Globalization- the Leadership Challenge

Topics: Globalization, Leadership, Culture Pages: 7 (2511 words) Published: December 12, 2007
Globalization is not only inevitable, but also a blessing in disguise. It is something like, as Ronald Steel (1999) very aptly puts, "You try to shut the door and it [the global economy] comes in through the window. You try to shut the window and it comes in on the cable. You cut the cable, it comes in on the internet. And it's not only in the room with you. You eat it. It gets inside you."

Globalization refers to a process of increasing economic integration and growing economic interdependence between countries in the world economy. In an article titled "The globalization of markets", Levitt(1983) had predicted a new commercial reality- the emergence of markets on a previously unimagined scale of magnitude. He puts forward a theory of globalization where he predicted that one of the effects of globalization would be the emergence of firms straddling the globe and providing standard products. Thus being global is not just about where you do business but how you do business.

Unlike the bounded world, globalized world needs different sets of leadership skills because the challenges of the globalized world are entirely different. The very word global intrinsically also connotes diversity. And diversity itself is a big challenge. Therefore in a globalized world, we need leaders who have worked in more than one market. Working in markets of different countries helps them to broaden their minds and they start seeing the world as their oyster that helps them to develop an enveloping culture(Sinha and Mohanty,2004). An enveloping culture encourages drive, initiative and skills necessary to operate effectively in diverse communities. However honing these skills is not an easy task, and therefore is a challenge in itself. A survey(1997) of the US Fortune 500 firms has revealed that 85% of the firms do not think they have an adequate number of global leaders. 67% of the firms think that their existing leaders need additional skills and knowledge before they meet or exceed needed capacities. Many senior executives today feel that financial resources are not the problem. The firms have 3

enough money, products and position to be dominant global players. They just lack enough people with the needed global leadership capabilities. Another formidable task facing the global firm in the 21st century has perhaps less to do with how to structure a company or train global managers than with getting a diverse workforce to pull in the same direction. Jack Welch(2001) had said in his speech to GE employees, "The Jack Welch(2001) of the future cannot be me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of the general electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires." This clearly implies the growing importance of acquiring a global enveloping mindset and thus the issue of diversity management i.e. managing people with differences in gender, ethnicity, race, education, experience, opinions, beliefs, personalities, value systems, functions, thought processes, talents, socio-economic status, heritage, perspectives, skills etc. has received a great attention. Ensuring equal opportunity and equal weight for every employee is another challenge that the global leaders operating in a culturally diverse global environment will be facing. For such a task, globalization has to herald a new breed of managers who would be dealing with diversity through humility. Meaning, leader-managers must humbly accept that their own perspectives need to be broadened by others. Humility is a vital quality in a leader. If any company has to continue and prosper, it has to be externally oriented. Therefore, it must have the kind of humility that makes it listen to the customers and seek ideas from outside. Specially, in today's world of competition and the convergence of mobility, we need to perceive changes as they occur and react to it faster than the challenges of the...
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