Top 6 Management Skills for International Business Career in 2021 [Updated]
  1. You are a top Business Manager but, in international dealings do you struggle to keep pace? 
  2. Are you eagerly waiting to boost your management career, with that special international posting, which needs special skills?
  3. Do you struggle to make strides into an international market because you don’t have relevant skills?

If you can relate to any of the above questions, you are not alone. Many budding and initiated managers intend to get to the top and stay there with no clue of International Business Management skills. However, with international markets opening up, businesses want to cut the cost of resources, trained labor and transportation with the sole intention of maximizing profits. Along with numerous opportunities, globalization has brought along a new set of challenges .This demands a specialized set of International Business Management skills.

Here we list top 6 skills for international business career in 2020:

Rank #1 Cultural Sensitivity and Communication

With most businesses adopting and encouraging a diverse workplace, it is critical to be sensitive to other cultures and to leave personal biases by respecting other’s values. A diverse talent pool is always a treasure. However, to manage such a talent pool, you will need to be extra cautious and flexible while communicating.


What may be acceptable by your society may be a strict no-no for another. It is eminent that you put efforts to understand their practices, values, greeting gestures and sensitivities. Besides your efforts, identify culture champions around you and learn from them, how they strike the balance during communications.


Your listening skills can be a differentiator here. Active listening and correctly interpreting the context of the communication will always keep you ahead. Having command over some foreign languages tremendously adds to your International Business Career prospects.


Being culturally literate and sensitive where you operate, you can prevent a business blunder or capitalize on the local sentiments. For, e.g. most business products/services are re-branded differently than the originating country to be easily promoted in the target market.


Rank #2 Network Building

Progressing in your International Business Career demands you to be excellent in networking skills. Managing a strong pool of connections internationally not only helps you learn new business trends but also opens up business possibilities that you had never imagined before. Most business schools therefore arrange for international trips, student exchange programs, international seminars to familiarize you with possibilities of such networking. 

Multitude of online professional development and networking tools like LinkedIn, AngelList etc. can help you connect to international professionals manning various business positions; this being said, the age-old one to one interpersonal connection still holds more importance. 

Majority of the millennial business executives are degree holders from business schools. Going for such degrees help them not only to learn the latest business concepts but also aids them to cultivate a steady and established business contacts which last them for quite a while on their business journey.

Rank #3 Commercial and Situational Awareness

container terminal?Wharf, transport

This skill is one of the most important skills in International Business Career. You should understand the marketplace, local demand and supply chain, where your business fits in and how you can make a profit from that chain. You should have a keen eye to identify competitors, their strengths and their weaknesses. This will aid in your business plans and can be the differentiator between business wins and failures.

Also, besides that you should have an awareness of political and economic factors at play in the region you are dealing with. Knowing the weather, local laws, demographics and citizen’s aspirations can help you plan better and excel in your International Business Career. This skill helps you to have a stable existing business and in creating new business opportunities besides preparing contingency plans for possible adverse situations.

It is beneficial to stay aware of the business scenario, competitor’s processes, techniques adopted by them that give them an edge over you or the overall business prospects in the region. However, to ensure that you have your basics correct, you can get certified in Six Sigma which helps to optimize your business processes to the maximum to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Rank #4 Organisation and Delegation

To succeed in your international business career, have strong organisational and delegation skills. You should ramp up an organisation of business structure fast in a new market, share common business vision among local leadership and then move on. This helps to scale up faster and explore multiple markets early. It is very important to hold the organisation steady that you built, so you do not spend recurrent efforts. You should be capable of handling multiple roles, chart plans, schedule synchronization activities and share targets effectively.

Correct prioritization and effective time management goes a long way in keeping you capable of handling multiple responsibilities and meeting deadlines. Effective delegation enables you to save time and enhance your team’s skills making them further valuable to the business. This skill will enable you to meet delivery timelines and targets as per plans. 

While you grow your organisation, it is advisable to get certified early in business related certifications like Six Sigma which will inevitably become a need as your organisation grows. Even for smaller organisations, Six Sigma has multitude of tools and techniques to adopt for increasing efficiency and become more effective in doing business.

Six Sigma is particularly important in international business where huge scale operations are normally broken into manageable chunks/units. Six Sigma will focus on quality control checks for such operations and bring down costs.

Rank #5  Adapt Adapt Adapt

Today’s ever changing market presents a plethora of challenges. What may be relevant today, may not be relevant tomorrow. It is not possible to be ready for all situations. Sometimes it makes sense to adapt. Adaptation often preserves precious resources, humbles an entity and allows a business to keep its competitive edge. 

Adaptive managers often succeed in their international business careers because adaptive thinkers flourish in frequently changing environments. Adaptive thinking can be improved by practicing curiosity, humility to learn and self control. It is a top skill in demand for global professionals as the market situation changes very frequently.

There are many examples of businesses dying out because they did not adapt to the changing market. Being an adaptable business manager will definitely provide you an edge in your International Business Career.

Even in exporting and importing goods from and to another country some supply chain management skills are required to be followed.

Rank #6  Be Resilient

Ever changing business demands, especially in International Business careers, throw an unique challenge to the manager at an individual level. Working environments, work timings, Mental health, Physical Health, personal goals, social expectations, working environments, work timings across different time zones, all take a toll on the person manning the station. Be resilient to such things that come your way. 

To succeed in your International business careers, be mentally strong and resilient towards the situations. Often you may face setbacks but you need to bounce back every time to excel; the quicker the better. 

Self motivation, practising other traits like emotional intelligence, self control, adaptability can help you stay resilient. Self awareness, emotional stability bring in the much-needed clarity in difficult times which helps to stay resolved for business success.

Now that you know the top skills in demand for an international business career, which one would you master first? Let us know in the comments.

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I am an experienced software engineering professional, who has recently discovered his flair for writing. I take interest in short story writing, blog writing, and writing online research pieces. I have realized that many times, I express better by writing than speaking. I try to keep my approach simplistic enough for all my readers to enjoy my pieces instead of looking up words in dictionaries. I appreciate any constructive feedback on my online articles.

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