Posted on 27 Nov 2011
As the world of work is becoming increasingly global, the critical competencies required in multi national corporations (MNCs) are being defined by dynamic economic, geopolitical and cultural forces.
Are leaders adapting their mindsets and skill-sets in tune with these forces, and in time to capitalize on them?
And how does leadership in an MNC differ from a fully localized organization?
In the HBR article Making it Overseas, the authors note that there are distinct attributes that define global leaders. Whilst these would be useful for all leaders, in MNCs they can distinguish between success and failure.
Attributes such as having a cosmopolitan outlook, a thirst for adventure, intercultural empathy and diplomacy become critical success factors in the global leadership sphere.
Imagine a leader with a parochial mental bandwidth, accustomed to working in a one-dimensional homogenous culture with long standing entrenched norms: is this the man you would confidently hand the reigns of a diverse, complex, growing and changing foreign affiliate?
Another emerging leadership capability is paradox management. More and more, the business challenges facing MNCs are complex and sometimes sensitive, and no single solution, management model or precedent, adequately applies.
Leaders don’t deal with problems that have a correct solution – they confront paradoxes in which conflicting poles may each have validity. Consider a scenario in which a leader must implement a strategic global imperative that has negative consequences for the local community. For example, closing remote community bank branches to streamline operational effectiveness through centralization.
In Developing Transnational Leaders, the authors cite five types of paradoxes that challenge global leaders and highlight the mental agility required to succeed in these roles, which speaks of a more complex and interconnected business environment that will demand a new breed of leader able to rise to the challenge and thrive in this new world.