global mindset

Global skills development that begins with first-level leaders or individual contributors is more effective than delaying such efforts until candidates reach higher leadership levels, asserts the latest global leadership study from the American Management Association (AMA) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). This sixth annual global leadership study, Developing Global-Minded Leaders to Drive High-Performance, is based on input from 1,358 business leaders from more than 90 countries, and provides a comprehensive overview of global leadership development across all regions and industries. 

However, this collaborative examination of effective global leadership development found many companies’ global performance at risk: Only half of organizations make it a priority to develop leaders’ global skills and competencies, and only a third describe their development efforts as effective. According to Sam Davis, AMA’s vice president for customized consulting solutions. “For organizations seeking to encourage a global mindset among emerging leaders, the study is both urgent and authoritative.” 

What’s more, i4cp’s Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin explains that the business case to develop leaders with global skills and competencies is very clear. “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,” says Martin. 

“To have sophisticated executives prepared to take key positions at the head of a global organization means having to start early, and integrating global skills into training for first-level leaders. Organizations that haven’t take steps to do so will pay a price later on. Addressing this pressing need calls for commitment, resources and an enlightened and informed approach beyond just skills-building,” adds Davis in a written statement.  

Exploring the ways in which high-performance organizations help leaders build the skills and sophisticated perspective needed to achieve and sustain business results in the global marketplace is the core focus of Developing Global-Minded Leaders to Drive High Performance. Key findings from the study include:

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  • Global development that begins with first-level leaders or individual contributors fuels success. Delaying such efforts until candidates reach higher leadership levels has a negative effect on development effectiveness.
  • Business and financial acumen are fundamental capabilities for leaders; social skills are the real differentiators in the global environment.
  • Experience is a powerful teacher. Active, experiential learning transcends on-the-job training and builds global leaders.
  • Global mindset is a distinctive characteristic of effective global leaders. Embracing cross-cultural diversity and driving collaborative relationships within and beyond organizations are hallmarks of this evolved perspective.

Indeed, 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.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot involved in developing a global mindset, and not all of it is even quantifiable,” observes Janice Hyslip, career planning and leadership development manager for global oilfield services firm Schlumberger. She explains in the report that even for a company renowned for opening global mobility and exposure to diversity to all employees, defining the global mindset can be elusive—not mention developing the experiences required to create a global mindset. This is a testament to the challenges organizations face in global leadership development. 

Developing Global-Minded Leaders to Drive High Performance explores those findings and the development approaches that distinguish top competitors in global business—the next practices that drive both organizational performance and effective global leadership development.