Global Transitions Research
By David Howells, EMEA Region Head, Martin Global Leaders
Before we embarked on our recent research on Global Leadership Transitions we were aware that global leaders, and the organizations within which they work, are frequently frustrated by the length of time that it takes for them to achieve their desired goals. As a result, organizations have frequently been slower than desired in delivering the required results and stakeholders at home and overseas have felt it necessary to ask: “Why?”. Some have described the challenge as being akin to playing 3D Chess.
Our working hypothesis was that the mere issue of cultural difference was not a sufficient explanation for this frequent delay in success. Our intuition and anecdotal evidence was that it was the interaction between national cultures and organizational cultures, both local and HQ, that was the grit in the oyster.
Instead of theorizing on the possible causes, we have recently been carrying out research with experienced global leaders who have “been there and done it”, to find out what eased their paths towards international success and, of course, what got in their way. Here are some key insights:
Key insights from the Global Transitions research:
- Global leaders need a complete understanding of dynamic balance between both national culture and organizational values/culture.
- While national culture is critical for a global leader to understand, it can be trumped by organizational values/culture, especially in large MNCs.
- What leaders often struggle with most is tension between organizational cultures across geographies along with their competing priorities and needs.
- Planning the Mission: in advance of the new assignment, it is essential for the leader to identify who s/he is, where s/he is going, how long it will take and the pressures that will both challenge and inform his/her leadership style.
- The individual’s own “leadership drive” was a stabilizing force that helped guide and balance the individual during their transition. When clear within themselves about their “leadership drive” they were able to use this to best effect internally and externally.
- Personal, family and organization support is critical for success in taking on the new leadership role.
- Getting established in the new market is complex and frequently disorienting, and needs to be planned with great care.
To discuss our other findings, feel free to contact David Howells or Craig Martin. We would be pleased to hear about your experiences and share our thoughts.