There’s an interesting article in this September’s Harvard Business Review about how working abroad can make you a better, more creative manager. I often struggle when broad generalizations are made about people’s backgrounds that conclude they are a certain kind of manager or leader. But in this case, as someone who did not grow up in America and has worked in many countries, I could see some substance in the argument put forward.

The HBR article discusses how people with expanded cultural experience tend to be more creative and better problem solvers. They are able to more easily get outside the box to overcome challenges. In my own experience, the people who decide they are going to work outside of their own country are already predisposed to living in a world outside their comfort zone. In my case, even though I moved to a country that spoke the same language, the simple art of doing grocery shopping was a massive undertaking because most things have different names. Even the name of the business was different; who knew a “supermarket” is referred to as a “grocery store.” You may laugh, but that was only just the beginning. Quite simply, the experience makes you: work harder; never make assumptions; question everything; challenge norms; and generally open your mind to new ideas and new ways of doing things, while liberally sprinkling in nuances from your own past experience. And if that’s just everyday life, the argument begins to become very powerful when you apply the same principles to business. So while this can be daunting and somewhat arduous at first, once you become adept at it – it becomes a part of you.

It’s probably no surprise then that at Text 100, I’ve made it a point of emphasis that people are encouraged to work in other offices across the world. Our programs range from long term assignments, to short term sabbaticals, as well as simple office swaps. The skill and knowledge that they takeaway can’t be taught from a book or a classroom. The benefit isn’t just limited to the individual themselves – I find that the entire team around them wins.