Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Global Leadership Competencies in a Changing World

Everyone always talks about our changing work environment, but how is it changing? And what new leadership competencies are needed to manage the new workplace? We answer the first question by comparing the 20th century management environment to the 21st century.

- Manufacturing industries dominated the 20th century. The 21st century will see service industries reign supreme.

- Domestic markets dominated in the 20th century. Foreign markets and cultures will lead the way through the 21st century.

- There used to be ONE right organizational structure. The 21st century requires an agile structure that adapts to cross-functional projects.

- Management’s authority flowed from hierarchies in the past. Today, collaborative leadership works within virtual teams, group projects, and networked organizations.

- Bricks and mortar were places to commute to in the last century. Virtual offices are now places to communicate through.

- Well defined industry boundaries dominated the past. The porous borders of today invite competitors from every direction.

- Clear operating procedures and jobs were the way it was. Flexible operating procedures and fluid jobs are the way it is.

- Communication was slow and unreliable. Communication is now fast and unrelenting.

- We used to judge workers by what they knew. The rapid pace of change and information overload requires that we judge knowledge workers on how fast they learn.

- Information once flowed from the top. Information must now flow to the top.

- We used to think that there was ONE right way to manage people. The knowledge worker of the 21st century requires new leadership and management competencies.

Joyce Heames and Michael Harvey reviewed the specific competencies needed for a 21st-century global leader to succeed in these tumultuous times. (1) They cited the work by McCall and Holland, who interviewed 100 global executives. They reported that global leaders need the following competencies:

1. Open minded and flexible.

2. Value added technical and business skills.

3. Cultural interest and sensitivity.

4. Resilient, resourceful, optimistic, and energetic.

5. Able to deal with complexity.

6. Stable personal life.

7. Possess and engender honesty and integrity.

Another approach to defining the competencies required by global leaders was taken by Professor Felix Brodbeck and his colleagues involved in the GLOBE study. (2) Professor Brodbeck surveyed 6,052 mid-managers, who rated 112 questionnaire items containing descriptions of leadership traits and behaviors. They reported that global leaders need the following competencies:

1. Visionary - foresight, anticipatory, prepared, intellectually stimulating, future oriented, plans ahead.

2. Inspirational - enthusiastic, positive, encouraging, morale booster, motive arouser, confidence builder, dynamic, motivational.

3. Performance-oriented - improvement, excellence and performance oriented.

4. Decisiveness - willful, logical, intuitive.

5. Integrity - honest, sincere, just, trustworthy.

6. Team integrator - clear, subdued, informed, communicative, coordinator, team builder.

As you can see, there is considerable overlap between these two research papers. More importantly, I think it is apparent that what is needed is a dynamic leadership model that embraces the majority of these competencies. The eXpansive Leadership Model (XLM) seen below does just that. It is my synthesis of a large number of studies investigating effective leadership in the US and internationally.


The XLM teaches global leaders that they must think about what tasks they do in both a visionary (i.e., big picture) and rational (i.e. detail oriented) manner. In addition, they must also think about who performs the tasks in an empowering (i.e., take care of people) and commanding (i.e., take charge) manner. The XLM predicts that you will achieve eXtraordinary results as you use eXpansive thinking to balance all four of these interdependent styles. There is no one best leadership style to meet the demands of today's global, challenging 21st century. If you are to rise to the challenge, you need to develop and apply all four.

Keep on eXpanding,


1. Joyce Heames and Michael Harvey: The Evolution of the Concept of the Executive from the 20th Century Manager to the 21st-Century Global Leader. 'Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies': 12/22/06.

2. Cultural Variation of Leadership Prototypes Across 22 European Countries (GLOBE). ‘Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology’: 3/1/2000.

1 comment:

Cindy Dy said...

amazing and nice looking site please love it and make more effective… keep it up.