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Do you and your members see value in your association’s international growth?  Below are a few things you need to do to prepare for global thinking and action.  Why global thinking?  This is critical because markets are interdependent due to their relationships with other markets as well as the growing influence of technology every single day.

Develop a global mindset first. Familiarize yourself with the Global Mindset® leadership concept of Thunderbird School of Global Management.  The definition of the Global Mindset is influence across organizations, systems and cultures unlike the leaders.  The Global Mindset helps leaders become not only culturally aware but knowledgeable, strategic, confident and diplomatic. Hence this is a very comprehensive and scientifically researched leadership concept for the executives of internationally growing organizations.

Work with a human centered business model. Association executives need to know how to analyze the decision making rationale of customers, members, key stakeholders and their staff as well as board members.  A good level of alignment needs to be achieved among all these human aspects of the organization to be able to articulate the comparative advantage of the association and help achieve highest potential engagement in its activities from its customers, members and stakeholders.  The importance of strategic thinking has multiplied in our interconnected world as has the importance of creative thinking and agility that support strategic thinking.  However, good research will help identify different growth and communication scenarios preparing the association for the very dynamic and complex world of global business.

Cultural awareness is important and becomes most functional when it results in curiosity.  Firstly, cultural awareness is important because associations are not viewed in the same way in different countries.  The American association concept for instance is very much rooted in the U.S. American culture and experience.  Secondly, to be able to connect well emotionally which is the path to long term collaborative potential as well an open mind, association executives need to become self-aware, curious about the other and diplomatic to be able to integrate different perspectives in pleasant and productive ways.  Cultural awareness training needs to be experiential to be able to fully debrief experiences in relation to learners and prepare them well for the real world.

Be prepared for international ventures and partnerships. Associations may grow in various different ways in new markets including partnerships and even mergers.  To be prepared for negotiations executives need to familiarize themselves with the Global Mindset and become culture-aware ahead of negotiations.  This will require only a minimum investment compared with what can go wrong or undermine performance during and after negotiations.  Once decisions are made about partnerships it is critical to engage in global team building processes that help all sides become culturally aware and also agree on the key elements of high performance global teams like agreeing on vision and values, goals, communications, meeting management and conflict management processes.  Coaching and even peer-to-peer coaching should be engaged to maximize return on organizational and professional development efforts.

Associations need to educate themselves on the importance and elements of global trust building to guide their members. As the world globalizes companies are quick to jump into opportunities.  However, for these ventures to be successful in the long-term the leaders of these businesses need to understand the anatomy of global trust building.  Being able to demonstrate guidance in this to their members is a great opportunity for associations and will add to the long term success of the associations’ efforts locally, internationally and globally.

With globalization offering so many opportunities as well as challenges or pitfalls I see many opportunities for transparent and global minded association management, and believe that these efforts will lead to globalization efforts that contribute to local wealth, social engagement, environmental health and stability enhancing the value of associations in return.

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