Global Leadership Development: Everybody's Game

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 24, 2020

By AMA Enterprise

American Management Association, the Institute for Corporate Productivity, and Training magazine joined together this past year to conduct the fourth annual review of global leadership development in the world. Nearly 1,200 practitioners worldwide participated in the survey.
According to the survey report, findings “paint a picture of firms laser-focused on bringing effective global leadership development to their workforces, from their expanded definition of a leader to their shrinking tolerance for lack of results.” Among 10 key findings, three stand out prominently as pillars in supporting a new outlook for Global Leadership Development (GLD).

There is a shift to defining leaders by influence, not role. More than half of participants from High-Performing Organizations (HPOs) define leaders not by their position on the organization chart but by their degree of influence and performance. With flatter, more matrixed organizations, individuals are discovering the need for leadership skills while collaborating with colleagues in another business unit, sharing expertise with peers in a different geographic location or working on ad hoc projects. This broader definition correlates to higher market performance.

 Strategic Workforce Planning is playing a pivotal role in driving GLD content. The study noted, “Long-term strategies and values continue to drive global leadership development."

The  study finds increased emphasis on using strategic workforce planning (SWP) to identify competency gaps and drive the content of GLD. Nearly twice as many high-performing organizations as low-performing organizations use SWP in this manner, which correlates to Global Leadership Development Effectiveness.

Critical competencies related to technology and innovation need mastery but are absent from many GLD programs. Organizations are aware of their neglect in key areas of development. The top four competencies that are missing from GLD yet considered important—increased comfort with virtual technology, social network technology, creativity, and building a culture of innovation—are also among the top six competencies identified as having the greatest need for mastery, along with managing virtual teams.

As a base for this report, broader findings about GLD from 2013 were compared to results from previous years. To begin, more organizations are addressing global leadership development this year. The proportion of respondents indicating that their firms had some form of formal GLD was at 31% in both 2010 and 2012; that proportion grew to 39% in 2013. More than half (52%) standardize their GLD for consistency but tweak it at the local level to reflect cultural or geographic nuances. Also, organizations have tempered self-assessments of their Global Leadership Development Effectiveness (GLDE) from previous years. The proportion reporting GLDE in the top two ratings rose from 2010 (42%) to 2011 (47%) to 2012 (51%) but fell in 2013 to 40%—with even HPOs reporting just 48%. This suggests recognition of the work yet to be done to elevate GLD to meet even higher standards of excellence.

The 2013 report shows that reaching a higher bar for GLD will take concerted efforts from everyone—from employees throughout the company and throughout the world who clamor for these critical skills, to the skilled experts who deliver them, to the top executives who direct the thinking that drives GLD programs. Global leadership development is, indeed, everybody’s game.

In all, the study found 10 key findings. Here are the top three:

 Key Finding 1: Increasing global competition and uncertainty with regard to regulations or legislation are the top two factors impacting an organization's ability to perform on the global stage. This is true among High-Performing Organizations (HPOs) and among those with top ranking in Global Leadership Development Effectiveness (GLDE), where one-third point to increasing global competition as a significant trend factoring into their global growth. rate.

Key Finding 2: A subtle but critical transformation is taking place. Organizations are recognizing that the term “leader” applies to a far broader audience than those at the top echelon of the corporate organization chart. The largest proportion of participants in this study, nearly four in 10, says that their definition of “leader” is “anyone whose role allows them to influence a group, regardless of direct reporting relationships.”

Key Finding 3: Continuing the trends seen in the 2012 survey, long-term business strategies and corporate values remain the primary drivers of the GLD process in 2013. Differing, however, is the finding that strategic workforce planning (SWP) is playing an increasing and impactful role in driving GLD. 

Copyright 2013, American Management Association 

About the Author(s) 

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