Leadership Development Is A Global Challenge

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Leadership development continues to be an important strategy, supporting organizational growth in all types of economies. This is driven not only by growth of the company with resulting promotions and increasing leadership complexity, but also by globalization, technology and automation and talent mobility. A key driver of leadership development, and talent development at all levels, is increasing concern about skills shortages and talent mobility. Both developed and developing economies are experiencing shortages of talent.

global-leadership-developmentTechnology (like the Internet of Things) and process automation in all types of roles (see this McKinsey article on workplace automation) require employees to step up into these roles, whether or not they feel they are fully equipped to handle all of the responsibilities of the roles that need to be filled. Leaders and managers need to be able to motivate, lead and retain these skilled employees. In both developed and developing economies, Generation X and Y (millennials) are seeking more development and career pathing. Naturally, the increasing demand for these employees is leading to an increase in their mobility.

Leadership development is a frequent topic at our global partner meetings. Many CEOs are realizing that the greatest impediment to achieving their strategic goals is their lack of ability to recruit and retain key employees. The reputation of a company’s leadership is often a driver of success or failure in recruiting these employees.

Clearly, developed economies and developing economies have somewhat different issues but there are many common strategies. As talent development grows, many companies are using blended programs of learning modules, action learning, certificate programs, and coaching. At the executive level, leadership development usually begins with assessments to assist in identifying key issues. The more global and sophisticated the company or organization is, the more they are apt to use sophisticated, globally validated assessments. We see this not only with privately owned and public companies but also with many large state-owned enterprises where they are a key part of the economy.

Executive coaching ensures that an organization will have leaders who are self-aware and ready to lead the organization. A strong leadership “bench” is becoming more important as mergers and acquisitions increase. If a company acquires an organization in another country, they need to ensure the leadership of the acquired organization can grow the combined enterprise.

As all companies become more global, more and more leaders are required to manage virtual teams. Beyond the complexity of time zones (e.g., coordinating meetings is always a challenge), there are the issues of differences in communication and culture. Even when there aren’t language challenges, leaders need to be sensitive to differences in how to manage, motivate and develop employees in different cultures. As a result, more companies are using assessments validated in many countries and in-country coaching to prepare executives for these assignments.

As globalization increases and the workforce continues to become more mobile, all organizations will need to develop and retain a highly trained leadership team, whether the organization is in one country, 5 countries, or 50 plus.

Steve is Managing Partner, OIGP Massachusetts. He has co-founded four businesses and grew a global business. Steve’s career has been spent working with corporate executives both inside organizations and in transition. His insight and coaching have helped many executives across the globe to enhance their performance and achieve their goals.

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