Great Global Leaders Study: 4 Myths, 2 Truths

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Successfully managing a business, team or project across multiple, complex and diverse geographies would earn you the reputation of being a Great Global Leader.  As in situations where you are co-located with your stakeholders, being globally successful means reaching goals and maintaining relationships.  However, the root of the Global Leader challenge lies in the complexity of the global role.

According to a Corporate Executive Board’s recent study, compared to leaders co-located with their teams, Global Leaders, in general:

  •  Work with 17% more people they do not directly manage,
  •  Are 32% less likely to have accurate market information,
  •  Have a 74% broader span of responsibilities,
  •  Work with 160% more stakeholders.

4 Myths debunked by the study:

  1. Great Global Leaders do not need prior international experience. (more than ½ of the great ones are in their 1st international role).
  2. Local language fluency does not determine performance.
  3. Deep knowledge of the culture in their markets does not predict success (it’s important, but relying on a trusted peer or advisor is sufficient, if not better).
  4. Demographics (age, level, tenure) do not differentiate Great Global Leaders from other leaders.

2 Truths found by the study:

1.   Of the variety of  practices common to the role of leadership (Vision, Decision Making, Delegation, Creativity, Resource Allocation, Risk Taking, Remote Management, Complexity Management, Critical Thinking),  COMPETENCE IN ESSENTIAL INFLUENCING SKILLS was by far the most important personal asset determining global leadership success. Great Global Leaders know how to plan and use key influencing skills:

  • Bargaining (by practicing assertiveness with other leaders at same level)
  • Rational Persuasion (when outcomes can be measured)
  • Inspirational Appeal, (when there is limited, or no data),
  • Authority (most relevant to apply in lower organizational levels)

2.   Having a strong global peer and customer network, across silos, has greater positive impact on being a Great Global Leader than does speaking the local language or deep knowledge of local customs and culture.  The trusted network will help keep you on the right path.

TAKE-AWAY:  Spend less time worrying about whether you should kiss, bow or shake hands, and pay more attention to developing trusted relationships (over time); and on appropriately using some of your atrophied influence muscles (Inspirational Appeal? Authority? Assertiveness?).

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