I was recently speaking at a conference and I was asked about a term that is near and dear to who I am – Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders. You will see (or hear) it in almost everything I do – you will hear me refer to it when I speak publicly… in general conversations… and when I write. Although I refer to “Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders” frequently, this was the first time I can remember that an audience member stood up and asked about LABB in a public forum. I found this so interesting – it is so much a core part of my being… yet I realized I had never stopped to actually define it for others outside of myself and those closest to me. I have been unfair. I will try to remedy my faux pas through not only explaining my terminology as a core component of myself, but also by defining each piece of it from my view of the world over the next few weeks.
So, I will begin by talking a little about history and about the definition, my definition, of Global…
Those of you who have followed me from the early days know I have had a very unique and fortuitous background. My “global career” actually started at a fairly tender age. My father, a Fire Chief, began moving our family around the world – exposing us to language, food and all manner of culture when I was just twelve years old (and I was none too appreciative at the time!). We did not typically live with other Americans – we lived with the locals… as the locals (again, not perceived as a plus as a teenager). In Spain, we played with the local children in the abandoned plaza de toros and ate in the local ventas, while in the Philippines we hiked deep into the jungle with the aborigines, exchanged candy for hand-made weapons and attended indigenous festivals in the local villages… just a few examples. I unknowingly learned what it meant to be a global citizen and what it was to See The Forest Through The Trees… forming my earliest impressions of local innovation, and how, when taken in context, it can be leveraged for global knowledge. I understood and integrated with the local flavor, while realizing the value of global scalability. Funny how things you learn come back into focus again and again throughout your life if you pay attention…
I went on to earned my BSc in Organizational Psychology from University of Maryland and proceeded to earn my MBA from Cambridge University in International Management. I have been fortunate to spend my career with the some of the top corporations in the world, running Global Service Operations for many years… and proceeded to own an international consulting firm, providing Executive Coaching and Consulting Services to global organizations. The point – I have had a long time to study, observe and decide what “global” means to me…
My experience has served me well. Today, the greatest business opportunities and challenges we face are global in nature… demanding that we understand what it means to be global. But what does “global” really mean? Over-used and under-defined? Perhaps… Certainly, the old mantra “think global, act local” is woefully inadequate to describe the complex realities that we face in the real world. From my experience as a young girl in a very big world… to an international student… a young global manager… to an experienced global executive… and now a Professor and global Executive Coach, this is what I can offer you:
Global is far more than just worldwide.
It is far more than thinking big and acting small.
Global is all-Inclusive and comprehensive – it is a worldwide network of interconnected relationships
It encompasses multiple perspectives and understands there is more than one… two… or three best ways
Global means finding new ways that are all-inclusive and interconnected across boundaries and borders
It rises above silos and borders to find the best way for the organization and the customer
If you are privileged enough to be “global”, you are not simply responsible for multiple regions – you are responsible for the people, resources and results across those regions!
As a global leader, you are responsible for building bridges across boundaries and borders to:
- Continuously Connect Resources
- Doggedly Develop Talent
- Relentlessly Create Value
- Uncompromisingly Deliver Results
You Can’t Just Think And Act Global, You Must Be Global.
In a crisis-ridden world, it is easy to become myopic, focus on the local and lose sight of the fact that reality dictates that business is truly global. Maintaining a global mindset is work. However, it allows you, as a leader, to create value through global connections – those connections enable you to make positive contributions to the communities you have the capacity to impact.
Connecting, developing, creating, and contributing/delivering results are the four cornerstones that will make or break you in a global environment.
Every organization is global to some extent, and it’s only a matter of your understanding how you impact situations, opportunities, and challenges that will determine your success… or failure. Even if you only service a national customer base, or your staff consists of a handful of local people, it is highly likely they are from different parts of the world – with different worldviews, customs, languages and beliefs. Global awareness empowers you to proactively adapt, innovate and focus on strategic measures that drive results in any environment. “Global” isn’t an adjective reserved for executives in international companies; it is an essential descriptor as to how every leader – formal or informal – must perform to keep pace in today’s world.
How Will You Define And Act Upon Your Definition Of “Global”?
The choice is yours…
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you define and engage “global”. Do you need an expert to help you in your global organization? Contact me at SheriLMackey@gmail.com. Check back soon for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.