Article Analysis – Developing Global Leaders

The article “Developing global leaders”  is based on the importance of intercultural training of people with the requisite aptitudes to become global leaders in a complex and dynamic environment. Global leaders are defined as “executives… in jobs with international scope”. Considered a competitive advantage that leads to financial success of multinational firms when well-trained, global leaders are mandated to make strategies and plans on a global scale, expand organizations into foreign markets and manage dispersed and diverse teams.

The article looks at the tasks and activities performed by global leaders, the aptitudes required of global leaders and how to train and develop these leaders. It also looks at various interactions of individual aptitudes with developmental initiatives and makes recommendations on how to develop global leaders. The article has a comprehensive list of references relevant to the topic and time the paper was written.

Continual development of global leaders is recommended to enable the leaders effectively perform tasks and activities entrusted to them. The author faults most previous study on development of global leadership for focusing on expatriate assignment, noting that global leadership does not constitute of expatriates alone. She notes that there is global leadership domestically located that also requires internationally-oriented knowledge, skills and personality characteristics. It is this broader definition of global leadership that forms the basis for the methods discussed on how to develop effective global leaders.

Overview of the methods for training and developing global leaders is based on the approaches of worker-oriented job analysis and aptitude-treatment-interaction. Worker-oriented job analytic approach is premised on the fact that people who perform a certain job have particular knowledge, skills, abilities and characteristics; hence global leaders have a denominator of required aptitudes. The article suggests these aptitudes. Aptitude-treatment-interaction approach premises that based on their aptitudes, people benefit differently from similar training. The article looks at the levels of mutability of the various attributes of global leaders. The author argues that “offering the right people the right developmental opportunities will produce leaders who can effectively perform global leadership tasks and activities”.

The tasks of global leaders are defined as working and communicating with colleagues and clients from within and without a country. It includes developing, implementing and managing a strategic business plan, long-term plans and budgets by supervising diverse international employees and negotiating with various stakeholders.

Certain knowledge, skills, abilities and personality characteristics are mentioned as a requisite for global leaders. These include knowledge about international business and about various cultures. Skills required are intercultural interaction, foreign language and cognitive ability. The article lists five factors that predispose people to succeed in international environments that include extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and intellect.

Differentiating training as focused on the individual while development as focused on the organization, the author recommends training and development of global leaders through “formal education, mentoring, immersion programs and developmental assignments” in categories of “didactic learning programs, experiential opportunities and intensive experiences”. The effectiveness of the training and development programs is cited as being affected by individual knowledge, skills, abilities and personality characteristics, with intervention in knowledge, skills and abilities being more mutable than intervention in personality characteristics.

The author recommends that firms carefully consider whether to “buy” or “make” global leaders based on time and criticality. Training and development opportunities need to be based on personality characteristics since these are relatively immutable. The aptitude denominator for global leaders should be considered in development and performance management. Strategic global organizations should develop and implement plans for development of their leaders to help their organizations achieve their business goals through effective performance management and succession planning.

Shortcoming

The article does not mention the importance of technology in modern business. Translation, interconnectedness and big data are some important global business issues that require understanding and leveraging of technology by global leaders and international organizations.

The paper is a good basis for development of global leaders. While many of the recommendations are still valid today, the fact that we live in a constantly changing environment with rapid technological development means that some more specific aptitudes may be needed to thrive in the present environment; a decade after the article was written.

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