Where Will Your Future Global Leaders Come From?

Author: Ron Sims | Source: HCI | Published: March 11, 2013

As few as 6% of organizations have future leaders identified for critical roles, according to a recent study of global companies conducted at Right Management. And strikingly, less than one in five respondents said they have no one slated to take over any key positions. Yet, most organizations tell us that building a pipeline of global leaders that is both deep and wide is a top priority.
Having a sound understanding of the specific competencies that need to be developed to produce the most effective top-level global leaders provides the base to build a formidable talent strategy. It requires a systemic effort to assess and align talent management strategies within the context of business strategies and build a pipeline of necessary, globally-skilled talent required to succeed.
But the fact remains that multinational organizations of all types are struggling with how to address the critical challenge of attracting, developing, and retaining the necessary global talent required to meet and execute their business strategy.
Leading across cultures requires operating amid ambiguity and complexity, which often call for a different set of behaviors and competencies. As companies look to promote leaders who have been successful in domestic roles into international assignments, those same skills that made them successful may no longer apply. So, how should companies assess their talent prior to placing someone in a global role? To learn more, Right Management partnered with Tucker International to study nearly 2,000 global leaders from 13 countries.
This research identified six intercultural competencies essential for leading multinational organizations:

  1. Adapting Socially - To socialize comfortably with new people in unfamiliar social situations and to demonstrate genuine interest in other people. 
  2. Demonstrating Creativity - To enjoy new challenges, strive for innovative solutions to social and situational issues and to learn from a variety of sources.
  3. Even Disposition - To remain calm, not being critical of oneself and learn from mistakes.
  4. Respecting Beliefs - Demonstrate respect for the political and spiritual beliefs of people in other cultures.
  5. Instilling Trust - To build and maintain trusting relationships.
  6. Navigating Ambiguity - To see through vagueness and uncertainty, not become frustrated, and figure out how things are done in other cultures.

Identifying the key competencies that underpin successful outcomes and developing those thoroughly allow scarce leadership development dollars to be invested precisely. In this way organizations are able to get the greatest potential return on their global leaders.
The development of leaders is the most strategic effort companies can invest in to create competitive advantage. In what we now regard as the Human Age, employers may no longer rely on outdated work models, talent sources, people practices and leadership techniques to achieve success. As a leader, look at your people as your most valuable asset, and recognize that when properly optimized, these assets will deliver real results.
If you are curious on how you can assess your global leaders against the six competencies, ownload the full study results here. If you’re looking to select managers for overseas assignments, build international bench strength, localize country management teams and measure success of development investments. Or, register to attend the March 14 webcast on “The Global Business Leader: What It Takes to Win in a Borderless World” to take a deeper dive on the research results and implications for your talent development initiatives.
Ron Sims, Ed.D., RVP is a Talent Management Practice Leader with Right Management. He can be reached at ron.sims@right.com.