Leadership and Thriving in a Global Culture

I began to write about the topic of the necessity for companies to possess a global orientation in this day and age. I came across one of our course packet readings in Winter ’13 quarter’s Marketing Management class, where we discussed what global leadership meant. We learned that companies who are truly transforming into global leaders don’t just open offices in other parts of the world, but that they also suscribe to a change in human capital strategy when it comes to leadership.

Starwood’s CEO Frits van Paasschen talks about this change in, “Now, there are plenty of us, including myself, who spend significant time in the U.S., but fundamentally there’s a difference between people who are one nationality versus having a team of people who represent different parts of the world.”

A leadership group made up of people from only one region does not a global company make. To really embrace global change, it is crucial for companies to acknowledge the importance of a leadership team that is made up of people from various parts of the world. It is not easy, especially when the company has historically had a leadership team that is promoted from within and comprise of those who have climbed up the ranks whom promote the culture of its home country.

Again, it is not easy. The difficulty is not in assigning leaders who have different backgrounds to the leadership team; that is easy, internal politics aside. What is difficult is in the actual implementation of ideas, and voting for initiatives. People will have different ways of doing things, all of whom think what they’re doing is right because they’ve had success with their methods in the past. People will have different opinions, all of whom are influenced by their personal opinions as well as the type of varied environments they’ve experienced in the past. These are the issues that the leadership team has to contend with on a regular basis.

Now, just because it is hard does not mean it shouldn’t be done. It is hard because it requires a shift in thinking, a kind of jumpstarting something that is in a state of inertia. It seems painful and less efficient in the beginning, but leaders must think of this as a type of investment. An investment to learn, to grow. These are the growing pains that companies must endure to be able to call themselves a true global enterprise.

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