November 8, 2023

Global leadership training has failed us. Here's how to fix it.

The business world has gone global, but leadership training programs have not.

Many leadership resources overlook the challenge of applying their teachings globally. Traditional management models assume a universal approach, but anyone working across diverse regions knows that what succeeds in one place can fail somewhere else.

Today, startups all the way to large enterprises interact with employees, partners and customers around the world and this is where a new approach to leadership training comes in.

What if some people don't speak up on conference calls? What if they don't respond at all? What if they tell you a wrong answer because that's what they think you want to hear? What if they are so direct and assertive that teammates quit? What if clients from different regions find your customer support rude?

Leadership topics below are prime examples of how an approach in one market can fall flat in others:

  • Handling conflict
  • Building trust within remote teams
  • Managing up / Getting promoted
  • Giving feedback
  • Selling

Organizations are looking for help. A 2021 survey from "The State of Global Talent Management" by Deloitte found that 86% of respondents believe that cultural awareness is a critical skill for global leaders and 70% of said that they are investing in this kind training for their employees.

The question, is cross-cultural training a standalone subject or should it be integrated into conventional leadership programs?

While many programs now include cross-cultural modules to address diverse working styles, is a single lesson sufficient to prepare future leaders for global roles, or should a different approach be considered?

Given today's global working environment, I believe the cross-cultural factors should flow throughout a next generation leadership program.

That is why I launched an online leadership development course for people early-to-middle level of their career, that emphasizes this global approach. Using many of the most effective leadership models and frameworks, the course not only explains these core principles but puts them through a cross-cultural lens, often challenging some of the core assumptions that drive these models.

The key takeaway for this program is to help future leaders know how and when to adapt. Here are a few of the modules that can serve as examples:

  • Communicating and Working Across Cultures - Using cross-cultural data sets to re-frame how we approach leadership topics.
  • Behavioral Models That Strengthen Communication and enhance self-awareness - Personality and behavioral frameworks provide a strong counterbalance to limitations of cross-cultural data.
  • Developing Executive Presence - What traits make a good leader? Do they need to be outgoing and make fast decisions or more reserved and stoic? Depends on where you come from.
  • Coaching - Many coaching frameworks assume a low level of power distance between the coach and coachee and frameworks only work based off of this dynamic. This does not always work. How can we adjust solid methodologies and make them work globally?
  • Negotiating Skills - Large variations exist here across the word. Conflicting negotiating styles frequently result in failed or less effective outcomes.
  • Storytelling - While stories get told in numerous ways, the power of storytelling is truly global. This one is perhaps the most naturally global topic of them all.

This isn't to say that we need to get bogged down by all the nuances of different working styles. Overly focusing on differences can lead to negative outcomes, but when building leadership skills culture matters and adapting to cross-cultural situations is a must.

My goal is to create a course that is realistic, impactful, fast-paced and enjoyable. Working globally is not easy but a big part of it is to have the foundations to confidently lean into these challenges and have fun along the way.

If you want more info on the program, click here.

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