The Best Global Leaders are Local Leaders.
A few years ago, Thomas Friedman eloquently said that "the world is flat." Technology and globalization have made commerce a far more level playing field than it was many decades ago. The internet has unlocked opportunities, giving businesses access to previously unreachable customers. There's a sense of equal opportunity in markets, with geographical and historical knowledge becoming more and more irrelevant. From business schools to boardrooms, building global leaders has been identified as a crucial factor for organizational growth. That makes sense when competition can come from anywhere. Being globally-focused is now a prerequisite for survival. Yet, despite increasing interdependence across the globe, the world is not necessarily flat. Customers have unique tastes and values, and local knowledge can be a distinct competitive advantage. Anyone who depends on deploying a one-solution-fits-all strategy across cultures and nations will lose. Being a global leader today goes beyond having a "global strategy." Fragmentation exists, and firms need "interface leaders" — or local leaders — to execute strategies. Local communities appreciate great global brands, but they also treasure the relationships they have with their local brands. For any global brand to displace those local brands, they have to understand the customers and offer better value, in the local context. Why? When customers are making purchasing decisions, they're simply looking for value. What you're doing in your corporate headquarters is of no concern to them. Future global leaders must be those who can develop local leaders with the ability to execute company-wide plans, across nations and regions, at the local level. Commerce is still communal in nature, regardless of the sophistication of the product or service. Intangibles like local fashion, language, and cultural norms must not be taken for granted at the physical interface where brands connect...
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