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Essential Ingredients to Navigate Current Global Trends

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Global Trends, Part 2

Global trends are also growing in opposition to globalization. Here are four essential development areas to ensure you are adjusting adequately.

Two Global Trends worth noting

The world has become more inter-connected, but that inter-connectedness has also led to a global growth of nationalism. This growth of nationalism is likely a reaction to the complexity and complications inherent in corporate, cultural, and workforce globalization which everyone must increasingly face, even at home.

There are many forces contributing to this rise of nationalist ideology, but the outcome has generated at least two strong worldwide trends: Authoritarian Populism, and Protectionism.

Authoritarian Populism

Authoritarian Populism is a move to the political right, led by political parties that push an agenda putting original or historically earlier citizens first, and promoting tighter controls on the influx of foreign elements.

This tendency is a global issue that is not just affecting Europe. It is happening across Africa, Middle East, Asia, Latin America and North America.

The tendency to put ‘our people’, ‘our products’, ‘our education’, and ‘our financial security’ first is growing across the globe. Several governments have won elections by focusing on a loss of national identity; for example, the government of Narendra Modi with the BJP, which came into power in May 2014 in India.

This does not just affect national policy and how anything that is foreign is dealt with internally. It also affects cross-border, regional and internal trade in significant ways. In most regions of the world you see a decline in cross-border trade that shows a diminishing lack of trust for products, services and talent that comes from other countries and regions. Some economists warn that diminishing cross-border trade is bad for the overall health of the global economy.


As a result of the rise of Authoritarian Populism, we have seen a sharp rise in the enactment of protectionist legislation, especially in the last few years. When you analyze the nature of these new laws it is clear they serve one purpose: “Protect our own”.

At face-value this seems a natural and logical thing to do, but in our global and interculturally connected world we do not have the luxury to think of ourselves as isolated nations anymore. The host of major issues we face in our world today actually make it essential for nations to work together at levels beyond what we have seen in the past!

Gordon Brown gave a serious warning in his talk at the WEF gathering in Abu Dhabi in 2011 when he said: “If we don’t learn to collaborate, I am afraid we will face a disorderly retreat into a new kind of protectionism that will damage our ability to build on the success of globalization over recent years”. (See the video "The Great Transformation - Shaping New Models", from 48 minutes onward.)

Unfortunately his warning was not taken seriously and we have indeed entered into a new era of protectionism. This has especially been fueled by the new government in the United States and their significant change in foreign policy and international relations. This has already had a ripple effect on other governments who were leaning more toward protectionism, and have been emboldened to pass similar laws.

The result of this has been the growth of challenges in our ability to operate both locally and globally at the same time.

Despite the nationalism-oriented trends we’ve just discussed, there remain strong trends toward, and a mounting need for, the globalization of talent acquisition (as discussed in the previous article in this series). The two types of trends – those toward increasing inter-connectedness, and those in reaction to it – don’t cancel each other out. The danger is that, together, both trends will lead to increased friction that further exacerbates the chances and costs of failure.

As Einstein once said, the challenges of today’s world cannot be solved with the same thinking we used when we created them. We have to elevate our thinking in order to overcome these challenges. In this environment, developing Inter-Cultural Intelligence is more relevant than ever before.

Learning from failure

Most companies do not like to talk about failures, especially when it comes to failures after entering new markets or after mergers and acquisition. But even if a company is bold enough to talk about their failures, the big question to ask is: “Do they know how to analyze those failures from an intercultural perspective?”

One of the most important competencies we address in our Intercultural Leadership coaching and learning is “Perception Management”. How does a leader perceive the intercultural world around them? How do they perceive their own role within that context? How do they analyze what worked, what didn’t work and why? The ability to analyze a situation from an intercultural complexity point of view is either a foreign concept or only superficially addressed in most leadership development.

After leaders are exposed to an intercultural analysis framework, many times after failures, they often say things like: “How in the world could I have made decisions before without this framework?” Being well-informed and empowered to making interculturally relevant decisions is well worth the effort needed to get there.

Four crucial areas for leaders to develop

We want to highlight four key development areas that make a huge difference in your personal and organizational ability to navigate today’s global and complex world. If left unheeded or misunderstood, these four areas trigger unnecessary failures: loss of talent, valuable relationships, resources and opportunities.

Unfortunately, while the consequences of an Inter-Cultural Intelligence shortfall are significant, in many cases they are not identified as such or they are labeled as unimportant.

1. Culturally Agile Leadership