Monday, November 11, 2013

Which competency do the best global leaders share?

In a study of the most effective global leaders, influence ranked as most important. Of twenty-one competencies, four ranked as important regardless of culture and World region:

     1) Creativity
     2) Resource allocation
     3) Risk taking and the most important
     4) Influence.

Influence becomes the single most important differentiator of success once a leader’s responsibilities shift from being leader of a single country (product line, project team, function, executive function, etc.) to leader of multiple countries.  Of course, differences exist between countries.  Influence is most important in Brazil followed by China, South Africa, Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and then India.  

The most likely explanation for the importance of influence may stem from the fact that global leaders see a 260% increase in the number of stakeholders they must deal with when they transition from leader of a single country to multiple countries.  

Compared to their less successful counterparts, the most successful global leaders spend more time with clients (especially potential clients), global peers, and government and community leaders. Interestingly, they spend less time with their employees. However, the time they do spend with their employees is strategically focused on development.

Ironically, of the twenty one competencies examined, influence is the one for which multi-country leaders are least effective with only one in four being viewed as highly effective.  So influence is the competency that matters most for global leaders while it is the one in which they are least competent.  This should be a big wakeup call for planners, designers and deliverers of leadership development for global leaders and for ‘would be’ global leaders.  

Where to start:  Assess personal influence preferences and cultural influence differences and understand the implications for leadership effectiveness.  

Source: Corporate Leadership Council Human Resources 2011 Survey

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For more information on how to assess personal influence preferences, you can read about DLI's Influence Style Indicator on our website at or use our Contact Page.  

About the author: Chris Musselwhite, EdD is president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc.

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