Having the opportunity to travel internationally has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences I’ve ever enjoyed. There is no better way to gain a better understanding of different cultures than by being immersed in them. Each year Lane and I travel to London to lead an human-centered design and leadership class with students from Haslam College of Business at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This city is a melting pot of so many cultures and experiences. I am always amazed by the people that we meet and the lessons learned—they are both pure inspiration!
That fact is, travel gives us all countless opportunities to learn about human-centered leadership—and these opportunities can make us better leaders. Here are some of the things I have learned about human-centered leadership through traveling abroad.
The Value of Cultural Diversity
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is the value of cultural diversity. Too often, we limit ourselves to our own beliefs and values without considering how other people live and think. By visiting different countries and experiencing other cultures firsthand, we are better able to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity that is just not possible by simply studying books or watching movies. This appreciation has enabled me to become a better leader by allowing me to understand and empathize with people from different backgrounds more easily.
The Power of Perspective
Another lesson that traveling abroad taught me was the importance of perspective. No matter where you go in this world, people view things differently based on their unique experiences and environment. This can be both challenging and inspiring for a leader because it means that every situation must be approached with an open mind and an understanding that there may be multiple solutions to any given problem. By learning how to take into account different perspectives, we can become more effective at making decisions that are well-informed and considerate of various stakeholders involved in any given situation.
The Need for Adaptability
Finally, traveling overseas has taught me the importance of adaptability as a leader. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare or how much you plan – sometimes your best laid plans will go out the window when faced with unexpected circumstances abroad. You must always be willing to adjust your expectations or approach depending on the situation at hand if you want to get the most out of any experience while abroad (and in life!). Being able to remain flexible even in demanding situations is instrumental in helping developing as a leader as well as a more capable and happy traveler overall!
While I never traveled abroad in my youth, I now see the true value and lessons that can be learned about life and leadership. However, I cannot think of any more valuable than those related to human-centered leadership including cultural diversity, perspective taking, and adaptability. By taking these lessons into account when leading others, business leaders can create an environment that is conducive for success and progress regardless of what challenges they may face along the way! With this knowledge under your belt, it’s time to start planning your next international adventure!