The concept of global leadership is rapidly gaining popularity amongst academic research and multinational organisation, and we’re beginning to see the term popping up in the blog spheres as well.
As the race to continuously improve technologies continues, the expansion into a single interconnected global marketplace continues.
Workforces are continuing to become ever more culturally diverse as organisations turn to outsourcing and offshoring to cut costs, and yet we continue to debate what exactly it is that makes a global leader affective in multicultural and expatriate assignments.
Are there really culturally universal leadership traits?
A successful global leader can confidently and genuinely inspire others to follow their vision for collective future, regardless of cultural factors. They’re charismatic, but it’s more than just being charismatic.
When you look at personality characteristics the really good leaders are true extroverts, high in conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness, and low in neurotic tendencies.
But even more importantly, they are authentic in their presentation, fair in their decisions, and genuinely mindful of and empathetic to their employees’ perspective.
These leaders care about their employees on a work performance level, but also on a personal level. They go the extra mile for their employees, and their workers appreciate it and develop an unparalleled sense of organisational trust.
So we know that there are some universal traits that help an individual to become an effective leader in a given setting. That’s great.
But global leaders excel in adapting to the culturally diverse perspectives of expatriate assignments, and successfully balance the needs of multicultural workplaces.
How do these leaders excel at this next level?
Are there also culturally universal global leadership traits?
A successful global leader is an individual who us able to effectively lead in new multicultural environments and expatriate assignments.
These leaders are also universally charismatic and display similar Big 5 personality profiles, but they also take this genuine leadership approach a step further.
Successful global and expatriate leaders from around the world all display high levels of cultural intelligence and adaptability.
So a successful global or expatriate leader not only genuinely cares about the well-being of their employees and expresses this in their respectful and just leadership, they ensure that they adjust their own behaviors to respect the bounds of the norms and values of the culture they are leading.
These leaders take the time to research and learn about the cultures they will lead before beginning an assignment, and critically analyse their own methods and the ways that the societal and organisational culture mesh as they adapt their leadership methods to maximise their effectiveness.
In sum, it doesn’t seem to particularly matter whether the leaders in an organisation are from right down the block or half way around the world, and it doesn’t matter how culturally diverse the staff is.
No matter where you go or what type of organisation you work in, employees do their best work and stay with their organisation the longest when their leaders genuinely care about their well-being, are transparent in communicating their values and message, are ethical in their decision making, and adaptable in efforts to meet the needs of their followers. The single-most universal leadership trait is respect.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 22 May, 2015
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