Most organizations are already aware of the decreasing number of employees with leadership skills in the current talent pool. As baby boomers continue to retire, organizations need new leaders to take their place. Unfortunately, there are not enough people with the right skills to take over these roles.
As a result, industry leaders are investing heavily in leadership training and development programs. They know that having a strong pipeline of leaders is essential to the future success of their business. Organizations need effective leaders to navigate change, drive innovation and promote a positive business culture.
Although many of the skills leaders will need in the future are the same as the skills leaders needed in the past, there is one new skill set that is quickly becoming essential: As organizations begin to take a more global approach to business, they need leaders who have the skills to lead in a global organization.
Let’s explore the importance of global leadership skills, what they are and how you can help your high-potential leaders develop them.
The Skills Global Leaders Need
Modern leaders need many skills to be successful, but when it comes to global leadership, there are three major skills that are particularly essential: communication, emotional intelligence and awareness, and an understanding of diversity and inclusion.
Effective Communication Skills for the Global Context
Having the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is an important skill for all leaders, especially leaders who work and collaborate with teams across different countries or regions. Global leaders must not only know how to communicate clearly but also understand the subtle differences in communication styles and expectations in different parts of the world.
Global leaders must be able to adjust their communication styles to project confidence and credibility to the different groups they work with — and they must be able to practice those skills in person and virtually. Doing so means learning how to communicate clearly across different cultures — and being able to do so confidently while using different communication platforms.
Emotional Intelligence and Awareness
Modern leaders must have a high level of both emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be successful in a modern global leadership role. These attributes will ensure that they have what it takes to understand and think deeply about the complexities, nuances and differences of diverse cultures.
Leaders also need to be willing to learn about themselves and have a curiosity and drive to learn about other cultures. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, when it comes to leadership, many cultures value a high level of emotional intelligence even more than the ability to demonstrate authority.
Understanding of Diversity and Inclusivity
Global leaders also need to have a deep working knowledge of the value and concepts of diversity and inclusion. They must be able to actively listen and include ideas that differ from the majority opinion. This approach to leadership promotes a more productive, healthy and innovative work culture.
Leaders often set the example and tone of a workplace. Having the ability to promote diversity and inclusion is an essential skill when it comes to leading global teams and partnerships.
Tips for Developing High-potential Global Leaders
One of the best ways you can ensure that your organization has a strong pipeline of global leaders is through learning and development (L&D) programs. Implementing a leadership development program that focuses on developing global leaders can help your organization in a number of ways. If you already have a leadership program, there are still a few things you can do help developing leaders build the right skills to lead in a global organization:
Get a Head Start
Developing intercultural experiences early on in the leadership development process is one of the best ways you can help your leaders develop global skills. It is also a great way to help them put what they have learned during their executive education into practice.
Your leadership development program should include cultural awareness and diversity and inclusion topics, but you can help promote diversity further by celebrating diversity throughout your organization. Celebrate differences, be intentionally inclusive and promote collaboration. By celebrating diversity, you are setting an example of what inclusion looks like in action.
Develop a Comprehensive Plan
Intentionally map out your leadership development program and the activities that need to take place in order for developing leaders to gain the experiences they need to be successful. Integrate international assignments into employees’ development plans, and assign courses that will help them prepare for and learn more from their experiences.
A Final Note
The once country-centric business world is rapidly shifting toward a more global focus as technology continues to break down barriers. Industry-leading organizations have a strong pipeline of developing leaders to ensure the future success of their businesses — and ensure that those leaders have the skills needed to be effective global leaders. The future of leadership development will focus on developing skills such as advanced communication skills, high levels of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and a deep working knowledge of diversity and inclusion.
Leadership training programs will play a key role in developing effective global leaders, and organizations can implement much of today’s training through comprehensive eLearning experiences. However, new leaders will also need a thorough plan to help them develop these skills and will need to start gaining experience quickly. Equipping leaders with the right knowledge is only the first step; they will also need international assignments to put what they have learned into practice.
Learn more about leadership development in this e-book: “High Potential Leadership Programs.”