Dr. Paula Caligiuri is a celebrated professor of international business at Northeastern University, and recently an acclaimed author of the new business and advice non-fiction book Build Your Agility: The Nine Competencies of Successful Global Professionals. With the latter accomplishment, Caligiuri proves she not only is an ingenious, progressive thinker across a wide set of margins, but also a capable storyteller of said philosophies and observations as well. The book never comes across as demeaning, high-handed, or reverse-classist to its primary targeted demographic, nor sparing of important and statistics-proven truths Caligiuri paints with an adept and evocative brush. She conjures simple but effective analogy to highlight otherwise broad, semi-subjective concepts about workplace communication, behavioral psychology, and performative technique.
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With Build Your Agility, Caligiuri’s intent is clear. More than ever during the unprecedented measures taken with the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘practical conscientiousness’ is proving not only crucial, but downright mandatory for smooth, fluid, and mutually respectful communication between parties who may share opposite ends of the globe. With the so-called ‘nine competencies’ she highlights in the book, Caligiuri covers everything from comprehending cross-cultural difference to maintaining a sense of culturally universalistic empathy. She joins a distinguished group of thinkers arguing that corporate efficiency and empathetic character aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, Caligiuri argues, the two share a symbiotic relationship in ensuring consistent success, whether it be in relations or actual hands-on production.
Empathy is a concept commonly eschewed when it comes to association with other terms in the American vernacular – be it ‘industry’, ‘corporate’, or otherwise. There is a growing movement in light of allegations and calls for workplace accountability in 2017 for a restructuring of the typical company model, and with that restructuring an introspective reflectiveness that arguably is as humane as it is long-term efficient.
The idea of ‘fear’ and ‘respect’ is starting to find itself replaced with corporate psychology ensuring concepts like ‘equality’ and ‘universal investment’. The argument that the worker feels as invested in the outcome as the CEO is a relatively new approach to how to run a business, but the statistics are speaking for themselves. More and more entrepreneurs and CEOs are adopting this approach because of said statistics, revolutionizing workplace practices while also, in the name of traditionalist evolution and expansion, breaking glass ceilings and continuing to push cutting-edge corporate agendas forward.
Why? Well, in the eyes of people like Dr. Caligiuri, because standards such as those she proposes are starting to become accepted as ‘part of the job’ essentials. Ultimately the book’s winning card is empathy – promoting it, sharing it, encouraging it – and in the process bridging the gap between the stereotypical cold nature of enterprise, and the warmer fields of encouragement, mutual investment, and yes, once again – that word empathy.