WHAT DO FUTURE LEADERS NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL WORLD-WIDE?
“As firms reach across borders, global leadership capacity is surfacing more and more often as a binding constraint. According to one survey of senior executives, 76 percent believe their organizations need to develop global leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so effectively.”
- Developing Global Leaders, ©2012, McKinsey & Company
More than any other generation of leaders, Millennials will find themselves in global leadership roles. Leading global teams and organizations requires a cultural sensitivity and business acumen that doesn’t just happen automatically. And yet, according to the study cited above, only seven percent of executives surveyed think their leaders are developing global leadership capabilities. So based on what we know about our Millennials, how prepared are they to go global?
We know from the seminal 2010 Pew Research Center publication, Millennials – A Portrait of Generation Next that Millennials see themselves as open to global experiences. They are highly collaborative and comfortable in teams. Millennials see themselves as more liberal and tolerant than older generations, and the older generations agree. Those are all traits that might make Millennial leaders strong candidates for global assignments.
Millennials are 35 and younger, and most have not yet started families. A career with frequent travel to other countries, often with extended stays, is a great opportunity for a young executive seeking to grow their skills, capabilities, and resume with global experience.
Now for the challenges: As the baby boomers continue to leave the workforce, our Millennials are getting called upon to lead before their time. They lack experience, sometimes struggle with interpersonal communication and crave frequent feedback that they may not get in a global role.
But the biggest challenge younger leaders face is that of self-awareness. These folks haven’t had many opportunities to see the impact of their decisions and behavior on others and the business and reflect upon ways to strengthen weak areas and maximize strengths. While that’s difficult in a domestic situation, it could be exponentially more challenging when in a global leadership role.
So what does it take to make a great global leader? Pankaj Ghemawat, the author of the McKinsey Quarterly article, encapsulated an extensive literature review into this list of competencies, characteristics and behaviors.
Look at the lists above and think about your leaders who are 35 and younger. You may agree with me that Millennials as a generation are fairly well-equipped in terms of the mental characteristics and behavioral competencies.
Look at what’s on the top of the list of Core Competencies: self-awareness. That’s not news, since we already know self-awareness is critical for any leader – foreign or domestic.
So, the answer for building global leadership capabilities in our Millennials is actually very close to home. While it’s important to build cultural competence when gearing up for a global assignment, it’s equally important for leaders to build self-awareness. It’s key to leadership success, whether here at home or at abroad.
We can help with that. Our solutions are designed to bring about teachable moments that help leaders build self-awareness and identify things they want to do differently. Whether it’s about setting and executing strategy, driving for results, or leading a productive, engaged team, our business simulations let leaders practice, make mistakes, develop best practices and grow their leadership capabilities.
McKinsey Article (for sure)