Companies ‘need better’ global leadership development

Global leadership development programs are underperforming at many organisations worldwide, a new international survey has suggested.

The American Management Association (AMA) said global leadership is now more important than ever for businesses that want to maintain growth and success.

According to the AMA, the good news is that companies understand the importance of expanding internationally, unfortunately their talent development practices do not match their enthusiasm.

The organisation questioned 1,000 senior business and human resource executives from 57 countries and found 44 per cent are now addressing global leadership. This represents a rise of 13 percentage points since 2010.

Despite this, many admitted global leadership has yet to become ingrained in the company culture. In fact, only 54 per cent of large businesses said they had a specific initiative for global leadership development, or included it on general leadership schemes.

Furthermore, there has been a significant drop in the number of senior executives who believe the effectiveness of their global leadership development programs is 'high' or 'very high'.

In 2010, 42 per cent were confident in the quality of their initiatives, but this tumbled to 19 per cent this year. Large organisations are performing slightly better, with 21 per cent claiming 'high' or 'very high' effectiveness.

Jennifer Jones, director at AMA Enterprise, said the results show the “sad state of global leadership development”, although she added that they could help guide future improvement.

“Developing leaders with global skills and competencies is about enabling the organisation to operate more effectively on a global basis,” she explained.

“But it's also about creating a more inclusive culture and equipping leaders to be better at collaborating with, coaching, and influencing employees of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and customs.”

Ms Jones said global leadership development is more than just a trend – businesses must see it as an essential component for building future success.

Improving global leadership 'important'

The importance of improving global leadership in Australia was recently highlighted by Hays, with the company urging both employers and staff to concentrate on this area.

Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand, said the modern business landscape requires managers to be talented at working seamlessly across multiple cultures.

“In our globalised economy, good leaders avoid the narrow-minded view that if an approach works in their country it will work in another. Cultural sensitivity is an important competency for leaders today,” he stated.

The AMA survey was compiled in conjunction with employee performance research firm i4cp. The latter organisation's Chief Research Officer, Kevin Martin, said firms must focus on improving their global leadership.

“Companies have to ratchet up efforts to develop leaders with global skills and competencies