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3 Global Leadership Challenges

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

The global challenges of management within organizations can be much more difficult within the context of their global roles. When considering the global challenges of managing abroad, some of the consistent themes included:

1. Managing a Patchwork of People. To lead effectively within a global context, managers need to understand and influence a complex patchwork of people. Each customer, employee, and vendor is uniquely characterized by a host of attributes and past experiences, including ethnicity, language, religion, and social norms. All of these stakeholders weave together into a vibrant patchwork of people with a number of unique attributes and experiences that must be understood and appreciated.

2. Distributed Team Members. Teams in global organizations are often comprised of people located in different geographic areas and in various time zones. The challenges to global leaders are three-fold:

Keeping communication channels open and clear. This is an especially huge challenge with virtual teams where face-to-face communication is limited. Maintaining a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of team members. Remote team members often struggle to collaborate over time because of a lack of clarity about who is responsible for what. To be successful, there has to be a genuine sensitivity to team members’ varying schedules, opinions, and personal interests. Providing team members the right levels of leadership support and guidance. It is hard for global leaders to exercise the complete range of leadership behaviors necessary to organize and influence their people over time. For example, it is hard for global leaders to be directive or to lend a hand to a direct report when direct reports are not in the same office or time zone posing a distributed global challenge.

3. Change Is Constant If it isn’t hard enough for global leaders to try to manage this patchwork of people, the global marketplace itself is in a constant state of change. Global leaders must have a firm grasp on the business and its products, while having the business acumen necessary to perform in a game with rules that are constantly changing while facing global challenges.

Considering all of these global challenges and the need for leaders to continuously adapt and evolve, we must focus on the necessary skills and attributes for global leaders to be successful while avoiding these international obstacles within their management roles.


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