How Do You Develop Your Global Leaders?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Many of today’s organizations struggle to identify current and future global leaders. These same organizations also fail to help their global leaders acquire and leverage the competencies necessary to succeed in the face of globalization. Developing global leadership is more difficult than most companies realize, and failing is easier and more common. Listed below are a few tips for avoiding the common mistakes that surround global leadership development.

Don’t ignore the research. Research on global leadership identifies varying competencies—including having a global business mindset; creativity, innovation, and vision; cultural intelligence (CQ); and collaborative leadership, teambuilding, and partnering—as key factors for success. Many global leadership development programs fail because they lack a systematic internal process to create astute, flexible, and visionary leaders who can hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. To ensure success, develop a coherent training and development process that promotes the attainment of these competencies.

Develop a customized core curriculum for global leadership. Don’t settle for a generic course or two in the corporate university to meet the needs of your global leadership program. Many companies miss the mark by outsourcing their global leadership curriculum to a university where there will be little or no customization to their organization’s needs and culture. Instead, develop a customized curriculum that is directly applicable to the needs of global leadership competencies.

Send them abroad. One of the best ways to promote the success of senior global leaders is to allow them to experience complete immersion in a new culture. International travel is not a substitute for an international assignment. However even when there is an international assignment, there is usually no coordinated training and development plan to develop the skills needed to become a future leader of the organization. As a result, some people return from an international assignment with very few of the competencies mentioned previously.


Once you’ve sent them oversees, measure their progress. There are a number of organizations that include an international assignment as a prerequisite for global leadership positions, but then do not measure whether these employees have gained core global leadership competencies as a result of their assignments. Often those on assignments are “out-of-sight, out-of-mind,” and the significant new information and styles of doing business they are learning are not being captured or measured.

Keep a global focus in executive coaching. While executive coaching has become the norm in many organizations, very few executive coaches have the competency and experience necessary to provide guidance to achieve the qualities of a global leader. By establishing an effective global executive coaching program that targets the specific issues associated with global work, companies will have the key ingredient of the global leadership recipe. Much of this is focused on hidden cultural dimensions that are not seen by either the executive or the coach if they have not been trained in intercultural interactions.

Leverage the potential of leading global project teams. Similar to the aforementioned  international assignment, if the leadership of global project teams is focused purely on functional tasks without a deliberate effort to teach global leadership skills, there is little chance that some of the most important lessons will be appreciated and applied. If such skill building was integrated into the leaders’ development plans, there would be a greater cohort of potential global leaders in the organization.

If organizations wish to succeed in the global marketplace they will need to do a better job of training and developing their global leaders. The current hit or miss approach is much too costly and inefficient. Creative approaches to build the competence of global leaders must be developed and integrated across the organization.

If you have any case studies or examples of best practices in training and developing for global leaders, or any questions concerning tactics that seem to cause companies to fail in this regard, I would be happy to receive them and share them with the other readers of this blog. Please send them to me at

About the Author
Neal Goodman is an internationally recognized authority on globalization, global mindset development, and cultural competence for global corporations. His programs have helped hundreds of thousands of corporate executives to be more effective in international settings by learning how to apply a global mindset. Global Dynamics, the company he co-founded in 1983, designs, organizes, and implements programs that support global mindset development, cultural competence, global team building, global leadership, virtual workforce effectiveness, and diversity and inclusion in leading Fortune 500 companies that wish to succeed in the global arena. As CEO of GDI, he leads a team of more than 400 innovative, cross-cultural experts from around the globe to create in-person, blended, and web-based solutions for his clients.
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