Global Leadership Development Initiatives Show Little Progress

Companies aren’t taking charge in developing global management and leadership programs, despite the increasingly globalized economy, according to a recent survey.

Just 44 percent of organizations said they have incorporated global leadership practices in their development programs in 2014, according to a survey by the American Management Association and the Institute for Corporate Productivity, or i4cp. A little more than half — 54 percent — of larger employers said they include a global focus in their leadership development initiatives, according to the survey.

Though the number is far from ideal, the percentage of firms actively implementing global initiatives in their leadership development programs represents a big improvement from 2010, when the same survey showed 31 percent of firms said they incorporated global programs in leadership development.

The study, “Global Leadership Development: Knowledge Immersion Now,” surveyed more than 1,000 senior businesses and HR executives from 57 countries.

“Many companies don’t know what a cultural, global mindset is,” said Kevin Oakes, i4cp’s CEO. “I believe they have the mindset of a kingdom where minions go to conquer other countries and report back to headquarters.”

Worse yet, many employers aren’t confident in their leadership development programs, according to the survey.

Just 19 percent of organizations said in the survey they considered their leadership programs to “work well,” a major drop from 2010, when 42 percent of companies surveyed felt their programs were effective. About 20 percent of large employers surveyed this year said their leadership programs were effective. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said leadership development is important.

Experts say a big reason companies may struggle in this area is because many haven’t identified the right mix of global competencies for their leaders.

“A lot of companies are still struggling at developing competencies,” said Jay Jamrog, senior vice president of research at ic4p. “They’ll interview gurus and look at other companies and copy their behavior. That doesn’t really get you to what the company needs; it’s not evidence-based.”

Among the competencies that differentiate a global leader, according to the study, is knowledge of local markets, specifically language skills. While English is predominantly used at the executive level, the study found that being conversational in the local language is still beneficial.

Luke Siuty is an editorial intern at Talent Management magazine. He can be reached at