From exported practices towards global leadership cultures
This issue of Profile is communicating it mildly: the balance of powers is changing. Asia is quite rightfully claiming the leadership of the global economy. This poses a paramount challenge to leadership development and executive education.
The legacy of leadership development is inherently Western or, to be more specific, Anglo-American. The best practices of Western management have been exported to the South and the East. This mission has served its purpose well.
In a world where the economy is being driven from Asia, imported leadership ideals are not enough. There is less and less space for scholarly arrogance, justified by the glorious history. Personally, I learned one of my most valuable lessons, when, during a consulting project in Southern India, I realized that the company seeking my advice had way more advanced HR processes than the Nordic best practices I was eager to deploy.
Today, more and more companies seek tangible solutions for building a truly global leadership culture, where national cultures do not hinder development or compromise agility. In order to reach the league of truly global players, many organizations need to let go of many practices and guidelines hardwired by the culture of the headquarters and its birthplace.
Nevertheless, the next generation of organizations is already here. The article about Angry Birds is a good illustration of a business model that is born global. The supply chain, marketing and customer experience are not confined to one single county, country or region. The concept is targeted to the multi-cultural global market straight from the beginning.
Most growing organizations do not have this kind of advantage. They must reinvent themselves multiple times and undergo genetic transformations. This may be a painful process, and the associated discontinuities are always risks. I believe that by fostering shared leadership cultures and practices companies are able to mitigate these challenges in the best possible manner.
And on a lighter note, not everyone has to become global. There will always be a market for local players with great heritage and compelling brand stories. They are also tomorrow’s winners. Only those who are stuck in the middle – not aspiring to become global players nor embracing their local origins – will have increasingly hard times.
Fear explained: Everybody brings their fears to the airport. You have to see your fears in order to conquer them.