While visiting a small town in Indiana, I talked with the local manager of a small grocery store who explained to me that it is cheaper for him to import eggs from South America than to buy them only fifty miles away. “It is a crazy world!” he exclaims. I think to myself that this is only the beginning of his exposure to international competition.
Global leadership involves people’s embracing risk and adventure in a globally competitive, business setting. The Olympics movement brings together competitors who train to take risks along with the adventure of the sport. Similarly, global business players attempt daily to “capture the gold” of market share and a high return on investment. Preparing for risk and adventure paves the way for today’s global leaders.
When I created and established an Oxford Study Program at Oxford and, later, collaborated in creating a MBA program in Russia, I took the necessary risks as I pursued adventure. To fully participate in these programs, my students needed to ask for help to understand more about the culture, to establish good working relationships, and to manage risk. Some people do not perceive the need to engage in preparation for international relationships. Isolationists must realize that present international business competition affects everyone. Consumers experience the effects of international business when they purchase less expensive imports originating from a country that most people could not find on a map. But most consumers have little interest in global business.
Christians who take the Great Commission seriously demonstrate a global interest. They understand this command may call them to leave the comfort of their cultures to take the risk and adventure of conveying the love of God to others: “For God so loved the world . . .” God loves the entire globe. The Christian leader who integrates belief with vocation realizes the mandate of engaging and entering into cultures globally. Doing so requires sensitivity and understanding.
How can you prepare to engage another culture? Taking a mission trip through your church or university will begin the process of engaging another culture. Before taking such a trip, here are some tips:
- Learn some of colloquial phrases of the culture to which you are going, especially “please” and “thank you.” Learning to speak and listen to a foreign language will help you connect with the culture; and
- Research the destination’s geography and historical political landscape. Look for places to visit other than general, tourist locations. For example, find out where the “locals” go to eat and relax. Seek some hidden adventures to discover.
Travelling to other countries to understand their cultures is imperative if you want to become a global leader.
How can you get started in international business? Seek out international work situations. Global leaders may get involved in business as a technique for visiting some countries in which Christian missions are not welcomed. The Apostle Paul knew that business—tentmaking—could support his missionary journeys. Philip helped the Ethiopian eunuch and government official understand the Scriptures. Here’s what you can do:
- If you are a college student, obtain a practicum or internship with an international company that does business in another country. Investigate the possibilities for getting work experience through the international company. Study abroad for a semester will facilitate your understanding of another culture;
- Go work in another culture with a mission “sending” group or a parachurch organization. Several large organizations offer these opportunities; and
- Go to an international trade show. If you are interested in a particular line of business, investigate the time and venue of its next international trade show.
A global leader may want to develop some helpful traits for better international leadership:
- The desire to take risks and pursue adventure
- The desire to achieve a level of trust with other people in another culture;
- The ability to set aside prejudgments and ego; and
- The ability to observe and understand how leadership is exerted in another country.
Leaders win the competition in international business by providing leadership that inspires creativity and innovation in others and an international organization. Innovation often comes through creative use of accumulated knowledge enhanced by new ideas. The creative process is a gift from a creative God who wants to work with and through us, reaching out to the world.
Global business leadership is a global imperative for the Christian in today’s competitive business arena. Preparation for embracing risk with adventure depends upon faith and knowledge. The integration of biblical faith and knowledge will position the Christian to lead others in reaching out to others in the world. The business arena may provide the platform for developing relationships in which truth rules in ethical decision making. Christians carry the torch of God’s love like the runner who enters the Olympics to light the Olympic torch that stands as a beacon of the adventure of competition. I am commanded—called—to love others as myself and to go into the world as a critical participant to shine God’s light through my global business leadership.