Building Global Leaders – Issues and Challenges


“The Era of globalization is fast becoming the preferred term for describing the current times. Just as the expression the cold Era was and the space age are used to describe for particular periods of history just the same way the globalization describes the political, the economic and the cultural psyche of today.

People around the globe are more connected to each other than ever before. Information and money flow more quickly than ever. Goods and services produced in one country are increasingly available in all parts of the world. International travel is more frequent and international communication has become commonplace. This phenomenon has been titled as “globalization”.

Before we start let us clarify who is a leader & what are the principles of leadership. A leader is one who:

·Walks uphill – an arduous but adventurous path

·Has a dream, makes strategic business choices, which he translates into a vision.

·Has big picture and a long term vision

·Shares the vision to inspire and mobilize people to deploy their potentials and energy.

·Encounters constraints but persists

·Provides support and gets best out of every one including the mediocre and non-performers

·Makes and difference

·Creates new work culture through professionalism.

·Leaves a mark through delivery of goals and objectives and results.

·Contributes by giving shape to the organization and its growth. (Parikh Indira J, Unpublished consultancy report)


·Know yourself and seek self-improvement

·Be technically proficient

·Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

·Make sound and timely decisions

·Set the organization

·Know your profile and look out for their well-being

·Keep your people informed

·Develop a sense responsibility in your people

·Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished

·Train your people as a team

·Use the full capabilities of your own

Today’s Indians and Indian organization present mixed images of their potentials and their present. There was a time, many eons ago when India as a century reflected quality of products and a country fill of wealth and riches, which was plundered many times ever with the beginnings of industrialization and the starting of assembly line mass production India initiated processes of adapting, adopting and borrowing western technology, management structures tools and techniques and management knowledge from the west.

Today’s industrialized India and its organization are considered to be produces of shabby goods, borrowers of all technology and products aping the west is life style and living reflecting the image of poverty over populations and lacking all infrastructure of education health and hygiene for its citizens.

For all the talk about global organization. There is no definitive answer to the question of what, exactly we mean by ‘global’ is it a presence in multiple countries or is it a cultural adaptability or a multilingual executive team? However, in today’s world every organization and executives face a barrage of leadership challenges culturing around the globe. These challenges appear constantly as recurring trends in today’s world of work, and which are mentioned below.


Transition is becoming a long – term reality in today’s world of work. Changing technology and a global economy are two of the leading factors driving these trends. Organizational change, such as downsizing, merger or restructuring has become the norm for the transformation of organization. The anxieties and apprehensions triggered of the transition period the centered around the following themes.

1.Introduction of new state of the art technology or upgrading technology generated tremendous anxiety and apprehensions for employees in the organizations. To a majority of employee’s introduction of new technology meant streamlining of the organization and as such reduction in people across levels. The employees are intelligent and experienced to know that in order for the organization to be competitive and cost effective the numbers had to come down drastically. The nagging question confronted by most employees was what would the organization do with the additional people if they did not ask them to leave? Many CEOs reassured the employees that they would not be asked to leave but the performance needed to improve which would then be monitored and measured. Lack of answers to these questions made most employees uncertain of their location and jobs in the organization.

2.Redesigning of organization structure meant reallocation of existing people in key positions. The designers and policy makers held these decisions back for a long time and there was very little transparency in the decisions. This added to the fear and anxieties at the staff and managerial level. The lack of openness and transparency in sharing this thinking created gossip, speculations and inferences, which created panic and unrealistic versions and meanings of reality. The process of articulation was held back as there were concerns and apprehensions about throwing out some of the loyal, dedicated and sincere employees who had truly become redundant.

3.Whatever was known of restructuring and redefining of managerial roles through the grapevine or directly suggested was that some functions were bound to become redundant or non-existent. Those functional role-holders became quite apprehensive of their status, location and position in the new set up. The lack of information, uncertainty and ambiguity added fuel to the fire in the organization. The management came under great criticism for bringing change in the organization without including the employees or inviting their participation.

4.The hierarchical layered structure got attention to be redesigned to a flat structure. This meant removing or reducing the disparity, which existed amongst levels as well as across levels of management. However, this also created anxiety around issues of redundancy and limited opportunities for growth or career path.

The global organizations themselves are grappling with the flux and transition and responding to transformation in different ways. Today, the task of the new leader is to influence and direct through ideas and imagination, to share power instead of amassing it. Avers Warren Bennis: “Whips and chains are no longer an alternative; Leaders must learn to change the nature of power and how it is employed” (Jayakar, Roshni, 1996).

Leaders who invest personally in the process of developing future leaders are also building the most precious of organizational assets. The long-run success of leaders cannot be measured by whether they win today or tomorrow. The measure will be whether their company is still winning 15 years from now, when a new generation of leaders has taken over. (Tichy Noel, 1999).

Transformation means redesigning business processes, even inventing new ones. Business Processes should be redesigned to contribute simplicity, speeds and balances. Change masters use information technology to alter the basis of competition.

Hearts and Minds: Transformation is a people issue. The way they handle change makes the difference between success and failure. Harvard Professor John Kotter writes “Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help. Employees will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured”.

Present success does not guarantee future success. And neither does change. Organizations in the process of transforming themselves must do so in the context of their long-term corporate goals. Company leaders should ask themselves: “How do we anticipate change?” “How do we manage it”?.


Managers and organization today face a host of leadership challenges. These challenges are of fell nature.

1)Transformation: – Transformation is becoming a long-term reality in today’s work place. Changing technology and a global economy are two of the leading factors, which the leader has to face. The best laid plans for organizational a structural change are frequently undermined by a failure to exist strong leadership. So successfully navigate the transition leaders and organization needs to understand the human side of transition and build a culture of trust. As such leader needs to willing to explore and learn from their own emotional transitions in order to foster such efforts in others.

2)Cultural Adaptability: – Cultural adaptability is the willingness and ability to recognize, understand and work effectively across cultural differences. These differences can include language, religion and social customers, among others. As the organization becomes more global, cultural adaptability is becoming a vital skill for managerial success.

A Culturally adaptable global leader can:

·Evaluate the work of others in a culturally neutral way.

·Effectively select and develop people in multiple cultural settings.

·Inspire information sharing among individuals who as not know/see each others.

·Motivate multicultural teams, effectively.

3)Conflict management: – Difficult interactions, hidden organization end as, tensions and frustration can all trigger off conflict in the workplace. Ongoing conflict can sabotage productivity, cooperation and communication. However, when leaders manage conflict effectively, organization can experience positive benefits, such as better decision-making, a more open environment and an organization that stimulates creativity and innovation. To manage conflicts, leaders need to learn to recognize it and then address it.

4)Emotional Intelligence/ Effective Relationships: – Emotional intelligence is more than just a buzz word. It’s at the core of a leader’s ability to relate well to others leaders are unable to generate the commitment alignment and culture needed to survive and thrive in complex times. The ability to build effective relationships is one of the most important key components of leadership challenges.

Building a resilient work force requires authentic emotional leadership from managers who understand the links between emotions, vulnerability, learning and adaptability.

The world’s most successful companies know that changing before the next downturn or market shift indeed, changing before you have to — is the new rule of the game. As Jack Welch says, “Change should not be event”, but rather a continuous process in the quest for success. (Salazar Rachael, 1995).

The fact that globalization is having such an impact on many organization means that the number of people prepared to invest in understanding global leadership is increasing. However, the organization needs to build and nourish the leaders. But question is on what basis the systematic global leadership can be build. Many studies levels that truly great organization do not select their leader from outside.

Many organizations have system that constantly assess, develop, motivate and monitor leadership. They provide a strong continuity of excellence from within. As such an effective global leader is emerged through the leadership continuity loop.

Leadership needs to be assessed from two perspectives that of the individual leader and the economic and strategic needs of the organization. However, global leader needs to review the demands to which the organization is play. This is very important because global leaders operate across multiple economics on the organization may look dramatically different.

However, the organization needs to assess the behavioral competing of global leaders. For that, the organization needs to create a framework, which describes the attributes in terms of visible actions that when applied consistently in organizational settings will have direct impact on the sustainability of the organization. Behavioral competency of global leader can be identified on the basis of set of leadership competencies that are required for high performance and the ability to operate in a fast changing world, as researched by Prof. Harry Schroder a U.S. expert on leadership competencies. Prof. Schroder framework identifies clusters of behavioral strengths cluster into four sets Strategic, Participative, charismatic and performance.

Though assessment is key to leadership success, it is also important to stress that the organization needs to design work focused on rigorous benchmarks for assessing leadership potential and capability as it will enables the organization to create a comprehensive and measurable yardstick of leaders. This can be possible if the organization facilitate the leaders to fell the leadership continuity process.


To successfully navigate change leaders and organization need to understand the human side of transition and build a culture of trust.

Having lived in comfort zones for long periods of time, the organization is now experiencing the pain and turmoil of   dislocation  from these zones. However, if change has to take place and if new choices have to be operationalized, this  dislocation  is necessary. The organization is grappling with new directions. Pockets of enthusiasm, anticipation, an eagerness to take on challenges and an inner urge for movement and growth are beginning to emerge throughout the organization.

However, the perfect global leader is the one who processes the characteristics and competencies of the following nature.

·Ability to emotionally connect with others

·Ability to instill values


·Articulating a tangible vision/values/strategy

·Balancing global versus local tensions

·Building organizational networks

·Catalyst for cultural change

·Catalyst for strategic change

·Interlinkages and managing cross-cultural ethics

·Global business savvy

·Global organizational savvy

·Global mindset

·Global networking

·Recognition expertise

·Learning orientation

Global leadership is an important factor in future business success. By recognizing the expectations of leaders, organization needs to be better equipped to guide global leaders and create a pool of potential leadership talent for the future.