Developing Effective Global Leaders in a New Age of Learning Tools
Today’s business landscape is more global than ever before, and organizations must develop internationally-oriented leaders in order to be competitive in the market. BPI group’s Michael McGowan, Managing Director, Leadership & Talent, and John Blyth, Executive Coach, shared their insights on how to identify and develop global leaders to drive organizational success.
What factors do learning leaders need to consider as they create a global leadership development framework and model that promotes the agreed upon values of effective global leadership?
John Blyth: It’s essential that learning leaders work with their business counterparts. It’s one thing to create success profiles in a vacuum, or competencies based on best practices from other companies. However, your culture is unique, and your most effective leaders know what is really needed to be successful. In addition to looking at its own level of leaders, success profiles should be tailored to particular roles in your organization. When you develop profiles for positions, identify the key skills, strengths, experiences, motivators, and traits that a person occupying role needs to be successful.
Are there some best practices you’d recommend when it comes to selecting who receives this type of development? Does a company hurt itself by being selective about who receives global leadership development, especially in this day?
John Blyth: First of all, it’s important to note that not everyone will be a global leader, nor wants to be. And that’s okay. Many talented individuals are destined for other critical and pivotal roles within the organization. To select future global leaders, organizations should first develop the success profiles at each level that outline the key skills, experiences, motivators, and traits that a global leader within that organization should meet, as well as derailers to avoid.
There are some key characteristics of strong global leaders, and they include: global strategic thinking, overseas experience, sensitive to cultural diversity, lifelong curiosity, and self-awareness. Again, organizations learn from their own successful global leaders when creating these success profiles and selection criteria. They must draw on their unique culture, challenges, and circumstances.
Why do companies often focus this type of development investment on more tenured employees?
Michael McGowan: We recommend identifying and developing high potential global leaders across all levels within an organization – not just at the senior level. It’s easy to invest in and focus only on those leaders in senior pivotal leadership roles right now, since that is where an immediate impact will be seen. However, the more global experiences a company offers to more junior leaders, the sooner they will be ready to take on those pivotal, global leadership roles in the organization. Once you’ve developed the success profiles for global leaders, you can identify high-potentials across different levels who can be future global leaders in the short and long-term.
While studies, for instance I4CP’s Global Leadership Development study, show organizations as understanding the importance of global leadership for their business, a significant portion don’t see their global leadership development efforts as effective. What’s the possible cause of that?
Michael McGowan: According to the 70-20-10 adult learning model, 70% of learning takes place through experience, 20% through coaching or mentoring, and the remaining 10% through formal training. However, many companies still invest most of their time and budget in that 10% - classroom environments that “train” individuals on specific skills. Unfortunately, current and future global leaders are missing out on the 90% that really matters. Companies can reverse this trend by emphasizing international rotational assignments, as well as experiential leadership development programs that give participants the opportunity to work on real-life or simulated global business problems with global teams and stakeholders.
Lastly, these programs need to stretch their curriculum and the participants beyond their own regional boundaries of thinking and emphasize the skills, traits, and experiences that are needed to make an effective global leader in that organization. Matching leaders with global mentors or coaches who possess these attributes will serve to help them navigate global leadership issues and strengthen their skills.