Thomas Scherer is the founder and CEO of a healthy food manufacturing company. His firm had its humble beginnings from a small apartment in his mid-sized German hometown. Over the past 12 years, his company has impressively grown into a dominant German innovative establishment with more than 150 employees.
Continuously, Thomas receives multiple opportunities to expand his business into various international countries. He aspires to grow his enterprise, with a long-range goal of globalizing his operations.
Thomas is confident in his company’s operations and recognizes that his products can thrive internationally. He has the opportunity to build new manufacturing facilities abroad and expand his business footprint into many different countries.
The future looks very promising for Thomas.
He is very confident leading his company using his native German language. But, to expand his business, it is essential that he leads his company using only English.
This thought is terrifying to him. Although he has realized the need to use English for his business success, he has found himself avoiding taking any new steps toward creating international business relationships.
Thomas grew up speaking German and was forced to take English classes from the time he was a young boy and continuing through his University years. However, he really disliked learning English because it was always focused on grammar, memorizing, reading and writing. English classes rarely gave students the opportunity to speak and the classes were boring and ineffective. .
Today, Thomas is striving to improve his business English by watching movies,Netflix series, Youtube videos, and trying to read business publications from cover to cover. But, he’s discouraged by the prospect of trying to find a solution to his problem. He’s the leader of a company and he’s not interested in taking traditional English courses. He is not enthused about working with an English teacher that is not cognizant of his responsibilities of being a founder and CEO.
Thomas’ story will resonate with business executives throughout the world. Many entrepreneurs have established companies and experienced success within their home country. Now, they are faced with the opportunity to expand the company internationally. But most founders are not confident enough in their English skills to seriously consider expanding internationally.
Over the years, the English Leadership Academy (ELA) has worked exclusively with founders, CEOs and business leaders to help them communicate confidently in English. ELA has distilled lessons learned from working with these executives into the following list of tips and strategies to communicate confidently in English to lead their companies.
Understand the value proposition. Understand the value that improving your English communication confidence will mean to your life and career. This is an investment in your future success. Past clients have improved their English confidence and literally made millions of dollars more by expanding their companies into new locations and English was necessary to make this happen.
Set specific goals. After you are cognizant of the value proposition, it will be easy to be motivated and committed to achieving the goal you set. As a successful executive, you understand more than anyone how essential it is to create goals that are specific, relevant, attainable and include a deadline.
Creating a vague goal like, “I want to be able to do a presentation in English without feeling nervous” is not sufficient. Instead, create a goal such as, “In 12 months, I will conduct all of my business using English.”
Have a mindset of curiosity. Numerous studies have shown that curiosity is the key to learning. Over the years, it is clear that clients improve rapidly when they are genuinely curious about English and how it relates to their business.
Being curious about new business vocabulary, being curious about sentence structures, and being curious about how to effectively use English to communicate your business messages with the right feeling are all essential elements of becoming confident. Be curious of how you can use phrasal verbs to speak naturally, as a native speaker would speak.
Enhance business communication skills. Effectively communicating in any language is difficult for any leader of a company. Communicating in a language other than your native language is significantly more difficult.
Great communication skills are essential to all executives, but they are significantly more important for non-native English speaking executives. Even if your English is not at a high level, you can communicate effectively when you focus on using great communication skills and techniques.
Create new habits. You know how important becoming confident in your business English is. As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to create a goal that includes a timeline. To attain your goals, you will need to do something different than you’ve done in the past. It is time to create new habits. Be disciplined in your pursuit and soon you will be enjoying your new habits and realizing the benefits.
Take advantage of technology. There are so many apps available today that will aid your English improvement. The key is to weed through the masses and identify the apps that will provide the greatest assistance to your goals and what you need as an executive. ELA has found specific apps in particular have shown to provide exceptional results to clients that have created new habits and use them daily.
Record yourself speaking. Do not underestimate how powerful it is to record yourself speaking in English. No one likes to listen or watch themselves speaking in any language, especially in a different language than your native language. But, if you can make this one of your new habits, you can be assured that your speaking skills will benefit more than you imagined. Everyone knows what type of speaker they want to be.
For more ideas of how to improve your speaking, please see this article. Recording yourself and finding specific items of improvement will allow you to become the speaker you desire.
Focus on USING the language. It is not sufficient to know English. You must USE English. Most English courses focus on memorizing vocabulary and grammar. But, this is not helpful to a business executive.
You must focus on using the language within the context of a business leader. As an example, for vocabulary to be effective, the words and phrases must be applicable to the vocabulary an executive would naturally use in the course of running a business. Also, learn how to say numbers and dates naturally in English.
Take notes. It sounds simplistic, but it is apparent that when clients continuously take notes during our sessions, their improvement outperforms those that do not take notes. It is immaterial if the note taking is done with a pen and notebook or on the computer. But, taking notes and reviewing those notes has proven to be a game changer.
Immerse yourself in English. Writing emails, formatting your online calendar in English, listening to the news in English, reading only English stories on the internet. Immersing yourself in English is one of the best ways to become comfortable using English. See why listening is the key to fluency in this article.
Strive to include executive business English material in your daily routine as it is extremely relevant to you becoming comfortable using English in your day-to-day activities. Aim to read a great business book in English and if you want the most bang for your buck, read the book out loud.
Commit to a learning schedule. Every executive is busy and rarely does anyone have extra time. However, when a business professional is cognizant of the true value proposition, they will make the required sacrifices and commit to their new habits and dedicate the necessary time to improve their skills. You must invest time. You might need to wake up early or dedicate time on weekends. Create a schedule and stick to it.
Find an Executive Business English Coach. You are a leader of your company. Most people do not understand the business pressure and situation you live with on a daily basis. You need someone that can relate to you and your position. You do not need an English teacher, you need an executive business English coach. You need constructive feedback from your coach and a dedicated working relationship.
This article provides a detailed framework of how to find the best business English coach for you, as a founder, CEO or executive.
Have Fun. Last but not least, have fun with this. We are not curing cancer here, but instead we are helping you communicate confidently in another language.
Personally, I believe that having fun is an essential part of being successful here. Coaching sessions are traditionally full of laughs and smiles. We work hard and we play hard. Studies have shown time and again that if you enjoy what you are doing, it will be much more successful.
It is imperative to realize that this is not an easy task. This is work! It will take hard work and sacrifice on your part. Realizing that high level executives are rarely patient, this process does take a certain level of patience.
The good news is that you can do this. Once you believe that you can do it, anything is possible. Do the work, get the results. I can assure you that your life will change once you are confidently communicating in English.