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January 30, 2018 |

How Learning a Language Can Make You a Better Leader

Learning a language isn’t just going to help you to travel or watch original movies without subtitles. When you speak two, three, or more languages, you’ll have access to better job opportunities, improve your brain’s function and become a happier person! Learning a language can even make you a better leader, as well. Let’s find out how.

You Improve Your Communication Skills

A leader must know how to communicate with the teams he or she is guiding. When you’re in charge, you need to make yourself understood. Instructions, guidelines, deadlines – you must learn to express them with no room for misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

When you learn a second language, you become better at communicating in your mother tongue as well. This is because you learn to analyze your first language from different angles, as you discover differences and similarities with the new language.

Geoffrey Willans used to say, “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.” When you learn about grammar, conjugation and syntax in the foreign language, you become more aware of these elements in your own language. This helps you communicate more efficiently, which is a key skill for a good leader.

The advantage of learning a language is more obvious when you’re dealing with a bilingual team. In this case, knowing both languages makes you even more important inside the project. You can communicate easily with all people involved, and listen to what each member has to say, understanding any concerns caused by different cultural backgrounds.

Learning a Language Increases Your Ability to Switch Tasks

As a leader, you need to be able to work on more than one project at a time. You must have an answer for every question and a solution for each problem that can delay your projects. Everything must be done ASAP.

In many cases, you must switch from one topic to another in short time, with little breathing space for organizing your ideas. When you’re a bilingual, task switching comes naturally, so you’ll flip from one activity to another with little or no effort.

Besides their ability to multitask, bilinguals are also good with prioritizing, organizing and paying attention. So, learning a second language can help you develop your working memory, as well. This means that you’ll remain focused on your tasks for longer periods. You’ll also adapt faster to change because you’ve learned to respect clear rules and instructions.

When you’re able to manage your activities, your team has a clear lead to follow. You deliver projects on time and your staff is satisfied with their progress.

Learning a Language Helps You Make Better Decisions

Everybody looks to the leader when it’s time to make a decision. From choosing the right colors for the company’s website to whether to buy AI tools to improve production, as a leader you’ll have to something to say about it.

The good news here is that learning a language can help you make rational decisions. When thinking in a foreign language, you rely more on analytic processes, leaving emotions behind. This can help you analyze from an objective angle and make better decisions. It may take you more time to go through such a complex process, but in the end your decisions will be wise ones.

Learning a language opens new perspectives. It gives you access to a wide range of information, as it reveals you a new culture. You become more perceptive, as well. This is because you learn to separate relevant information from fluff and remain focused on the tasks that really matter.

Thanks to these skills, you’ll find new ways to analyze problems, and have a higher chance of finding innovative solutions for any challenges. This is an essential quality of a good leader.

You Build Strong International Connections

Multilinguals can talk with natives in their local languages, exchanging information with little or no effort. This opens up the possibility of communicating with people who aren’t confident in English.

Business in China, for example, relies heavily on personal relationships. So, if you speak Mandarin and understand the Chinese culture, you’ll have a greater chances of building a strong partnership with a Chinese company. This is true for any other culture, as well.

When you speak two, three or more languages, you can communicate with people without an interpreter, creating room for stronger connections. In time, this can be an important advantage when looking to build a career in leadership.

Many of today’s great leaders are bilinguals or multilinguals. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, speaks English and Chinese. Marissa Mayer, former president of Yahoo!, speaks English and German. Paul Bulcke, CEO at Nestlè, speaks six languages: English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese. These are just few examples of successful people who are proficient in more than one language.

And there’s more! When speaking with natives, you learn to trust your communication abilities. This can help you increase your self-esteem and self-confidence, both essential qualities of a true leader.

Learning a Language Makes You Intelligent and Creative

According to scientists at Penn State University, learning a language makes your brain stronger, as your networks become more flexible. You get to make connections faster, which means you open yourself up to a wealth of  knowledge.

As you learn to understand new words and to recognize hidden meanings, your gray matter becomes denser, improving brain function. You’ll have a better memory and greater control over both your muscles and your emotions!

In time, you’ll become more creative, as you learn to develop new abilities. Learning a language makes you pay more attention to things around you. You’re learning to observe things and see them from different perspectives.

Every new language you learn opens up your world, allowing you to recognize and understand new meanings and concepts. In the long run, you’ll become a better person, who can handle all personal and professional responsibilities.

You’ll learn to be able to balance work with life, reducing anxiety and stress. You’ll be more productive and even influence your entire team positively!

Intelligence, creativity, and the ability to multitask are all essential in leadership. And you can improve all these skills just by learning a language.