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Global Leadership Development: How Top Firms Take Global Local and Local Global

If you had a dollar for every time in the past five years you've read about the profound effects of globalization on business, which beach would you be sunning on right now? Personally, I'm thinking Tortola in the British Virgin Islands... but I digress.

When i4cp and the American Management Association took their fifth collaborative-research look at global leadership development (GLD) this year, the data revealed that we all might as well be languishing on that beach because fewer than half of the organizations surveyed reported taking decisive action to equip their leaders with the capabilities that success in a global marketplace demands.

GLD programs don't measure up

It isn't that business leaders don't know that the development of global skills is lacking--they're keenly aware. Further, they acknowledge that organizations are doing a consistently worse job year over year. In 2010, 42% of business execs rated their GLD programs "highly effective." By 2014, that figure plummeted to a dismal 19%.

As you'd expect, the high-performance organizations on which i4cp research focuses are doing a better job at GLD. Their efforts tend to emphasize a handful of practices that seem to enable them to achieve better results in preparing leaders who understand, and can successfully meet, the unique challenges inherent in doing business in the global marketplace.

One of those high-performance practices, discussed in detail in i4cp's Global Leadership Development: Preparing Leaders for a Globalized Market, hinges on striking the delicate balance between building local-culture perspectives while maintaining a consistent global development approach. Providing a great how-to illustration of that capability is global IT application provider and i4cp member company Oracle Corporation.

Based in California, Oracle's more than 120,000 employees serve customers in 145 countries. Yet, the company ensures that its leaders worldwide receive consistent development along with regionally relevant content provided through involvement by local talent, according to senior leadership consultant Sandy Elvington.

After a careful research and proposal process, Oracle chose an outside vendor to support global delivery of leadership training by certified facilitators. Content was designed to provide core development across leadership positions and to build an effective knowledge baseline.

"Oracle had a global team working on the program content, with members from EMEA, India, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the U.S." Elvington said, adding, "whatever we developed must play not only in the U.S., but also in other countries."

Oracle's global development team sought feedback from employees in multiple locations, and though most training content was developed in English, local-language delivery helped include area-specific focus. So did augmenting overall content with locally developed learning.

"You can't create a program to roll out globally with U.S.-centric people," said Elvington. "We engage all teams across the globe to make for a greater success rate."

Get real-world insights from high-performers--such as Oracle and Cargill--companies that consistently set the bar in effectiveness with their global leadership development efforts. i4cp members can explore practices of leading organizations by downloading i4cp's Global Leadership Development: Preparing Leaders for a Globalized Market.

For not-yet-members, choose the free download of i4cp thought leader Marshall Goldsmith on GLD in i4cp's From Now to Next Thinksheet for Executives series.
Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.