"The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of General Electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires. We have to send our best and brightest overseas and made sure they have the training that will allow them to be the global leaders who will make GE flourish in the future."
Jack Welch was Chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company's value rose 4000% . Essentially in above statement what Jack talked about is Global Leadership. We all know, General Electric has been leading the list of fortune 500 companies for decades however the concept of global leadership is essential not only for fortune 500 companies but many small and medium businesses.
Today, economies of most countries all over the world are integrated. The impact of cultural, social or economic changes in other countries can affect your business. To shield your business from suffering losses and importantly to take advantage of global business opportunities, your business needs a global leadership.
So what is global leader - one who travels overseas or one who does business abroad? Well, it is about having a global mindset of managing integrated business across boarder. If you wish to be a global leader, you need to develop global mindset. Following is the list of activities you need to consider to develop mindset
Understand which business dynamics warrant you to consider global aspects of your business. Do you source material from (or outsource work to) other countries? Where are your customers, business partners, resellers located? And do they in turn deal with different locations? Essentially you need to identify the global elements in the entire lifecycle of your business.
If your business partners or customers or vendors are located overseas, you need to understand cultural, economic and political systems in these countries. If you travel to these locations, you will understand their systems in better manner.
One cannot be omnipresent and if your business needs to grow beyond boundaries, you will have to delegate your work to respective countries. You will have to set up Global Teams; it also means, part of the global workforce will be sitting in your head office. It should have members from diverse background (academic, social, cultural, etc.) who can effectively deal with local business and easily integrate with your business and culture. It is always two way process, the exchange between cultures.
General Electric is known for transfer to foreign locations, so is ABB and many other. For you to stay, work and learn from the experience of cross border appointment. Transfer to cross boarder location infuses better integration of cultures, experiences, etc. learning.
Often dealing with different people from different cultural and other background involves elements of complexity and ambiguity. A constant global outlook can help you to deal with these in better manner. However context is the most important aspect above all points mentioned above. Understanding context can stem from the basic - which all location should you consider, what is your strategy, what are business, economic outlook for these countries, etc. You will also need to exhibit, diverse behavioral patterns while dealing with different people.
I just mentioned about behavioral aspect. There is a lot more that you as a business leader will have to introspect; e.g. The Hay Group has researched and pointed out six leadership styles . It clarifies that there is no one best style of leadership because each style has its own strengths and limitations and is apt in specific situations. The effective global leader has to understand these styles distinctly and apply those in different situations as appropriate.
As mentioned earlier, no one style is the best and as a global leader you will have to consider all these styles depending on the situation.
The important take away would be to succinctly understanding interdependent aspects of cross-border businesses and leading from diverse workforce will give you extra mileage from your competition.
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