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We go to business school to learn all the right skills, but what are the right skills? Of course we all need to know the fundamentals of basic business management, but what about  those critical, but less obvious, competencies that global executives must know in order to succeed? What are those essential skills not taught in business school that often cause high potential leaders to derail and never achieve their potential? Here are a few important aspects of global leadership that are not taught in business school:

1) How To Create A Global Vision:

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizon are limited by obvious realities. We need men and women who can dream of things that never were.”   ~ John F. Kennedy

The problem with this statement is that many global leaders do not know how to create a vision, do not realize how very vital it is to the success of their organization, nor what to do with the vision once they have finally figured it out. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Work backward from your imagination, rather than forward from your past –  the old adage, “What got you here, will not get you there” is an absolute truth.
  • Remember that whatever you can imagine, you can accomplish
  • Ask yourself some revealing questions as you develop your vision:
    • What is an enormous strategic opportunity within your domain/organization/industry?
    • What would change your business and your clients business forever?
    • What is missing that would truly revolutionize the products/services/processes/etc.? (Think Apple, Netflix, Facebook…)
    • What will take your company/domain from status quo to breakthrough?
    • What are you so passionate about that you would be willing to transform not only your company, but yourself?
  • Think through and understand what it is going to require of you and the organization to realize the vision: Realistically ensure the benefits outweigh the costs
  • Document and Publish an explicit, living, breathing, step by step plan that senior leaders, peers and staff can buy into and share ownership.

2) How to Execute With A Results Orientation

They don’t teach the dogged determination that creates the ability to execute in business school, but this quality is more important in making people successful and in executing in global business than any other. However, if that is all it takes to execute, why do so many executives lack this ability? Because there is no system, formula, strategy, or tactical plan behind the vision – there is a weak results orientation and a lack of process knowledge to support forward movement (aside from a few additional factors we will cover next week). Naturally, it is important to begin with the end in mind, but many executives are so focused on the end, they end up chasing their tails and accomplishing little. Here are some straight forward ways for executives to facilitate their ability to execute:

  • Focus on the process, not the prize – concentrate on what will produce the results, rather than the results themselves.
  • Get and stay connected – identify key strategic partners that can help you get where you want to go and consistently engage.
  • Have both a tactical and a strategic plan.
  • Execute one step at a time – By the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it will be hard.
  • Consistently engage ALL key players across boundaries & borders – without the buy-in and commitment of critical resources you will never succeed.
  • Listen, don’t just hear – listen to what your subject matter experts are telling you and remain flexible in your gameplan.
  • Incorporate strict accountability measures – if no one is openly accountable, little will get done.

3) How To Network For Success

There is great power in knowing you can reach out to your network whenever you have a problem to solve, to be able to reach key influencers at conferences and meetings, to make an impression on audiences, to project confidence and trustworthiness, and to make friends with other successful people. The ability to connect on many levels is essential to success in global business – in fact many top executives say networking is one of the top reasons for their success. Surrounding yourself with successful and intelligent people will  allow you to consistently think smarter, as well as having access to brilliant people that will support your objectives and provide valuable insights. Networking presents opportunities to interact on a personal level and to develop profitable relationships. Most people have a reluctance to connect with strangers, however in business talking to strangers is essential and the only effective way to generate interest and support for what you do. It is so easy to stay within your controlled environment, however if you only talk to people you already know, you will miss significant opportunities to make new connections, establish valuable connections, and position yourself for success.

The greatest people in business have certain attributes in common. Some are natural gifts, others are learned attributes.  Beyond personal qualities –

Can we prevent the derailment of high potential global leaders through the acquisition of critical skills not 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 Part 2 of “Business School or School of Hard Knocks?”

The hallowed halls of The University of Cambridge, one of my Alma Maters and one of the oldest universities in the world, is believed to have been formed in 1209 by scholars who had left Oxford after a dispute with local townspeople, developed into one of the most respected universities in the world. Through the decades it has produced more than 80 Nobel prize winners and nurtured some of history’s greatest thinkers:  John Milton, Isaac Newton, Hans Blix, Ludvig Wittgenstein, CS Lewis, Francis Crick and James Watson (the structure of DNA), Sylvia Plath, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking – to mention just a few. As I attended Cambridge’s 800th anniversary last year, I was again honored by the intellect that surrounds me.  But, at the same time, I recognize very clearly that there is a remarkable gap between what we learn in business school and what we need to be successful in the ever-evolving world of global business. I am the beneficiary of some of the finest Professsors in the world, yet there are topics not necessarily taught in business school, that are indeed critical to survival in global business – some of my favorite challenges to discuss.

The Unspoken subject-matter emerges as you dive headlong into the unpredictable environment of global business and suddenly realize that there are challenges and roadblocks that you were not advised of and that you had not previously contemplated.  Topics such as politics, networking, challenging the status quo, the importance of rapid results, mentoring/coaching, execution, big picture/small picture balance , etc… These challenges and roadblocks often derail careers and cause people to question their commitment to global business. If we are to successfully evolve leadership on a global basis, it is vitally important that we understand these challenges and ensure they are addressed.

Because these topics are so deeply rooted in the day to day operations of global business, they are not well suited, in most instances, to academic institutions. In addition, we know that corporate training is often ineffective and retention rates are low. If we are to tool our executives with the skills to accelerate their organizations, we will need to better leverage non-traditional learning. We will need to look to effective, ongoing methods, often based in experience rather than theory, in order to facilitate organizational success on every level.

Gary Hamel‘s commentary on Leadership and how it has not fundamentally changed in over 100 years is accurate. We may move things around, make them look a little different, or phrase them in a different way – but there has been little actual innovation in leadership theory and practice in a very long time. It occurs to me how absolutely critical it is for academia and business to come together for the greater good – the future of global business and interculturism depend on it. If we are to evolve, we will need to look to Translational Science – essentially taking what is developed in the “lab” and deploying it effectively in real-world scenarios, and vice versa – taking what we know and understand to be real in global business and partnering with academia to make it more effective.

Please join me next week for a continuation of this discussion, detailing some potential ways to effectively deploy translational science into  both academic and business environments. You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.