Archives For Global Leader Series

 

The cry for effective leadership in global organizations is both urgent and widespread. Organizations are challenged to identify and leverage global leadership competence in order to succeed across boundaries and borders, while technical competence and organizational experience are no longer adequate selection criteria for key global positions.

Increasingly the most crucial leadership characteristics identified are relationship competence and openness to new perspectives. These are challenging to develop in leaders because they derive from interpersonal characteristics and require sustained behavioral change. Typically, organizations have selected or promoted leaders for global roles based on technical expertise and organizational commitment, which has, historically, resulted in unsatisfying results. The unintended negative consequences have often been well-publicized and costly – premature terminations, disappointing global performance, as well as reduced organizational morale, cohesion and performance.

Leading across boundaries and borders requires specific interpersonal attitudes and skills, in addition to technical expertise and organizational knowledge. It is absolutely critical that we provide leaders with the right tools and skillsets to succeed in an ever-changing, complex global environment. One key element of this preparation is making sure leaders understand and have the ability to create relationships of trust by developing keen insight and respect for differences, while also connecting across cultures in a meaningful way.

Last week I posted commentary on what I consider the “Psychological Acumen” necessary for global leadership.  This week we will look at the third component: Social Acumen and its corresponding subsets:

Social Acumen: Intercultural communication skills; the ability to align, motivate and inspire people;  networking and building trust relationships globally; the desire for continuous interpersonal growth.

  • Team Building: Can the executive build alignment despite differences in function, geography and culture? Is there the ability to communicate a consistent vision and inspire team coordinated action across diverse environments? Can s/he keep the teams focused and motivated?
  • Intercultural Orientation: Is there an ability to engage and connect with people from different backgrounds, functions, and cultures?
  • Personal Impact: Is there the ability to build alliances and business partnerships? Can the executive bring together diverse viewpoints, drive consensus, and maintain credibility across cultures? Is there the capability to successfully infuse the local management team with the corporate (global) vision and culture to effectively institutionalize the local market?
  • Diplomacy: Can the executive hear both what is said and what is not said?  Can s/he ease into conversations with diverse participants? Is there a propensity to ask rather than answer? Is there skill in building networks with diverse cultural connection points?

Global companies today may deploy international processes and operations, yet they must understand that above all people drive those processes and operations. If people across boundaries and borders are not bought into the global leader on an interpersonal level, critical goals are not likely to be achieved  – at least not with any level of effectiveness or efficiency. Companies must find innovative ways to generate competitive advantage, and again, this can only be achieved through people – thus the criticality of social acumen.

The continued expansion of the global enterprise across diverse cultures and geographies, as well as the necessary integration of diverse, and often geographically separated, teams into the perspectives, strengths and results of the global operation requires that leaders acquire the social acumen that is critical to global success. The competitive context in which we all live does not permit us to leave any talent underutilized – all global leaders must acquire and embed global leadership competence into everyday actions and behaviors. If we can partner with our leaders to develop intellectual, psychological, and social acumen, there is an immense opportunity to both positively impact peoples lives and drive strong, consistent global results!

What are you doing to develop social acumen as a critical business skill in your global organization?

Please feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

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.

  • Self-confidence: Is the executive willing to take calculated risks in context? Does the executive encompass critical mental and emotional behaviors, including self-assurance and empathy across multicultural environments? Is there an ability to thrive in complex and unpredictable environments? Does s/he have the ability to be energized, rather than drained, by operating in foreign environments?
  • Principled Mindset: Despite new ideas and experiences, is there a guiding set of core values, and the ability to remain authentic regardless of the situational and environmental challenges? Can the executive effectively communicate the corporation’s shared values and strategy without isolating diverse cultures and geographies?
  • Passion for diversity: Is there a passion for exploring the world? An appreciation for other cultures and what can be learned from them? A desire to try new, unconventional, and innovative things? Is there a high tolerance for the unpredictable? Is there a commitment to continuous learning despite environmental change?

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 Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders. FZP76BC9FG4Q

DDI’s Global 2009 Leadership Study  indicated that 37 percent of leaders filling global leadership roles fail.  These leaders failed to achieve their global objectives and, most commonly, left the company – unsuccessful. “Clearly, something is wrong worldwide with leadership development…”, reports DDI in its 2009 Global Leadership Forecast. But what is being done about this epidemic problem?  I repeatedly hear people willing to state the problem, but very few who actually propose and facilitate solutions.

After 20+ years of working in global business, and several more coaching global executives, I am repeatedly asked what is needed to facilitate success in global environments. I can tell you that it is not fancy terms or academic theories that move executives forward – but it is the ability to take reality-based theories, put them into layman’s terms, and apply them into real-world scenarios – while simultaneously  incorporating some less obvious skills that are not necessarily taught in business school.

I can provide you with the basic components I use to evaluate the likelihood of leadership success in the global marketplace, as well as the competencies I seek to further develop/position executives for global success. It is by no means a formal, definitive “global leadership” list of competencies, as the challenges are always very complex and involve a mix of both hard and soft skill development, but it is a methodology to leverage when evaluating global executives or  partnering with them to further individual or group development. The reality is that I am a practitioner, not a scientist – and I promote and teach what I know through real-world experience.

For each of the next three weeks, I will cover one of the three core components that I know from experience are essential to global leadership success (Intellectual, Psychological, and Social)  – followed by a discussion specifically on those more covert competencies that are critial to global leadership success.

This week we will look at the first component: Intellectual Acumen and it’s corresponding subsets:

  1. Intellectual Acumen: Understanding how the business works on a global scale / having the functional and market competencies to succeed.
  • Business management capability: Is there a capacity for strategic decision-making, functional expertise, efficient resource allocation, effective time management, problem-solving ability, ease in managing complexities, and ability to stay flexible? Can the executive adapt his/her leadership style to a variety of situations?
  • Global business knowledge: does the executive know how the business/industry works worldwide? How global customers behave across various geographies? How competition targets global clients? How strategic risk varies by geography? Is the executive mindful of diverse business protocols and legalities across areas of responsibility on a global basis / how it effects the overall business?
  • Cognitive complexity: does the executive have the ability to relate diverse scenarios with many moving parts without becoming overwhelmed? Is s/he aware of corporate/proprietary competencies that include navigation of internal culture, institutional business protocols, and proprietary skills that affect the global business?

It is rarely a simple matter to assess the right competencies for a global leader, and is very situational.  From my experience, intellectual acumen is the basic starting point for global leadership success. Although a significant portion of intellectual acumen is gained through education and organizational experience, if the basic competencies are not present, and incredibly strong, the leader has failed before s/he ever begins. If these elements are present, but need development or refinement, more than “traditional training” methods are required. These are longer term, organizational integration issues, which if not incorporated through sustained, continual, coaching and reinforcement, will ensure that the failure rate of global executives will continue to soar – a key contributor to global organizations inability to achieve their potential. I have seen it time and again…

How would you rate your global intellectual acumen? If it is not where you need it to be, what are you going to do about it?

You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installation  of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders. 59DCENEFB9N7