Will working abroad make you a stronger leader?


What makes a person a better worker and an astute leader? The ability to comprehend, analyse, empathise, organise, manage and lead are theoretical standard requirements of a leader. What makes one stands out from the pack?

In every organisation, we see people being selectively promoted, climbing corporate ladders so-to-speak and being munificently handed the task to lead organisations with global footprints. The selection of the right candidate to lead does not simply base on academics or seniority alone. Most time the endowed person is an ‘all rounder’, exposed to multi-nation organisational culture and one who recognises the intrinsic multinational layers in the system.

A person who had worked abroad has the following exposures and surely had capitalised on the sheer opportunity to learn and grow out of their embedded cultural boundaries.

In today’s organisation, there is no one size fits all. Speaking of globalisation, matrix reporting structures, fishnet organisation or innovative growth within an organisation, all demands unique qualities in its leaders. Cross border management skills are perfected by the externalisation of embracing diverse culture and the willingness to take risk. A person who had travelled and lived abroad is more willing and open to the concept of accepting uncertainties. Living in a new culture, amongst unfamiliar languages and street names improves the cognitive and behaviour of the person to be more tolerant and eager to learn. There is no denying that this exposure polished up a potential leader to better understand and work with employees of multiple cultures and languages.

Unique to a person who had the ability to learn and adapt, this trait becomes natural when it comes to adapting to today’s organisational changes and challenges. A person who had lived abroad doesn’t give up easily as they had learnt to endure and overcome pricks and needling from their experiences. They would had endured frustration at least their 1 st 3 months of simply trying to understand the locals, their language and getting around in a new society, making minor insignificant chores such as getting the right grocery or hailing the right public transport a task to conquer.

As opposed to the benefits of working abroad, the challenges are small and learnable in a short time such as navigating the street, getting use to the culinary habits, speaking and understanding local cultures.

Leaders are made and not born, is a saying that supports what organisation sees in their undertakers. For people who had worked abroad, they sure will agree that it was a lifetime enhancing move worth their time because those experiences are priceless. To those who are contemplating a move abroad, take the leap, make your first move, be a lifetime student; the payback is humongous.

“For the entirety of my corporate life, I worked in multinational companies with huge global footprints. When I looked at the most successful leaders in my organizations, they all had one thing in common aside from the core competencies required of all senior leaders: They all had experience living and working outside of their country of origin – India Martin wrote in Forbes.”


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References from the web to substantiate the writer’s subject.
Quoting from source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/02/16/five-
Other reference : https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/mar/17/go-and-work-abroad-it-

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