Skills You Will Need to Head an International Enterprise

by Jeremy


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In today’s overly competitive business world, owners of small and medium-sized businesses are leaning towards global expansion. This makes it essential for managers to hire employees who have what it takes to head their businesses internationally.

As globalization penetrates further, more and more businesses are becoming multinational. The thrill of venturing into new markets and cultures is more significant than ever. It’s a whole new world out there, and this new frontier brings new sets of challenges.

From navigating cultural differences to dealing with time zones and differences in work ethics, leading an enterprise on an international level is a whole new ball game that requires its own set of unique skills.

The only thing standing between you and the enterprise’s global reach is your lack of relevant skills. With that in mind, it’s time to step up your game and strengthen your expertise by learning a few new tricks.

Business Acumen

Business acumen refers to having a basic understanding of what it takes for a company to be profitable. While a degree from a prestigious university can open doors for you, it does not guarantee success. You need to understand the basics, like income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, if you are going to advance within the company and be successful internationally.

The best way to gain these skills is by earning an MBA, ideally an online MBA degree, from a top-tier university or making bones at a reputable company in your field.

You’ll need a high level of business acumen to understand what’s going on in the global business world and the countries where you operate. That will help you make decisions that are right, timely, and relevant for the success of your company and the country where it operates.

Strong communication skills

Communication is a crucial skill to master for any international executive. The refinement of the art of communication is in knowing how to speak to people from different cultures. You will have to be sensitive and adapt your communication style to suit the culture of the people you are working with.

For example, it’s not appropriate in some cultures to confront someone or a problem directly; you would need to learn to use tact and diplomacy to address the issue without offending.

You will need strong leadership skills. The executive is responsible for leading by example and motivating the staff in times of hardship to build cohesiveness in the teams and divisions.


It is an essential skill for any leader of an international enterprise. It shows your respect for cultural diversity within your organization; therefore, taking time to learn the language of the people you work with can have a charming effect, setting the stage for future business success.

To conduct business overseas, you must maintain at least a basic grasp of the native language of the country where you wish to do business. Your ability to speak, read, and write in more than one language broadens your options.

However, this is an added advantage and not a must-have for a successful international enterprise. To gain strong language skills, take advantage of study abroad programs offered through your university or participate in an internship program in another country.


Adaptability is another essential skill for leaders of an international enterprise. People from different countries have different ways of doing things and varied attitudes toward work ethics in general. A good leader can adapt their approach to suit the demands of any situation within the organization without sacrificing their personality or values.

Emotional Intelligence

While technical skills and expertise are essential, they are not enough when it comes to leading a global organization. You will need emotional intelligence as well. Emotional intelligence encompasses things like self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy.

According to Daniel Goleman, author of the book “Leadership That Gets Results,” the ability to read social cues and understand how people will react to different situations is a critical skill for leaders in international organizations.

Another way of looking at it is that emotional intelligence involves being aware of how others are feeling and then using that information to guide your behavior. This can be particularly important in international organizations where employees speak different languages and come from different cultures.

People who can sense how others are reacting to them and adjust their behavior accordingly will be more successful than people who lack this people-reading skill.

Decision-making ability

Decision-making is one of the essential skills sought in any business leader. Good decisions will help you reach your goals early, while bad choices will lead to delays or avoidable repercussions.

Initiative and drive

You must have the initiative and drive to run an international enterprise successfully. If your employees see that you’re willing to go above and beyond for your business, they’ll be more likely to do so.

Strategic thinking

The top person in any organization is responsible for ensuring that their business has a clear vision for the future, regularly evaluates how it is performing, sets goals for growth, and has strategies for reaching them.

The CEO must have the ability to think strategically about how to achieve these goals and take into account all of the factors that could impact them from both within the organization and without. This involves considering a broad range of possible outcomes and picking the best ones based on available evidence.


To head an international enterprise—a company that can and does operate in multiple countries—you will need a diverse range of skills. First and foremost, take an encompassing vision of the global markets. Since business practices, laws, and regulations differ from country to country, your business is also required to make cultural adaptations as it makes a move to expand globally. A visionary leader can combine analysis and intuition with the ability to develop synergies between different markets and cultures.

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