Sunday, June 6, 2010

Developing Global Leaders

Developing Global Leaders

Learning professionals must equip leaders at all levels of the organization to:

a) Manage dynamic complexity.
b) Respond with agility to crisis and opportunity.
c) Embrace the democratization of knowledge.
d) Engage the wisdom of crowds and social networks to innovate and grow the business in new markets.
e) Build global cross-cultural competence as a critical business skill.

First, CLOs must craft a competency model that authentically describes these skills, behaviors and knowledge through the global mindset lens. Then, they must create a progressive curriculum that develops individuals to become global leaders.

Each employee then can enter the curriculum at the appropriate level, based on what he or she already has learned and mastered, not by level or position.

One of the best paths to build needed global skills is an immersion into the international context. As Oliver Wendell Holmes has stated: "A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." Initiatives to develop global leadership competencies currently focus on engaging individuals and teams in global, mini-expatriate assignments in several countries, functions and roles. The next innovation would be to replicate the expat experience in a virtual world and make it available to all.

Two examples of mini-expat initiatives are:

1. VF Corp
Ron Lawrence, vice president of organization development for the global apparel company, helped launch an innovative short-term assignment program called Ex-Pat Lite. Like other large companies, VF has a growing need for global leaders but is challenged by the extremely high costs of full expat relocations as well as finding talented executives who are willing to move. The Ex-Pat Lite program allows VF to provide meaningful global learning and growth experiences to rising leaders at a fraction of the cost of a full relocation and with less disruption to the individual and his or her family. The usual duration is three to six months with a solid re-entry process back into the home country.

2. Berlitz International and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business
Language and cross-cultural training company Berlitz International joined forces with the Georgetown McDonough School of Business to launch a global leadership development program that provides a rich combination of language training, communication skills, cross-cultural competence, global strategic business acumen and global leadership development. It is delivered over six months in four one-week sessions held in four hubs. Each of these locations was chosen for the role it plays in global business: London (global finance); Shanghai (supply chain and manufacturing); Bangalore (outsourcing and IT); and Washington (global business and industry policy). Each week leverages on-the-ground experiences and the development of business networks and insights while building intercultural leadership capabilities.

There are many examples of companies that entered global markets without understanding local consumer behavior, regulatory constraints, and even the implications of brand names that have a completely different meaning in another language. Consider the revelation that resulted from introducing the Chevy Nova in Mexico, where "no va" means "no go."

Preparing leaders to acquire, master and maintain global leadership capability is key to every organization's survival.

[About the Authors: Eileen M. Rogers is vice president of global talent solutions for TMC. Daren Blonski is managing director of LeadershipSigma

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