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Certain Global Leadership Skills Harder to Master


Of the nine competencies critical for effective global leadership, two have proved hardest to master: change management and ability to influence and build coalitions. The findings come from a study of more than 1,000 companies on six continents by AMA Enterprise.

“Global leadership programs have been under way at many large organizations for well  over a decade,” said Sandi Edwards, Senior Vice President for AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of American Management Association that offers advisory services and tailored learning programs to organizations. “The competencies found key to global leadership have held consistent in repeated studies, but now we’ve learned that certain ones are proving more difficult to master. We looked first at whether a competency is part of a program and then what percentage of those in the program were able to develop a corresponding mastery.”

Mastery Gap for Global Leadership Competencies:
Change management    30.5%
Ability to influence and build coalitions    23.0%
Critical thinking/problem solving    19.5%
Leading cross-cultural teams    18.0%
Managerial ability    16.0%
Emotional intelligence    15.0%
Creativity    15.0%
Strategy execution    14.5%
Strategy development    13.0%

All the competencies examined in the study were configured with a focus on global leadership and were not merely adaptations of general development curricula, according to Edwards. “Each competency presents challenges, but some are twice as difficult as the others to become skillful at. Change management appears to be the hardest.”

Managing change is difficult for any leader in today’s volatile global marketplace, observed Edwards. “But add to that the complexity and ambiguity of managing across time zones and cultures, and leaders really struggle to manage change in their organizations. Also, a leader must be able to influence and build relationships to be successful in a global role. Again, this is where many lack mastery. Without outstanding communication and collaboration skills and a keen understanding of a wide variety of cross functional areas, global leaders will find it increasingly difficult to forge the global partnerships needed to effectively execute their corporate strategies.”

AMA Enterprise partnered with the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Training magazine to explore what high-performing global companies do differently. The study population consisted of primarily senior-level business, human resources and management professionals. These were surveyed via e-mail and 1,050 usable responses were collected. A majority of the companies represented in the survey are headquartered in North America.

With more than 85 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance and optimal business results.