2 out of 4 stars
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In a nutshell, in her book, The Importance of Soft Skills For Global Managers, Samanthani Singh discusses on the importance of a society’s culture to a multinational company (MNC). She gives the example of a few MNCs’ experiences in India, which offers “an attractive proposition for American and European businesses of all varieties,” to better explain this fact. This is mainly because India has a huge population and has English as its official language. Consequently, the failure of several multinational companies there, however, means that new strategies of entering foreign markets need to be devised. And chief among these strategies is the upskilling of global managers.
In Part 1, Cultural Knowledge, Singh goes on to give examples of companies that failed in India over the recent past. She cites the major problem to these failures as the “global managers’ inability to combine the corporate mentality” and the culture of the new territory.
Part 2, Ethics, on the other hand, illustrates how people skills (soft skills) and emotional intelligence help a manager adapt to his socio-cultural environment. In more detail, the socio-cultural environment is a broad term that encompasses the “legal, ethical, contextual, social, and communication” aspects that guide an individual’s or organization’s activities and decisions. To close this section, Singh gives the case study of Enron, whose ethical failures included abuse of power and irresponsible behavior toward its investors and employees.
Lastly, in Part 3, Training, Singh affirms that successful companies have an effective soft skills training for their global managers. From her discussion, it’s important for managers to relate and adapt to the societal culture (including the language barrier) while in foreign locations. Some relevant coaching that is recommended by Singh includes training on trust and integrity.
For a book that conveys an academic thought, I found it to be well written and characterized by evidence-based arguments delivered through an impersonal tone. I, however, felt that she could have improved on the logical flow of her discourse by refining her delivery on the constitution of soft skills. In Chapter 1, for example, while talking about the training needs of two Caribbean based companies, she cited them as training in “soft skills, leadership, and interpersonal skills”: soft skills training is distinct from the other two. Yet, later in the same chapter, soft skills training is said to include instruction in “critical thinking, problem-solving, and life skills.” Two of these in the list (critical thinking and problem solving) may be considered as a subset of leadership training.
In Chapter 6, on the other hand, soft skills are identified as “people skills supported by emotional intelligence”; in short, all these statements seem to ascribe an ambiguous meaning to what “soft skills training” entail. As a matter of fact, Chapter 9 contains a comprehensive list of soft skills which similarly show inconsistency in the make-up of this thematic term.
Besides, a blanket argument such as “If soft skills are lacking in managers, they will also be lacking in employees,” cannot be accurate, considering that she cites elsewhere in Chapter 10 that “…training alone (from the employer) will not solve the problem.” Instead, “It is the ability of the manager (read employee) to develop their learning.” So, this means some employees and managers will have a better skill set than others as a result of self-advancement.
On a positive note, I particularly found the case study of Enron, the American energy giant, enlightening. Its dizzying fall was attributed to the lack of trust and integrity on the part of its executives which resulted in ethical failures. Elaborating on one cause of this failure, Singh says that Enron’s corporate structure was deliberately kept decentralized. Therefore, this atomistic corporate culture and structure bred a weak moral infrastructure at Enron.
Contrarily, the book’s editing is wanting as I came across a few nouns in the wrong form and some typos. These errors are enough to reduce the rating by one star. Further, the failure in the logical flow in her argument is also a serious flaw in the central purpose of her writing. Therefore, I rate it 2 out of 4 stars. This book will be suitable for human resource practitioners, who would be interested in improving the skills set of their employees. Additionally, the case studies in the book will be suitable for students taking courses in strategic management and international business administration.
The Importance of Soft Skills For Global Managers
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