite them into the decision-making process.