The business case to develop leaders with global skills and competencies is very clear, according to Kevin Martin, i4cp’s Chief Research Officer. “We’re seeing a trend emerge from our research that indicates that organizations must look at leaders through a different lens. Business skills and acumen remain critical, but are now table stakes. It’s the ability to influence and drive collaboration across cultures, boundaries, and borders that has the greater variability on global leadership effectiveness and can make the biggest difference.”
Despite this, according to Martin, the goal of developing a global mindset is proving elusive for many organizations. “The study found that only half of large organizations prioritize developing leaders’ global skills and competencies, and only one-third consider their efforts successful.”
Among the key findings:
- Global development that begins with first-level leaders or individual contributors is more effective than delaying such efforts until candidates reach higher leadership levels.
- Active, experiential learning is preferable to on-the-job training in building global leaders.
- A global mindset distinguishes effective global leaders. Embracing cross-cultural diversity and cultivating collaborative relationships within and outside the organization are hallmarks of this perspective.
- Core social skills are essential for global leaders, including encouraging open expression of ideas, demonstrating awareness of global differences and maintaining positive relationships under difficult circumstances.
The study identifies several elements that promise to improve program effectiveness in a meaningful way. One key recommendation is that companies must ratchet up efforts to develop leaders early in their careers to have global skills and competencies, preferably within a distinct program and at least by including such focused curriculum within a general leadership development program.
i4cp members: download the report, which details the practices of high-performance organizations and features case studies on Ford, Novartis, Lear Corporation, and Schlumberger.