Re: Training Execs for Int'l LO2114

Bernard Girard (
Sat, 15 Jul 1995 10:30:34 +0000

Replying to LO2091 --

Ann Woosley wrote (LO 2091) :

>I am interested in how to train managers/executives to be international
>managers/executives. Does anyone have any experience doing this?

That is a very intersting question. And a difficult one. A lot depends fo
the situation of the manager who comes from a foreign country. If an
american company sends a manager in one of its affiliates in Europe (or
Asia=8A) in a situation that makes him feel like the boss (he is the boss,
or he comes from the mother company=8A), he will most probably have to
be remembered the first rule of management : listening, opening eyes,
trying to understand and respecting people you work with. Which means :
speaking the langage of the people, trying to understand them (it's not
because they are different that they are plain stupid) and fighting agains
the natural arrogance of the tourist who judge everything from his point
of view.

I remember an american boss of the french affiliate of a large Minnesota
company who did not speak french. It was a disaster : he did not
understand what happened around him. It was so easy to hide what one
wanted to hide.

I remember the french affiliate of a japanese company where the boss spoke
only japanese. All communication went through a young man who spoke
english. This japanese company no longer works in France.

I lived in Asia with a French company. We all thought we were much better
than the local people. As we lived together in a compound with our
families, we never had an opportunity to meet and understand people we
worked with. They thought we were arrogant (and we were), rude (and we
were) and inefficient (so were we as we could not make them more

Too many expatriates behave like missionnaires. They are sent to fix
things up. Or so they think. That's the wrong attitude. We all are fed up
with people who give lessons. The first rule for an expatriate is to know
and respect the people he works with. You don't "learn" people in books,
you "learn" them in living with them, listening, helping if necessary.
It's difficult. It means changing. It means taking for granted that people
have good reasons to behave the way they do.

The successful expatriate is the one that tries to learn from people. It's
the only way to have people learn from you.

Bernard Girard