Global business leaders are not born to lead effectively. They must actively and consciously develop a global mindset and the ability to lead across cultures, geographies and functions. Unfortunately, all data indicates global corporations today have a short supply of experienced global leaders who are able to successfully work across boundaries and borders. How can we effectively contribute to minimizing global leadership failures and maximizing the likelihood of global leadership success?  As economic and business globalization continues to accelerate exponentially, those individuals who successfully acquire the knowledge and skill to lead organizations into a more complex and competitive marketplace will become more and more critical to organizational success – organizations must support these linchpin leaders in order to facilitate strong, sustainable results.

As a reminder, a recent conservative study on global leadership failure rates indicate that 63% of leaders filling global leadership roles fail, while other studies on global leadership failure rates range from 41 -55% . We MUST take action to facilitate global leadership success.  After 20+ years of working in global business, and several more coaching global executives,  I can only communicate what I know to be effective in facilitating leadership success in global environments. It is complex and it is difficult –  there is no simple answer. However, by following some general guidelines as to what to look for and what to focus on, it is possible to provide global leaders with the tools, skills, and knowledge to be successful across boundaries and borders.

Last week I posted commentary on what I consider the “Intellectual Acumen” necessary for global leadership.  This week we will look at the second component: Psychological Acumen and it’s corresponding subsets:

2.  Psychological Acumen: Openness to new ideas/experiences.

These qualities are rare in most circles.  Just as importantly, it is rarely a simple matter to assess the right competencies for a global leader, and in almost every case it  is very situational.  From my experience, psychological acumen are critical competencies for global executives that can’t simply be applied through “traditional training” methods. These, similar to intellectual acumen, are longer term, personal integration issues, which if not incorporated through sustained, continual, coaching and reinforcement, will also ensure the failure rate of global executives will continue to soar – a key contributor to global organizations inability to achieve their potential.

What are you doing to contribute to the success of global business?

Next week I will cover the third of the core components that I believe are essential to global leadership success, Social Acumen,  followed by a discussion specifically on those competencies that are critial to global leadership success, but are not necessarily taught in business school.

Please feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders. FZP76BC9FG4Q

5 Responses

  1. Hi Sheri,

    I discovered your blog through LinkedIn and mutual connections. I was very pleased to find someone who writes on leadership across boundaries, and in particular how the subject of openess to diversity is so important for effective leadership development. Given our globalized world and the rapid entrance of new competitors who are extremely hungry to succeed and build their economies, it’s vital that corporations in America (and in my case, Canada) pay more attention to the issues you raise.

    I look forward to your next post.

    1. Thanks Jim – I am glad we were able to connect! I know how difficult leadership is on a global basis and try to offer insights and knowledge that I hope will help others. Please let me know if there is a specific topic you would like to see, as I am always happy to help wherever possible.

      1. Hi Sheri,

        I just read an interesting piece in this week’s The Economist, which looked at the new dean of the Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria. His aim apparently is to make the school more globally connected, For example, he wants to revampt HBS’s teaching methods, which have included case studies since 1920. This could mean following the European approach where students get their hands dirty and deal with live issues.

        You may wish to explore this topic yourself, given its strong link to your work. Nohria’s arrival at HBS comes at a critical time if the school wishes to maintain its high standing internationally….Jim

      2. Hi Jim.
        Although we all realize that business schools have been teaching globalization for quite some time now, the reality is that they are not preparing students for what it really takes to be successful in global business today. I hope that Nitin Nohria will take a stand and make a difference for global business – I will definitely follow with interest. You are absolutely right, dealing with case studies in business school has limited applicability – while experiential learning teaches the real world applicability that we so desperately need. I am very fortunate to have done my graduate work at the University of Cambridge, where almost everything we did was about getting our hands dirty and experiencing global business first hand – a very rewarding experience that prepared me well for what I needed to do once I was out there making things happen in global business.

        I find your comments so interesting because one of the causes I have (by default) taken up is closing the gap between what is researched, taught, and studied at University and what is actually needed in global business today. Both academia and global business have value to add, but unfortunately they insist on doing it seperately vs. bringing value through the sum of the whole being greater than the individual pieces. Recently I was working in South Africa, and again, experienced this first hand…I can’t wait to see how HBS will create global connectedness! Sheri

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