Attributes and Competencies of the Global Leader
Today we are living in a globalized world, where organizations are multicultural and diverse, people are sharing a global language (English) and a global medium of communications (Internet), technology is booming, small connected world and changes are faster than ever. To be an effective leader of emerging organizations in the global world one will need to see the world and the workforce with a global mindset (Marquardt & Berger 2000).To cope with the changes in a globalized business world, leaders will need to develop different attributes and competencies, such as: visionary, effective communication, innovation, motivational, creative, spirituality and concern of ethics, charismatic and risk taking. However, some of these skills are not essential for a leader to succeed, for example not all successful leaders are charismatic or creative. On the other hand, there are some leadership competencies like effective communication, visionary, honesty/integrity, motivational/inspirational are essential for a real leader.In my opinion, if these skills aren’t available in a leader, then he/she is not practicing the leadership effectively and will not be distinguished from the crowd.
In this paper I will examine the four attributes most needed by men and women to lead in the new world, and will highlight how these attributes are going to evolve over time. Visionary leaders Leaders start to envision when they are unhappy with the present situation, and want to change the future. Leadership starts with having a vision, then developing a plan to achieve it through the followers (Giuliani 2002).Real leaders envision an exciting highly attractive future for their organizations, inspire and share the vision, enlist others in a common vision, keep visioning as ongoing process. According to Kouzes & Posner the visionary leaders as described in The Leadership Challenge book “compared to all other the other leadership qualities constituents expect, this is the one that most distinguishes leaders from other credible people” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007) Leaders should believe in their vision, and have the will to translate it to reality and communicate it to the followers.To be a successful leader it’s not enough only to build the company’s vision, but also to inspire workers, customers, colleagues and stakeholders about the vision (Marquardt & Berger 2000). Once the followers clearly understand the vision they will work towards that direction, and will set smaller visions, missions, and goals to achieve the organizational vision.
In addition, a real leader must envision together with the followers the type of the future they desire. Having a shared vision of the future helps the individuals of any organization to take decisions wisely.They can build their daily and strategic decisions based on having outcomes that will align with the shared vision. In addition, visionary leaders with the ability to forecast the future can take the company forward and help in gaining a competitive advantage. When John Kennedy set a goal of putting a man on the moon by 1970 or Bill Gates aimed to put a computer in each home, they were focusing attention on attainable future goals (Marquardt & Berger 2000). These leaders and many others had a unique ability to search new business opportunities and new markets.They believed in their sense and vision, although it was against the common sense that others believed on.
For example, in 1943, Thomas Watson, the CEO of IBM said “I think there is a world market of maybe five computers”. This tells us the difference between him and a visionary leader like Bill Gates, who envisioned the future of having a PC in each home, and gained a competitive advantage over the others well established IT companies! (Forster 2009). It’s very important in a globalized business world to have a clear direction, where to go and how to reach there.Leaders lacking the sense of direction and the envision of the future can’t make it to the end, since the followers expect their leaders to tell them what’s the company is likely to be in the next 6-12 months, or 3-5 years, or even 10 years from now. Good communication skills Effective communication skill is one of the most important leadership characteristics, or I would prefer to describe it as a must skill that all leaders should acquire and develop consistently.Good communication skills includes: active listening, building relationships through dialogue, engage subordinates, understanding of cultural difference, walk the talk and lead by example (Forster 2009). Good leaders should be good listeners.
Leaders should actively and deeply listen to followers and encourage a collaborative and open environment to promote the free exchange of ideas. Most successful leaders believed in utilizing as many minds as possible and engage the followers thought the organizational cycle. In addition, most of the communication breakdowns occur because of not listing effectively.Poor communication is repeatedly cited as major problem in many organizations, whether it is a top-down communication or among different departments and individuals. A leader should have the ability and skills to create an effective communication strategy. During the history many major crises were caused by miss-communication and it cost companies big losses, examples of communication breakdowns were the ones occurred in NASA associated with crash of Space Shuttle Challenger and the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter (Forster 2009).In both cases the problem was poor communication amongst the different individuals working on the projects.
If the projects’ leader/leaders were effective communicator he/she would actively listen to the subordinates regarding not launching the rocket during cold weather in the first case, and in the second case would ensure a better communication among the two groups of engineers who were working using two different metric measurements. At the end good communication skills would have saved NASA from the big losses. Leaders in a globalized business world should have a good understanding of cross-cultural communication.In today’s world even if the company is operating nationally, the leader will be facing people from different cultures, and a communication attitude that is acceptable in a company in the Middle East can be seen offensive in other cultures. Moreover, when a leader understand the differences across the cultures, it will be easier to communicate in a personal way with different individual. It will be much easier to establish relationships and appeal to followers’ hearts and minds. Story telling is one of the useful techniques that can enhance leaders communicate style.
Stories can help leaders to vividly illustrate what they are trying to communicate in an interesting way. Stories that communicate and connect to on an emotional level help communicate deeper than words and leave much stronger impression on the listener than using a simple stating of the facts or orders. There is no single work without communication being part of it; if the leader is a visionary, motivational, honest, experienced and competent but fails to effectively communicate and express all this to his/her followers, then there is no point of him/her being a leader!A leader with good communication skills can easily communicate the vision and get the message across, build strong relationships, get employees aligned behind the organization’s goals. Indeed, many other organizational competencies such as change, innovation and learning are dependable on having effective communication skills and system in place (Forster 2009). Basically, communication is the core of the different functions in any organization.For example, let’s assume we have an X Company where we ask all employees -from the CEO to the security guard- not to communicate (internally and externally) in any of the forms (verbal, non-verbal and written) for one working-day! We all know that the X Company will fail to function and perform. Motivational and inspirational To be a motivational leader at first you should be a self-motivated.
A motivational and inspirational leader is the one who have the ability to keep the followers motivated in the work they do and inspired about turning the vision into reality, and treat their followers as intelligent, creative nd most importantly not to de-motivate them. There are many different ways that a leader can motivate the followers even through financial motivational tools (money- promotion- bonuses), or emotional motivations (giving them more responsibilities- authorities- freedom- nice working environment), rewarding and appreciation. Or as simple as saying “Thanks” can be a powerful motivator. People want to be inspired, and expect their leaders to be enthusiastic, energetic, and optimistic about the future. If leader doesn’t show inspiration and passion for the company, why follower should!If the leader is self-motivated and care about his/her employees motivations; he/she will have the best performance out of the employees, they will enjoy the work and will be more committed. It’s not enough for a leader to have a dream; he/she should communicate the dream in a way that will inspire the followers to buy in. Treating the followers as intelligent and creative raises their confidence and motivational level.
When followers feel that they have a decision over the organization and that their ideas are considered by the leader, this makes them feel they are the leader.According to Jack Welch, CEO General Electric, there are ten roles for inspirational leaders: 1) provide an inspiring vision and strategic alignment, launch a crusade. 2) Help people connect their personal goals to business goals. 3) Make relentless innovation a religion. 4) Encourage entrepreneurial creativity and experimentation. 5) Involve everyone, empower and trust employees. 6) Coach and train your people to greatness.
7) Build teams and promote teamwork, leverage diversity 8) Motivate, inspire and energize people, recognize achievements. 9) Encourage risk taking. 10) Make business fun.These ten simple roles can assure a leader to be motivational and inspirational (Welch 2005) A great example of inspiration is when Steve Jobs stole the CEO from Pepsi by asking him, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world? ” Being inspiring means showing followers the big picture and helping them see beyond a narrow focus and understand how their part fits into the big picture (Bennis ; Nanus 2007) When giving example of motivational leaders and companies, Google have to be highlighted. There are many motivational practices being carried in Google that makes it an employer of choice.Google believes that appreciation is the best motivational tool, Google have created a fun and inspiring workplace by providing onsite doctor and dentist, massage and yoga and professional development. Google offers a variety of benefits for employees including medical insurances, free travel options, company’s share and more (Forster 2009).
To be a successful leader in a globalized world it’s not enough to have motivational skills, but also the leaders should differentiate between how people from different generations, gender, cultures react differently towards motivational tactics.For example, what motivates me as a Generation Y might not work with baby-boomers and things that motivate me now cannot be motivational anymore in future! Once the leader understands the motivational differences he/she will obtain different styles to make all the followers motivated by having a variety of motivational tactics to select from. Sometimes motivational techniques could be miss-used by leaders. For example, a leader will promise a subordinate with promotion if he/she performs accordingly. However, the employee will do his/her best and achieve the targeted goal assuming he/she will be promoted.They make fake promises only to enhance the employees’ motivation and performance level for short-term, however, neglecting the dissatisfaction that could accrue in long-term by such practices. Integrity and honesty “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
” (Samuel Johnson 1709-84) Integrity is one of the most personality traits that followers seek in their leaders. There are three main factors of what constitutes integrity in a leader: trust, honesty, empathy.In the surveys conducted by Kouzes & Posner for the Leadership Challenge book, honesty has been ranked higher than any other competencies- gaining a percentage of 89 % in 2007. (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). People want to follow an honest leader! Followers will willingly follow a leader who makes them feel trusted and in safe hands. It’s a human nature, were we tend to believe in the words and vision that come through a trusted person and we walk upon it. The leaders should demonstrate honesty with themselves, followers, customers, stakeholders and partners.
Once a leader is perceived as an honest person, it will be reflected on the followers’ honesty as well (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). An honest leader when runs his/her organization ethically; in return the followers carry out practices with honesty and integrity, at the end this means that the customers are being treated honestly. In addition, honest leaders have more power over their followers than a dishonest. For example, if the followers believe and know that their leader has been honest all the way- in good and bad times: Firstly they will be willingly following him/her.Secondly, they will buy in his vision and will work towards achieving it with honesty too. Lastly, they will trust and support his/her decisions and will do their best to achieve the goals. Leaders should show honesty, even in situations if he/she is admitting mistakes as this will increase the leadership influence.
True leaders should understand how followers feel about a given situation and should demonstrate empathy by their actions. True leaders consider the entire organization when taking decisions, rather than looking for their own benefits.Empathy and truly understanding others, is extremely an important part of gaining trust. Good example, of an honest leader is Lee Lacocca, he was honest with his employees when Chrysler was near-bankruptcy. He didn’t cheat on his employees by paying himself or selling his shares, rather he announced that he will pay himself a symbolic salary of only $1 for twelve months instead of $ 360 000. This ethical behavior had great influence on his followers and things were changed to better and taking the company to profitability (Iacocca, 1988: 242- as cited in the book by Forster 2009).On the other hand, if the leader is dishonest and yet the subordinates follow him willingly that means even these individuals are themselves dishonest or will lose the self-respect and will be perceived as dishonest by others surrounding them.
Dishonest and unethical leaders throughout the history were the reason behind the fails of many organizations. Enron Corporation is one example of how leaders of a multi-billion dollar corporation, by unethical business practices, ruined the lives of thousands. In 2001, Enron as the fifth largest company on the Fortune 500. However, Enron’s unethical accounting practices have led the company into a bankruptcy (Forster 2009). This bankruptcy has caused many problems among many individuals. Numerous employees lost their jobs and retirement funds, while top executives were selling their stocks, knowing that the company was going to fall, employees and shareholders were the ones who would take the biggest hit. If the officers of Enron had any integrity they would’ve been empathetic to the livelihood of others.
Instead of lining their own pocket, they would’ve done what’s right if they had integrity. Future leadership skills and attributes- after ten years New times demand new kinds of leaders. Although 2300 years ago our ancestors have known and practiced the core attributes of effective leaders, as the Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that prospective leaders- having acquired self-awareness and wisdom- needed to develop additional three competencies: Ethos, Pathos, and logos. These are still relevant as it was, and will continue to be.However, the global world is requiring new leaders with new and unique combination of skills and personal attributes. All of the above mentioned skills (visionary, effective communicator, honest, motivational and inspirational) will remain important for leaders even after ten years from now; however, some of these skills might evolve by the speed of change, new technologies, smaller world, and the impact of advances made by women leaders globally and some of them might be seen more important in the future that it is now.Technology is affecting every aspect of our lives, including leadership skills.
In a world where information travels faster than ever, leaders should be proactive to technology changes rather than reactive. Rapid changes in the world today combined by overloading information make it difficult for leaders to know everything around them. Also it makes it difficult to communicate all the changes. Technology is making the leaders life easier and difficult at the same time. It’s easier to be connected to the world by simple clicks. However, the virtual world might affect the way ommunication skills were defined, leaders used to depend on body language, eye contact, movement and in some cases charisma to deliver their messages or convey ideas. With all the new communication devices (electronic emails and video conferencing), future leaders should be trained well in using the technology effectively and yet inspiring their followers.
Thus, future leader will need to appreciate and understand the power and purpose of technology. In addition, as everyday a new technology is invented, the future leaders should be a “techno-leader” in the way they lead and behave.For example, these days we interact with many successful leaders who don’t know how to use the latest technology properly (e. g face book, i-Pod, and communicators); however people manage to follow them. As the younger generation will be representing the majority of the future followers and leaders, developing skills in using advanced technology will be an essential leadership trait to succeed in a globalized organization. Because of technology corporations will become cluster organizations, where some will be working from home. This will require the leader to learn leading from distance!In short, a future leader should be technologist.
Globalization is affecting the leadership attributes, leaders will have to become more multicultural in their thinking and leading styles. As companies are becoming more diverse, a real leader will have to cope with this by learning more and more about cultural differences. Indeed, followers might seek to follow leaders with experience in more than on culture. A leader, who learns and understands different cultures, and there is a possibility of evolving a new trait that could so called “a mixed-cultural leader”.Future good leaders should consider the cultural differences even more than ever before and look at the diversity as an advantage not challenge or obstacle. Interestingly, a common global culture might be invented to serve the global business, where people will be sharing a common culture, as sharing a common language today! Motivational and inspirational will still remain important attribute the followers will be seeking in future leaders. We don’t know for defiantly if it will be seen less or more important.
But for sure, the future leaders will need to change the motivational tactics they are using today.What inspire followers today, might not work in future. For example, allowing employees to work at home, providing them with free international internet services in their cell phones might be seen more motivational than providing a fun working environment in future. As more successful women acquiring leadership positions globally and having the feminine impact on the workforce, the negative criticism about her as a leader is becoming less. In fact, recently women as leaders have brought up many effective leadership attributes. For example, collaboration with followers is an important leadership skill.Recent research has shown that women are more collaborative in work than men.
She works with different individuals in harmony with emphasis to achieve the desired goal collectively. In addition, we all know and realize that women have multi-task brains. We can do and think about different things at the same time. This is a natural gift that we as women have, however, men might need to develop and acquire this skill to be successful leaders, since things are changing very fast and leaders will have to set on different projects and goals to be achieved at the same time!Building strong relationship with followers is another skill that women are keen on. As mentioned earlier in this paper, leaders should build a trusted relationship with followers. Ken Blanchard, in his book Whale Done: The Power of Positive Relationships, encourage leaders to concentrate on good things their followers do, reinforcing good habits and using praise as motivators. This builds trust and strengthen relationships.
Women generally have an intuitive understanding of the value of relationship in all aspects of their lives.The ability to value and build trust and relationships is seen as critical trait in leaders for a business’s ability to grow and expand. We have noticed how the betrayal of the Enron leaders cause painful results as mentioned earlier. We have also seen a female warrior in Carly Fiorina, Hewlett Packard’s CEO, maximize internal and external relationships to win the recent battle at Hewlett Packard (Marquardt & Berger 2000). Conclusion In conclusion, leadership skills and competencies can be different from industry to industry and from a medium-sized to a multi-billion organization.However, there are some basic leadership traits that all leaders should acquire and develop in order to succeed in the globalized business world. Visionary and forward looking, effective communication, motivational and integrity are the most important qualities that people look for in their leaders and will more likely to follow.
While the core skills of leadership have remained and will remain the same over time, the leadership of the future will require a different emphasis on particular skills as a result of new technologies, smaller world, and the impact of advances made by women as leaders.By preparing for these changes ahead, the leaders can expect what the leadership will look like in future. word count 3,620Bibliography Bennis, W. and Nanus, B. (2007) Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, New York: HarperCollins Publisher. Forster,N. (2009).
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