Learning a New Language Will Make You a Better Leader

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I’ve worked with companies to design and deliver language training to their language training programs for over twenty years.  I’ve watched as recent immigrants have learned the basics of English, and I’ve spoken with advanced learners who speak English better than many native speakers I know.  I’ve not only launched programs for native Spanish speakers learning English in the US but also been part of programs for Arabic speakers learners studying German, Russian speakers learning Norwegian, and many others.

Improving Lives and Workplaces through Language Learning

In each case, I can see the impact language instruction is having.  Sharing a common language improves things in the workplace and makes a difference in every part of the learners’ lives.  When your employees need to enroll their children in school, renew their lease, open a bank account, or make a doctor's appointment, the language they’ve learned through work makes all the difference. 

Language Learning: The Employer's Secret Weapon

Employers, whether in the US, Germany, Norway, or anywhere else, are rightly pleased by the success of these programs.  They’re making a difference in their employees’ lives and simultaneously improving their workplace engagement and performance. Suppose you’re one of these employers; congratulations!  But today I want to tell you about one more thing you could be doing.  It makes an enormous difference, with even less effort and expense.  What is it?  It’s as simple as this: in addition to your employees learning your language, you should also learn a bit of their language.  

Speaking Your Employees' Language: The Key to Connection and Engagement

Give it a try.  See what a difference it makes.  Whenever I can, I advise those Americans, Germans, and Norwegians providing language training to their employees to learn a bit of Spanish, Arabic, or Russian while at it.  I’ve never seen such big smiles on employees’ faces as when their manager surprises them by greeting them in their language.  I’ve never seen so few words mean so much.  A month or two is all it takes to show them that you’re all in it together.  I guarantee they’ll think you’re great.  And if you’re worried about making mistakes, not being understood, or embarrassing yourself, welcome to their world.  Your capacity to empathize with them will make you an even better leader.  

If you're interested in offering language and culture training to your organization, we'd love to show you how Global LT can help. Contact us today. 

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