Global Leadership Qualities – Nu Leadership Series

“ Every failure is a blessing in disguise, providing it teaches some needed lesson one could not have learned without it. Most so-called Failures are only temporary defeats.”
Napoleon Hill

The world has changed. Nations are no longer limited or isolated. Technology has brought us closer. No one can hide or feel safe with terrorism on the rise. Likewise, contemporary leaders cannot hide from the economic consequences of a global market. Globalization has brought the world together. Jreisat, author of Governance in a Globalizing World, argues that globalization provides a deepening of intercontinental relationships and “worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual.” Peter and Donnelly, authors of Designing the Global Corporation, maintain that there are several factors, including structure and culture, that impede or facilitate a company globally. Furthermore, noted author Galbraith further maintains that companies must understand their competitors and determine whether they can transfer to their competitive advantage in an international environment.

Given this pressure, are global leaders any different from domestic leaders? This is the debate. It is my claim that globe leaders are indeed different due to the complexity of globalization. First, globalization is more than a big word for doing domestic work internationally. Doing work globally requires two dimensions of complexity: business and culture. Organizational expert Lamy maintains that global customers require businesses to humanize globalization. Some critics would argue that globalization gives individuals a sense of powerlessness and places political constraints on lesser developed countries.

Second, international business requires an additional skill mix. McCall and Hollenbeck, authors of Developing Global Executives, argue that a global leader must be flexible, sensitive to cultural differences, able to handle complexity, and have a willingness to think globally. Black, Morrison, and Gregersen, authors of Global Explorers, declare that globalization challenges provincial leadership theories. However, there is no one kind of global leader. To aid in this development, Lamy suggests the following are necessary to effectively approach the global community: (a) common values, (b) champions with legitimacy to raise public interest in the debate, and (c) multilateral mechanisms of governance that are truly effective.

Finally, global leaders must be sensitive to the international market. Black, Morrison, and Gregersen argue that today’s leaders must learn to excel in a multicultural world; therefore, a new type of leadership must exist. Global leaders who are sensitive to this will act differently. Furthermore, Black, Morrison, and Gregersen suggest that global leaders must have a core set of global characteristics, which are inquisitiveness, perspective, character, and savvy. They also cite that learning for global leaders is the same regardless of the country of origin or whether the development is for global or domestic work. Consequently, there is not a silver bullet for developing effective global leaders.


Black, J., Morrison, A., & Gregersen, H. (2002). Global Explorers. New York: Routledge.

Galbraith, J. (1997). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hughes, K. (2006). Remarks to American Council on Education: A Strategic view of Study Abroad. Leadership Network for International Education, Washington, DC.

Jreisat, J. (2004). Governance in a Globalizing World. International Journal of Public Administration. 27(13, 14). pp. 1003-1029.

Lamy, P. (2006). Human Globalization. International Trade Forum. Issue 1. pp. 5, 6.

McCall, M. & Hollenbeck, G. (2002). Developing Global Executives. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Peter, J. & Donnelly, J. (2003). A Preface to Marketing Management. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rosen, R., Digh, P., Singer, M., and Phillips, C. (2000). Global Literacies. New York: Simon & Schuster.

© 2008 by Daryl D. Green