Organizations planning for their future economic health recognize the need to identify and equip their future leaders with a robust toolkit of skills. This toolkit often includes classic leadership skills such as problem solving, analytical skills, team building, etc. However, companies may be slower to identify the importance of global leadership skills, especially if there is a perception that there is no immediate need, such as an imminent overseas posting or a particular international remit.
The Need for Global Leaders
In an ideal business environment, organizations would benefit from an expanded view of good leadership. Even if some of their future leaders may never be offered or accept a foreign assignment, the need to be able to work across cultures, often remotely, continues to grow. Many companies explore new markets, eventually opening new offices. Others form joint ventures or other business partnerships. Goods and services are offered in new markets, even if they continue to be supported ‘back home’.
Organizations recognize that one of their biggest challenges is the lack of global leadership skills.
What Makes a Good Global Leader? In an article published by CLO Media, the definition of a good global leader includes the ability to navigate different languages and cultures. That leader must also be able to think globally. Unfortunately, it is also reported that most employees are being equipped to become leaders relatively late in their careers – the average age is 42. Yet organizations recognize that one of their biggest challenges is the lack of global leadership skills. But what do these skills look like? According to James G Clawson, a leading writer on the subject of global leadership, there are eleven key skills that a global leader must posses:
- Overseas experience
- Deep self-awareness
- Sensitivity to cultural diversity
- Lifelong curiosity
- Cautious honesty
- Global strategic thinking
- Patiently impatient
- Good negotiator
What is the Solution?
Waiting until a prospective leader is sent abroad is not the answer. Global leadership skills need to be developed early and to an audience that may include some people whose leadership skills may not be immediately evident.
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Good organizations also make training and other learning platforms as user-friendly as possible. Current thinking means that many training programs are designed to be bespoke for the learner, drawing on their individual characteristics such as background, priorities, and topics of interest. This style of program design has the advantage of providing exactly what is required and avoiding material that may be of little relevance or interest to the trainee.
Current thinking means that many training programs are designed to be bespoke for the learner, drawing on their individual characteristics such as background, priorities, and topics of interest.
Training programs may be designed to fit into a busy leader’s routine. Many programs include a digital learning platform, often customized into bite size bursts of learning that can be accessed when the leader has a little bit of time. Ideally, for this situation, digital platforms are also mobile, so they can be accessed whilst on board a flight, at home or in a hotel. Bite size modules can also be more appealing to younger future leaders who may be used to multitasking but may not always have a long attention span.
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What are the Advantages in Providing all this Training?
The business world is becoming a global market, even in organizations who are not operating internationally. The supply chain is far reaching and has an impact on more and more companies. Additionally, as a globalized economy becomes the norm, more young people expect to become future global leaders. In the same article, CLO Media show a Virtuali Survey that indicates 80% of Millennials are more likely to join an organization if they believe there is an opportunity to work abroad, and are 77% more likely to remain with such an organization.
Organizations that provide such a career path have an increased chance of retaining young talent. Providing this talent – young or not – with their global toolkit have invested not only in their future leaders but the future of the organizations as a whole as well.