Global Leadership: Why Such a Struggle?

There are 9,497 books with ‘global leadership’ in the title on, as of January 12, 2012.  Yet multinational organizations continue to struggle with how to develop their global leaders.  We see that daily in our work with these organizations at the Najafi Global Mindset Institute at Thunderbird School of Global Management.   
Why is global leadership development so difficult to figure out?  
There are many reasons, and chief among them is that global leadership is complex.  It encapsulates management, leadership, diversity, intercultural competence, and strategy, to name a few critical areas.  So the questions for those tasked with developing global leaders are weighty: 
  • What do global leaders need to know?
  • Where do I start in developing our global leaders?
Our extensive, research-based findings show there are three key areas to develop: Intellectual Capital, Social Capital, and Psychological Capital.  Each of these consists of 3 dimensions, in which we have isolated specific behaviors and development suggestions.  Intellectual Capital includes global business savvy, cognitive complexity, and cosmopolitan outlook.  Social Capital is comprised of intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, and diplomacy.  While Psychological Capital consists of passion for diversity, quest for adventure, and self-assurance.  More detailed information about each of these can be found at 
Where do I start in developing our global leaders?
Since global leadership is complex, it is important to have a strategy for where to start with development.  We recommend starting by assessing their current level of development using the Global Mindset Inventory®.  It is a psychometric instrument that has been rigorously validated to measure an individual’s development level in each of the three Capitals.  More than 12,500 people have now used this instrument for their global leadership development.  
After you know their strengths and gaps, identify development opportunities that align with organizational needs.  This does not necessarily mean finding their weakest areas.  It means considering what is most important for your organization’s objectives and the requirements of the role compared to current development levels.  Lastly, plan for development actions, measurements, and timelines.  
Now that you know what global leaders need to know, it is a good time to assess what development opportunities and tools already exist in your organization.  The point is not to recreate the wheel (unless you don’t even have a wheel!), but to start by leveraging what you already have for success.  I’ll be writing more on our findings of the dynamic methods that are needed to produce results in the next blog post.
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