Three Steps to Building an Effective Global Leadership Development Program

January 24, 2017 | BPI Group | HCI
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global leadership development

Global leadership competency is essential in today’s knowledge economy. The Harvard Business Review reports that the international trade of goods, services, finance, people, and data contributed 10% to the world’s GDP in 2014 – equal to $7.8 trillion. Increasingly, the product being exchanged across borders is data and information. Unlike physical goods, the trade of information requires a level of human interpretation to translate, analyze, and apply the data – making cultural competence and global perspective essential skills for today’s leaders.

Indeed, according to a study by the American Management Association, 48% of organizations consider developing global capabilities in their leaders to be a top priority. More worrisome, only 18% of multinational companies say they have the strong leadership pipeline necessary to meet their future business challenges.

So where should we begin to meet that challenge? While operating globally is inherently complex, designing your global leadership development program doesn’t have to be. The following three-step framework can get your organization started in the right direction on your global journey.

Identify the Specific Global Skills and Talent Your Organization Needs
Building global competency in your organization starts with identifying the specific skills you need for the work you do in the places you do it. While some traits like curiosity and comfort with ambiguity are common requirements across the globe, others will vary based on your function and locale. Like packing a suitcase for an international vacation, the tools your leaders need depend upon their destination. Consider:

  • What are the key skills necessary to be successful in any given global leadership position?
  • What are the strengths these leaders need?
  • What are the experiences (e.g. overseas) they will have to have?
  • What are their motivators?
  • What are some key personality traits they might need to have?
  • What are some derailers that person will need to watch out for?

Design Learning and Training

Once you’ve identified the necessary skills and your population of leaders, design your learning and training offerings to meet their needs. We’ve previously shared some of our thoughts on the most effective and practical approaches to designing global training, as well as a white paper on the latest trends in global organizational learning. When developing your program, consider some of these common challenges:

  • The basic barriers of language and time zones
  • Failure to adapt programs locally for cultural differences
  • Creating initiatives that are too varied and inconsistent OR too corporate
  • Lack of diversity or global experience amongst the HR team developing the programs
  • Centralizing initiatives and experience only from the headquarters out, rather than two-way
  • Focusing on global competencies only for those in international roles
  • Failure to integrate initiatives into overall strategy and organizational culture

Grow Experience

After training your leaders on the skills and competencies they’ll need, cultivate these abilities with ongoing experience. While not every organization will have the resources to deploy leaders on international assignments, consider other opportunities to grow these skills:

  • Build virtual global teams and foster international connections among colleagues
  • Offer language/cultural training
  • Look beyond your local market to recruit diverse talent
  • Meet foreign expats locally through international chambers of commerce
  • Encourage employees to expand their news sources to include global channels

Join us January 26th for BPI group’s next HCI webcast, for an in-depth discussion on Developing Effective Global Leaders in a New Age of Learning Tools.