Forbes article: Ten Ways Travel Can Make You a Better Business Leader
My first piece for Forbes.com! Read it here.
Want to be successful in business? Then better get some travel experience on your resumé to go with the top schools, the amazing internships and spectacular references.
The Brightspark Edu-Travel report found that 94 per cent of American business leaders agree that “being well-travelled provided them with a competitive advantage in the workplace.
In the old days well-off young men and women travelled the continent and it’s a tradition that lives on in Commonwealth countries where young people take a “gap year” between high school and college.
Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30ceo.com agrees. He said, “If you’re growing a global company, it really helps in the world of technology.” He mentioned two trips that left a memorable impression on him and have helped him as an entrepreneur. The first was a trip to Bangkok when he was 14. “You feel like you’re in a whole other world, different religion, different food.” Another experience was again when he was 14. “I was an eagle scout and I led a group into the Florida Keys.” He credits that trip with teaching him leadership skills that he uses today.
So what can travel teach future leaders and entrepreneurs?
We don’t just mean verbal communication, we mean all types of communications. Travel puts you in situations where you may not be able to speak the language. Sometimes it means charades, a language dictionary and the willingness to look ridiculous. Being able to communicate despite language barriers will be an asset especially if you create or work for a global company.
Travelling also gives people a common bond and allows people to connect over recollections. In other words, it’s a great networking tool.
Travelling with a friend can be the ultimate test of friendship but it teaches compromise, empathy, collaboration and negotiation – all good business skills.
3. Cultural Awareness
Travelling teaches you about different cultures and social norms. This has become valuable knowledge as the global economy has gone mobile and we work with people from all over the world.
4. Inspiration and Creativity
There’s the saying, “Think outside the box.” Travel lets you think outside your borders. Wilson said his travels have created a willingness to explore new opportunities and to be inspired by a different environment.
5. Decision Making
Travel is all about making decisions and living with the consequences. It means weighing the pros and cons, identifying goals and creating a path to achieve those goals. We don’t have to point out how important that skill is in the business world, do we?
6. Time Management
All you need to do is miss one flight and we promise your time management skills will improve. Travelling is about schedules, organization and following up on the small details. Once all that is done, then the trip becomes fun.
Business is all about change and if they don’t adapt, they go out of business. Eighty-five per cent of business leaders polled felt that their student travel experiences gave them an appreciation of other cultures and the confidence to try things even if it means failure.
8. Problem Solving
Travel teaches people to be constantly aware and be able to solve any unexpected problems that might happen like a snowstorm or a missing passport. These skills transfer to the workforce. Hopefully without a snowstorm.
9. Stress Management
If it’s one thing travel teaches you it’s how to deal with people. From the cranky TSA agents to the the flight attendant working on his last nerve, you’re going to run into people having a bad day. Learning how to deal with them is the single most important thing you can learn to advance your business career.
We’ve mentioned it before but we’re saying it again. Travel opens up new horizons and encourages people to step out of their rut. This can translate to business leaders being willing to challenge the status quo and be the ones to invoke change.
Travel can be an invaluable if sometimes painful way to see yourself as others see you but the benefits will always outweigh any transitory embarrassment.