I ran into an old colleague doing an international assignment last week. We
caught up on old times and acquaintances. It was fantastic.
I have traveled the globe for the last 20 years, this guy has lived it. Permanent
assignments in over five countries. You would think one could not get more
cultural awareness and virtual leadership practice than that! But then we
started an interesting debate. I subscribe to the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000
hours of “ice time” philosophy (Outliers 2008) in that just because a person is a recreational
hockey player for 15 years does not necessarily mean they accumulated 10,000 of
ice time. In this debate, is it possible that a person could live
internationally and not have fully experienced, visited, read, watched the
movies and learned everything about places they live in? Could it be that
someone could be working “geographically dispersed” but not have used the full
set of virtual tools, understand the context of distance, read about virtual
constraints and implemented strategies to overcome them, and devised methods
for building trust among dispersed teammates?
was an interesting discussion with my friend asking me if a can sum up the
difference in one word. I said yes – to truly get the 10,000 hours a
person would need a veracious “curiosity.” That is what I seek when
recruiting people for international assignments. Technical domain expertise is
only one of the three pillars to international assignment success. Virtual
Leadership and Cultural Awareness/Language being the others.
you considered the difference between 10 years’ experience and 10,000
experiences when you talk to people? Can you tell the difference of those
that have gone out and experienced the world?
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