This is the right time to start afresh. We’re already in mid-January and you’re still pump up with the hype of a new year. I hope you’re keeping up with all the resolutions you’ve written down in your yearly list of things to accomplish, and maybe learning a new language is one of them.
I will show you here, why it should be your top priority especially if you are a Company Manager or an Executive Officer.
What are the qualities of a great manager and how do they relate with language learning?
A great manager must be autonomous
He/she must be able to take decisions on her own, being able to take a firm position on issues. He/she should be a leader and it means to stand alone against everybody else’s opinions at times. This is not everyone cup of tea.
When you’re studying a language, especially if it’s on your own, you must decide what language you want to study, which book or course you will be following, what to study and when. You’re in charge of your study time depending of how fast you want to progress.
Learning a new language will enhance your confidence as you master the new skill. Your self-confidence will grow, and it will show in every area of your life.
A great manager must possess a set of intellectual resources.
He/she always want to learn and improve and be better each day. The more intellectual resources they possess, the easier the learning will be. He/she must have a logical style of thinking, the ability to use systematic and deductive thoughts to analyse the diverse problems they will have to confront. He/she must have the ability to formulate hypothesis. He/she should be able to manipulate abstract concepts.
When you learn a language – even after three months- your brain grows and the practice of this second language strengthens the connections between specific areas of your brain.The more successful you are at learning a new language, the more connected brain networks you will have, this make the learning process easier. It happens regardless of your age.
The Human brain keeps its plasticity at any age.
Researchers have found that the human brain keeps its plasticity at any age.
So, information is processed through a greater variety of channels allowing the learner to become more intelligent.
Also, being bi-lingual will allow you to recall memory better than monolinguals. Your brain becomes stronger in the areas responsible for storing and retrieving information when you must often remember specific words in different languages.
Learning a new language is one of the most challenging skills, and if you manage to succeed at acquiring a native-like ability, this means that you have put in place a set of action plans like developing a strategy, prioritising, defining your problems and finding an adequate solution, experimenting.
All these are qualities required in a management post.
Once you learn how to master a language, tackling other skills become easy.
Bilinguals have an increased attention span.
A study by Ellen Bialystok, Fergus I.M. Craik (2010) shows that bilinguals have an enhanced attention span and are more capable of limiting distractions when asked to concentrate on a task. They were better at analysing the given information and working only on what is relevant.
Also, bilinguals think faster than monolinguals and can execute instructions in less time.
Employees who know a foreign language are valued in the workplace. It speaks about their character. It is a skill which require determination, persistence and willpower, especially when things get complicated.
It is also proven that managers with the knowledge of a foreign language earn as much as 12% more than their monolingual counterparts.
A great manager must take the right decisions
Decision making is a vital requirement for leadership. The Company’s success depends on it.
Language learners are better at taking decisions. They become more observant of words they read and hear and become more analytic when facing difficult situations.
Language learning benefits abstract thinking because foreign language speakers are constantly confronted with new ways of thinking.
Reasoning and analytical thinking are enhanced as their brain processes the new language.
A great manager must be courageous
He/she must face problems, make difficult decisions and be responsible for the corresponding actions to take place. He/she must have a realistic vision of the problem, share it with the team. He/she should be able to manage the difficulties even in uncertain times. He/she takes decisions quickly even when the information they are given is not complete.
Research has shown that bilinguals have improved executive functions. What are these?
According to Wikipedia executive functions (also known as cognitive control and supervisory attentional system) is an umbrella term for the management (regulation control) of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving as well as planning and execution.
Language learners know how to prioritise. They take daily decisions about their learning: what they should learn, how they should learn it, when, the type of learning activity they should do etc…
They can solve the problems they face in their language journey. This helps them to become more efficient learners and be aware of what is important or not.
These skills are easily transferable.
Bilinguals also have improved communication skills. They have faced struggles in expressing their thoughts in the early stages of language learning. So, they have learned to adapt their thoughts and use different words in order to favour communication. In short, they become more effective communicators.
Language learners can scrutinise and find the root of a problem due to their ability to tackle complex issues. This allows them to be excellent problem solvers.
In an experiment by Mark Leikin (2012) where he studied “the effect of bilingualism on creativity” he discovered that bilingual children were more creative in their problem solving than their monolingual peers.
He explains that this could be because bilinguals have an increased metalinguistic awareness which creates a form of thinking that is more open and objective.
A great manager should lead and inspire others.
He/she should be able to guide the team towards a common goal. They should trust him/her and vice versa. He should be in charge, encourage, motivate and engage his employees.
Language learners have improved general communication skills. They can communicate with different people in a more meaningful way. They have acquired new perspective and skills that allow them to express themselves better and understand others. They think differently about their own language and use it at a deeper level of understanding and a wider vocabulary range.
Learning a language can teach you teamwork especially if you are enrolled in a language course. Various activities entail working in groups and making formal presentations in front of an audience. These skills are useful in the work environment.
I have just scratched the surface. I could talk about many more managerial qualities that learning a second language can boost, but this article would be too long.
I hope this will encourage you to start the great adventure of adding this new skill to your CV this year.
If you need help to plan your language journey CLICK HERE