How to develop (true) global leaders Premium

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If you think that strong skills and a little international experience are enough to qualify a person as a global leader, think again. In today’s increasingly complex world, it is no longer possible adlib action, influence, and success across a wide range of countries and cultures. Companies need executives who are open-minded, have the ability to harness disparate resources, and who are committed to more than simply making a profit.


Fewer than 2% of the companies on Fortune’s Global 500 list generate more than 20% of their revenue in at least three different countries.

76% of CEOs believe their companies should further develop their managers’ global leadership skills, while more than 30% of American CEOs say they continue to miss out on international business opportunities due to a lack of “globally” qualified people.

Here are three keys to developing genuinely global managers:

1. Develop specific skills
Instead of giving in to the temptation to use one-size-fits-all training modules, companies should approach skill development from a geographical perspective, training people to deal with the particularities of the countries targeted for business development.

2. Use the local talent pool
To compete with local employers, multinationals in emerging countries should lower their expectations in terms of formal education and show local talent that they offer career opportunities to evolve into strategic positions.

3. Push high potentials to leave their comfort zone.
Companies should put their high potentials on rockier career development paths that include lengthy international assignments in order to accustom them to opening their minds and ways to other cultures.

Business leader testimony
The Johnson & Johnson Group earns 70% of their revenue outside of the United States are thus well aware that business impacts of their decisions goes beyond national borders. The company thus pools the skills of its various subsidiaries and forms numerous partnerships with other businesses. The result speaks for itself: Johnson & Johnson reported $65 billion dollars in revenue in 2011.

Read our dossier
What is a global leader today?

Based on, among others, Being Global by Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh, Beyond Tribalism by Celia de Anca and “Hidden Dimensions of Culture and Intercultural Management” by Gebhard Deissler, and an interview with Deborah Winter, global talent manager at Johnson & Johnson, September 2012.
Business Digest no. 230, October 2012.

To watch the video
Dr. Angel Cabrera on International Business Opportunities

Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, discusses how business people need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities in emerging global markets. Dr. Cabrera spoke at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Phoenix Forum, “Business Beyond Our Borders,” on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.