The foreign language and the ability to lead

At present, it is essential that executives speak more languages than the native language. As a rule, English is a must. This only applies to executives outside the English-speaking countries. I hardly know anybody from such countries who try to learn a foreign language. Surprisingly, the country-specific characteristics of the ordinary English language are so different that there are mutual and sensitive misunderstandings in communication, despite the common mother tongue. Even correctly, those fellow human beings do not save criticism of “strangers” if they make mistakes in their efforts. For me, two crucial questions arise. Are managers capable of mastering more than their mother tongue, and do they have to learn the foreign language correctly?
The first question is easy to answer. Clearly yes, because anyone who can think in multiple languages, rethinks the content more profoundly and globally. Tasks and challenges are automatically considered from different perspectives. The second question is much more complicated. Because native language words are linked to a particular context and emotional message, we do not think in everyday use how to build our sentences. That would be too exhausting and expensive. It is different from the foreign language. There we have to choose every word, every sentence minutely. We need to assign words a context and an emotional message. This forces us to question the meaning of the words from our mother tongue because we have to translate! If we are good executives, then even though our alleged weakness, we will force our employees to deal with what we are saying more accurately and sustainably. Why that is so is logical. We form new, unfamiliar sentences that do not fit into the familiar pattern of understanding the mother tongue. With our bad English, we force you so to say to learn a foreign language. You also need to question your words and sentences in context and emotionally to understand us. I know you do not like it at all! But believe me, it’s for your benefit. By the way, most bosses in big international corporations do not speak perfect English.

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