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Going Global? Make Sure Your Leaders are Part of the Solution

By Stephanie Neal and Evan Sinar, Ph.D.

Stephanie Neal Sinar Evan

When tasked with redesigning a program to enhance leaders’ skills in driving global expansion of your business, how do you choose which leadership skills to focus on? With more regularity, your leaders will be communicating with customers, colleagues and partners from diverse cultural backgrounds, many of who will likely be globally dispersed. Consequently, you’re under more pressure to find and develop employees that not only possess strong leadership and technical skills, but also have an ability to thrive in a global work environment. 

Global Leadership Forecast 2013|2014How much will it cost if you neglect developing leaders’ global leadership skills? Not only is the risk of dissatisfaction and turnover high when leaders are sent on expatriate assignments unequipped to deal with cultural complexity — there’s also the potential for internal conflict within their work teams, the potential damage to your brand or reputation, not to mention the risk of losing revenue or clients. Leaders who make a transition to a different part of the world are forced to confront cultural complexity head on; facing new challenges that require specific skills in response. Under these pressures, who succeeds and who fails, and how do best-in-class organizations mitigate these risks and improve leader success rates in managing with a global lens? 

We are exploring this topic — among many others — right now through our Global Leadership Forecast. Talent management professionals and leaders around the world are providing their perspective on how much focus on and readiness they have in various leadership skills, including three that are indispensable when it comes to managing across cultures: intercultural communication within international business environments, an ability to integrate themselves into intercultural or foreign environments, and of course, an ability to lead across countries and cultures.

We already know that a shortage of global leadership skill posed a problem three years ago when we last conducted this study in 2011. A mere 26% of leaders rated themselves as highly effective in their ability to lead across countries – the lowest rating of any leadership skill area by a long shot. We’re not optimistic that there has been dramatic improvement in this area in the last three years, but with your help, we will learn and share the answers to key related — and we feel, underexplored — questions including:

  • How does the emphasis on global leadership skills differ for multinational corporations and for organizations that are in a greater mode of global expansion?
  • How does a lack of focus on these skills affect leaders’ readiness to drive global expansion?
  • What are current success rates for leaders on expatriate assignments, and do they differ for organizations that have had a heavier focus on developing these global leadership skills?

Wouldn’t you like to know how prepared YOUR leaders are to operate in a global environment? There are only a few weeks left to participate and to find out.  If you have at least one HR professional and 30 leaders complete the Global Leadership Forecast surveys, your organization will receive a customized report benchmarking your organization against your peers on this topic as just one of many insightful, actionable findings.

Stephanie Neal is a research associate for DDI's Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research.

Evan Sinar, Ph.D., is the chief scientist and director of DDI's Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research.

DDI is built to serve multinational clients. Learn how to simplify your global talent management projects.

Posted: 16 Oct, 2013,
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