In partnership with Aperian Global, Allan Bird and Mark Mendenhall hosted the “Finding Global Leadership Potential & Making It Strong” webinar.
You can watch it anytime below:
Below is an edited transcript of the presentation.
Introductions for Finding Global Leadership Potential & Making it Stronger
It’s a pleasure to be with all of you. I note among the attendees are several acquaintances and colleagues and we’re especially thankful to have you join us this morning and look forward to your contributions.
Mark and I, as we were putting this webinar together, thought that it would be useful to share our thoughts, but also to encourage lots of questions. Our experience has been that quite often the dialogue that ensues from responding to questions is one of the more rewarding aspects of these webinars.
Let me get started just by introducing myself and then I’ll ask Mark to introduce himself as well. My name is Allan Bird. I’m the President of
the Kozai Group. The Kozai Group was formed about 15 years ago, in 2001, at the request of several clients that we were working with who were in search of an effective tool to help them assess their global leadership talent and look at ways to do a better job in selection as well. They wanted to make sure that they selected people who they could drop into international assignments fairly quickly. I’m going to hand it over to Mark for his introduction.
Hi, I’m Mark Mendenhall and I work with Allan at the Kozai Group, a partner in that group. I’ve been here at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since 1989. I came here to take the J Burton Frierson Chair of Excellence in Business Leadership, an endowed chair co-funded really with the state and private donors and have been working in this area since the late 70’s. I got my PhD in ‘83 but was writing and publishing on intercultural effectiveness even before that. Really when I started out in 1983, I realized I taught one of the first international management courses in business schools in North America. There were a lot of international business courses but not so much fine-tuned, looking at global management and global leadership. So I’ve been doing research and consulting in this area since that time so hopefully won’t bore you with lot of war stories today.
Deficit of Global Leadership Talent and Global Leadership Capability
With that, let’s get into our conversation. What Mark and I decided to do is that I would spend five or ten minutes introducing part of the content we prepared then I’ll hand it off to Mark and he’ll follow up. We’d like to open this up to questions and to go into the direction that would be most useful for many of you.
Let me get started by talking about the need. As I’ve looked through the field every survey of CEOs of global corporations that I’ve checked in on in the last 25 years has identified the same key issue. Often it’s at the top of the list, and if not at the top of the list it’s among the top two or three items and that is that there is a deficit of global leadership talent and global leadership capability.
One of the more widely cited studies from 2010 by IBM found that not only was that a major concern, but that roughly half the CEOs felt that they were going to continue to experience that deficit for at least five years into the future. That was 2010, so we’re into the future five years and more recent surveys indicate that that continues to be an issue.
One of the studies by Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that roughly eighty percent of CEOs felt that they had lost global business because of an inability to staff international positions with global leadership talent. It was a personnel shortage that was slowing the company down, it wasn’t that the company didn’t have the other resources to keep pace with the potential for growth.
Identifying and Developing Global Leadership Talent
So with that in mind it becomes all the more imperative that we understand how to identify it and how to develop global leadership talent. So, how do we do that? Well, first of all I think it’s helpful to think about what are the common questions we get as we confront that question.
I’ve put up a list of some of those. One of the first is “does everybody in the organization need to be globalized?” We recognize that there may be some different degrees there but often companies are struggling with just who exactly in the organization needs to be developed and who needs to be assessed as to whether they need development. Other common questions are:
- How many global leaders do we need?
- Can you get by with a small cadre of global leaders or do you need a large number?
- Do you need deep bench strength?
- Do we have the time and the resources to develop global leaders?
- What will it take to develop them?
- Is this a real priority of top management?
Often, we find a real disconnect between the human resource development leaders that we’re talking to and C-suite executives who give a nod to the need for that but often don’t express the enthusiasm that moving in that direction will require in terms of resources.
What are some of the issues around aligning our overall human resource policies to help develop global leaders and to support them once we have them in position?
And then some final thoughts is that given the different industries and markets, do the global leaders need to be trained in industry-specific ways? Are there different needs for somebody in the resource extraction industry in terms of global leadership development as opposed to say retail or financial services?
So these are some of the questions we’ve got and hopefully these are aligned with some of the questions that you may be bringing to the webinar this morning.
How Do We Cultivate Global Leadership Talent
For us as we look at this issue and as we’ve talked with clients, one of the central questions, if not the central question, is: Do we make or buy global leadership talent? Given the strong pressures that I cited earlier: Have we got the time to develop them or do we need to go out and purchase them? Alternatively, if we feel like we have the time and have the resources, how do we go about developing them? And I would note in both of those situations, assessment is critical.
If the decision is to buy global leadership talent then how do we assess whether that talent has the capability we’re looking for? How do we identify that? We’ve come to recognize that assessment plays a critical role in that. Conversely, if we decide to make the talent in house, if we decide to grow it in-house through various development programs, on the job training and the like, we need to assess because we need to establish baseline levels in order to determine what to develop and think about how to go about developing that.
What Do We Measure To Show Global Competency
So in either case it seems like assessment should play an important role. The next question is: What do we measure? And this is an interesting question. Companies have come down in a lot of different directions. Many companies have competency and profiles or frameworks that they work with as they moved globally, often found it necessary to revise or redevelop or refine those frameworks. Note that one company, and I’d say they strike me as fairly typical, had an 11 competency framework that they were working with.
But we also find that in some instances companies have gone to as many as 250 competencies. I’m not sure how they go about measuring all of those that seems like a rather large task, but the point is simply that there’s a lot to look at and indeed my review of all of the literature and all of the research on competencies has identified more than 150 different competencies that scholars and executives have identified as central. Now certainly within that framework there’s a lot of overlap and there’s a lot of commonality across the competencies, but what I take away from this is that there’s a real challenge in identifying what are the competencies to measure.
At the Kozai Group our focus tends to be on those competencies that we would call foundational. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. As we think about competencies in general, we can think about competencies that are job-specific or role-specific competencies. For example, around the use of various software technology, say in data analysis, represents a role-specific competency. Not all positions require data analysis competency but that can be very specific and in some particular global leadership positions may be a critical competency.
Other competencies are not so specific they tend to be more general. Often many of the competencies we study are more in the area we call dispositional capabilities or cognitive orientation capabilities. Within the Kozai Group, we’ve focused on measuring what we call the foundational global competencies and recognize that those require time and effort to develop. Certainly, if we’re going to run with that, it requires a careful assessment to make sure that we’ve identified them and are confident that we have a good measure that we see these foundational
competencies. One of the reasons we focus on them is because they are, in our minds, the mortar that locks in a group of other more general competencies and I would say competencies that companies often feel more comfortable around because they feel like they have good measurements of those already. Just like the difference between good mortar and and not-so-good mortar in a wall, the stronger those foundational competencies the stronger the overall leadership capability that we see within global leaders.
So a number of years back Mark and Joyce, another colleague at the Kozai Group, undertook an assessment of all the different competencies that they could find across all of the research and ended up grouping about 50 or 60 competencies.
Two Key Groups: Global Business Competencies and Intercultural Competencies
They began essentially to sort them by dropping them into buckets if you will. When they got done with that sort they had six buckets and as they looked at those six buckets they could see that they clearly fell into two groups. One group we’ll call it the intercultural competencies and they drop those in the buckets of relationship management, perception management and self-management and the other they referred to as global business competencies and they seemed to break down in three ways. One were competencies around global business expertise;
- Do you understand the business?
- Do you have insight into how things work?
- Do you know what the key drivers are within the industry?
- What are the levers to pull and what are the buttons to push to be effective in that business context?
A second set of competencies was around global organizing;
- Do you know how to structure the company?
- Do you know how to arrange work roles?
- Do you know how to sort out lines of authority and reporting lines and can you manage those structures that you create?
So this has to do with the internal functioning of the organization. And then the last one was a vision;
- Do you have a sense of and can you develop and relay that to others – communicate that to others about where the organization or where your unit should be heading and how you should get there?
So that was on the one side, on the other side the intercultural competencies, they broke it down into competencies that had to do with managerial perception about understanding situations, competencies with managing people and competencies related to managing self.
Those three mortar factors; perception management, relationship management and self-management are the ones that we focus on when we look at assessing global leadership competency. That’s not to say the others are not important. They are important, but our research suggests that the mortar that holds the bricks together – the bricks can be solid, but if there’s nothing binding them together they make for a weak structure and so we focus on that.
I’m going to hand this over to Mark at this point and let him talk more about those competencies.
Thanks Alan. The fundamental competencies, you’ll see these in different colors, they coincide with the conceptual buckets that Alan just discussed. So non-judgmentalness, openness, tolerance of ambiguity, cosmopolitanism, interest flexibility, all are within the perception management dimension. The competencies listed in orange, all are competencies that empirical research shows these are the competencies that come up over and over again as being critical. That’s in the relationship management dimension. And the final competencies relate to self-management.
One thing that’s quite interesting, and probably many of you have lived overseas or worked in a global context, it’s very taxing, it’s very stressful, it’s very intra-personally challenging. And so the competencies of optimism, self-confidence, self-identity, emotional resilience, non-stress tendency. If a person just naturally doesn’t get stressed out as much as others, it doesn’t make a person good, bad or indifferent. It’s just helpful in a global context and stress management.
We could spend time going over each of these in in detail but we’re not going to do that today. There’s plenty of resources we can provide you that will enable you to drill down and understand the nuances of all of these specific competencies but this is what we measure.
We measure these competencies. Without these, it seems that the more hard competencies of business knowledge, global business knowledge, things like that – in other words, without these, it’s hard to deploy those others.
How Do Organizations and Employees Develop Competencies
So how do you develop these or can you develop these? We can talk about this later but what we find and what we found with our clients at the Kozai Group and before that as independent consultants, is that there’s a fundamental process of developing these foundational global competencies or enhancing them or learning more about them to deploy them strategically.
First, you have to have an individual assessment. We have just found that without understanding where you’re at, if you’re an individual, you can’t move forward. People aren’t aware they even have these competencies. They’re not aware of the degree to which they have them. Individual assessment for development is just absolutely critical.
The second phase after developing that self-awareness, requires shifting into a new learning context. What we found and what the research shows is that simply going to exec ed programs, for the most part, actually really doesn’t develop these types of competencies. It might develop a lot of those higher order type of competencies in terms of hard skills but these foundational competencies, that are so necessary to deploying those harder global business knowledge type skills, it seems to require a new learning context. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. And what it requires in that learning context is moving beyond self-awareness to actually experientially rigorously behaving, doing these competencies. We’ll give you a couple of examples of that.
Gaining Self Awareness of Competencies
So phase one, how do you help somebody get self awareness about these competencies inventories? We’ve developed the global competencies inventory and the intercultural effectiveness scale. There’s other people that have developed some inventories. All these are very necessary in order to help people start to understand where am I at in these competencies?
A second aspect of self-awareness that I like to use, in addition to inventories, is to have them subjectively self assess themselves. This can be also done with 360 instruments that are more finely tuned to this. It can even be done by having people just simply ask others about these competencies, if they see them in them, etcetera. But having an inventory is very, very helpful to get the ball rolling. Developmental readiness means how much somebody wants to learn these competencies. Developmental readiness basically means you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her drink it, right?
Putting Individuals into Experiential Environments
Okay, moving into the new context, what we found from both practice and the research literature, is that in order for people to develop these competencies they have to be put into a situation that’s highly experiential, that’s novel, it’s not just in their same type of day-to-day environment, there has to be some challenge associated with it. There has to be a certain threshold of risk. In other words, what we found is people don’t tend to develop these competencies unless they’re put into a new type of learning context which is outside the classroom.
Another way to put it, many of you have heard of the 70-20-10 framework.
- Ten percent of learning is traditional classroom / workshop /seminar-based
- Twenty percent is talking with other people, having friends, having peer groups where you talk and share.
- Seventy percent is learning by doing and
We like to take people to the seventy percent. A lot of times when we work with individual global leaders, we have them develop personal development plans around specific competencies and we help them develop a plan where they work on this daily for at least 15 minutes to half an hour a day.
Then, we set up an accountability schedule where they have to report to us, kind of in a coaching situation. However, I found that even without traditional coaching, just having people work a personal development plan with accountability, I find that they can actually increase in these competencies on their own without a lot of high level coaching if they have at least an average level of developmental readiness. Coaching can be extremely powerful in developing these competencies, if the first two phases exist.
And then of course I’ve talked about accountability processes. We found that without accountability, people tend to revert back to laziness so to speak. It does require some accountability to move forward. I won’t go into a lot of detail about best practices, there’s an excellent article in academy of management learning and education that studied.
Examples of Experiential Programs
PricewaterhouseCooper’s project, Ulysses, where they take global leaders or people who are high potentials and put them in teams, with a little bit of training, send them overseas for two months to work in developing countries to solve problems locally with host Nationals that have nothing to do with their skill set per se. The research has found that because of the shift of the context and the immersion, it triggers the ability of these people to develop these foundational competencies that we’ve talked about.
IBM’s corporate Service Corps takes a similar approach based on Peace Corps and we can talk about some of these later but the outcomes are highly effective in competency development and on other positive outcomes as well.
What do you do if you can’t afford to do some very immersive, very expensive program like that? USB in Switzerland wanted to increase the intercultural competencies in its people a while ago. They took them off the job for about a month to six weeks. Rather than send them overseas in a very costly kind of situation, they had them volunteer in local organizations. In other words, not going to the bank or anything but just spending time in organizations that work with immigrants, HIV patients, etc. They found just doing that domestically was enough of a shift in context to develop some of these foundational competencies we’ve been talking about.
Using Personal Development Plans to Increase Competencies
I’ve already mentioned personal development plans. Let me give an example of how that works very quickly and then we can get to some questions and answers because we don’t want to talk the whole time.
I was working with an Austrian accountant and she was finishing a high-level MBA program and after we assessed her using the global competencies inventory, she scored quite low in tolerance of ambiguity. When I met with her one-on-one she said “that’s me, that’s an accurate assessment” she said “I plan my life out, my daily planner is planned by the hour all week. I know exactly what I’m going to do.” The nature of the job in schooling I guess was such that it was quite predictable and she had a general kind of personality tendency to have a high need for control and she didn’t like ambiguity at all. She goes “so I need to work on that”.
I worked with her for six weeks. The first week she studied tolerance of ambiguity to really understand it and in the second week she developed a personal development plan. The key to these is not to start out large but to start out doing concrete activities that can influence a competency. So this is what she did. She said “I’m a control freak with myself, so what I’m gonna do is, I’m going to program in ambiguity into my schedule”. She said I better go with this kind of slowly.
The first week she scheduled in three hours. She did a few other activities, but she scheduled in three hours that were blank. And after the first week, she reported to me that it completely freaked her out and it stressed her out. She got to Thursday at 3:00 PM and she didn’t know what to do because nothing was planned. She goes, what should I do? I don’t know. She kind of wandered around and by the end of six weeks, she had scheduled at least an hour, each day, sometimes longer. She was cooking. She was reading novels. During that time, she was exploring aspects of herself that had been suppressed since childhood. And she actually began to look forward to those times where she could have some ambiguity in her life.
I followed up with her six months later and asked her how things were going. She said, well, you know, about a month and a half after our relationship had ended, it was because it was a MBA class. I kept doing it. She said, but then because of lack of accountability, I didn’t have to report to you. It sort of just tailed off. She said about that time, I took a new job at a multinational company doing global accounting for the company, which of course is lots different than doing it at the national level. Very ambiguous, very vague, not a lot of right answers. And she said I moved into that role very comfortably. It was okay. And she said I realized that after I’d been working in that role for a while, that I couldn’t have done that without having first undergone that personal development plan.
So we see people progress and expand the degree to which they have these competencies, but it can only be done in certain ways. It cannot be done through a traditional classroom workshop. There’s a place for that, but only as it might help self-awareness to some degree. So that is our introduction. We hope that that might stimulate a few questions. We’d like to hear those questions either verbally or in the question box here or in the chat box. We would love to discuss with you our experiences and to see if they have any value for you in what you’re struggling with. Allan, any final thoughts?
No, I think we’ve laid a foundation here for a wider ranging discussion and exploration. Let’s turn the time back over to our moderator to see if we’ve got questions. I see at least one that’s come in, but I wonder if there might be others.
Questions & Answers: Do the speakers use mindfulness methods?
Sure. This is Nicole. We have a question from another Mark that says, I’m curious if our speakers utilize any mindfulness methods and somatic perspective or exercises.
I’ll let Allan answer in a second, but you know, one of the things I have seen and found, and actually in the Kozai Group, there’s five partners. We’re all pretty different. I mean, in terms of how we like to do things. I have found that because we’re dealing with really foundational kinds of intercultural competencies that actually can be applied domestically as well as globally, that the methods that we are used to using in our own individual consulting and coaching, we tend to apply to these. I personally don’t use any specific mindfulness methods or somatic exercises. Most of what I do is based on cognitive behavior therapy. And so when I work with people I’m really working from a clinical psychological model, I found that cognitive behavior therapy is just so highly effective around behavioral change, cognitive change, et cetera, that it just fits.
It works for me really effectively in working with global leaders on these competencies, essentially what I did with that Austrian accountant. It’s not what I did. It’s just, it was a framework that was essentially cognitive behavior therapy. And so if anybody’s interested in that I’ve written a couple of articles about that. I can send those to you or give you the sources where you can find those. But my general recommendation is to learn about these competencies, understand that they’re the mortar that allows hard competencies to be deployed more strategically and then use the existing tools that you already have that you’re already good at for the most part. But I would like to learn more about, you know, mindfulness methods, maybe in some ways it can be argued cognitive behavior therapy relates highly to that. But so that’s how I would respond to that, Allan.
Yeah. I would just follow up on Mark’s comment about using the tools that you’re comfortable with and that you have available to you. We haven’t talked in much detail about professional or personal development plans, but my inclination is always to let the individual drive this process. I might think I know what will work for them, or what’s good for them. And I can make some suggestions or put some ideas out there. But if it’s not an idea that the individual will embrace or will get excited about, then usually they won’t follow through. I’ve worked with some coaches who have used some mindfulness approaches and techniques. I myself have not used them, but that I would say is more a reflection of my background in training. And like Mark, haven’t gotten up to speed on those sorts of things. Most of the work I do tends to be much more driven by what individuals tell me. So if an individual comes to me and says, I wanna work on non-judgmentalness we’ll talk about that. And there may be some mindfulness practices there. I would think particularly with regard to non-judgmentalness where mindfulness approaches would be effective, but I usually let them drive that process. I hope that’s helpful.
Question & Answer: How Do You Develop A Global Leader Who Lacks EQ?
Great. Thank you. We have a lot of great questions here. The next one I’ll say is from Maya that says, how do you develop a global leader who lacks EQ?
So what you’re dealing with is someone who lacks emotional intelligence or is fairly low in some of those dimensions. The challenge I have found in working with those people is it comes down for me. A lot of times to the level of their developmental readiness. Are they high in developmental readiness, medium or low in it? The first step is to assess them because I have found a lot of times, people low in emotional intelligence who are high-level managers or managers may not think they are. Some are aware they’re low, but some are not. So in either case whether they are aware that they’re low in it, or they’re not aware that they’re low in it. And they think that everybody else just needs to adjust to them, the first point is an assessment. It really is because then you have some kind of data to show them that they may have strengths in some areas, but they also kind of have some areas that they could work on.
The question at this point is, do they accept that this is my view. And it’s kind of a wintry cold brutal fact after they’ve been given some feedback that maybe they have some areas they could work on –
- what do they do with that feedback?
- Do they freeze it out? Do they get defensive?
- Do they criticize the feedback?
In other words, do they exhibit low developmental readiness? I have found that until the problem of developmental readiness is solved in people with maybe low emotional intelligence, it’s impossible to move forward. So rather than try to force them down a path, I don’t, I haven’t wound up working with lots of people like that gratefully, but the ones that I have, I’ve learned that I have to just ask them questions about their developmental readiness. Are you committed to increasing your global leadership skills or deep down, do you just want to stay where you’re at? And if you deep down just want to stay where you’re at, what’s the implications of that. This is where the coaching comes in. It’s a discussion. It may take time, but until they kind of increase that developmental readiness, if you force a personal plan on them, they won’t do it, or they’ll say they do it. And they really, I found with them developmental readiness, addressing that first is really important. Allan, what are your thoughts?
If I can kind of segue and, and move us in a different direction. I’ll talk about some things that I think directly address that question, but also apply more broadly to the development of other competencies. Once you have an assessment, the data that Mark was talking about, I think of it as a mirror that you hold up to somebody and you ask them to look in the mirror and then I decide, do I like what I see there? What do I think about what I’m seeing in the mirror? Do I want to break the mirror? Or do I get upset and say the mirror’s not accurate. There’s something wrong with it. But once you have that data in hand and begin to think about that data, the question becomes what do I do with this?
And when I talk with the individuals about how to develop, I break it down into three types of development. The first is leverage. If your competencies are really high and that doesn’t mean you’re all set there’s often tremendous potential to figure out how to leverage. So if I’m good at interpersonal engagement, I like engaging with people who are different from me. I like exploring relationships. And I know that’s something I’m good at, how can I leverage that? How can I use that to greater effectiveness in the other work that I do? So leverage is one I’m not good in it. And that brings us to the current question, somebody’s low EQ. There are two directions you can go. What can I do to compensate for being low in this area? This is not one of my strong suits. So what can I do to compensate, to offset the fact if I’m low in EQ. Are there other other mechanisms I can rely on? Are there ways to structure situations so that my EQ weaknesses are less apparent or less likely to be dysfunctional or derailing to what I’m trying to accomplish. So that’s the one side and then the other one is develop. Do I want to develop this? If I’m low on EQ, if I’m low on interpersonal engagement, what do I want to do to try and develop or raise up this competency?
So I think in terms of leverage, compensate and develop, and then working with that individual saying, okay, which way do we want to go with this? If their score isn’t high, obviously we’re not going to do leverage. If their scores are low, then the question becomes, do we compensate or do we develop, and we may decide, in some instances, I’m just going to compensate. I’m going to find some other mechanisms like structuring situations and support staff and that won’t be a critical concern. On other occasions, they’re going to say the nature of this job and where I’m trying to be in terms of my competency development, this is something I really need to work on. And then we’ll tackle that through a professional development plan. Here are the steps that I’m going to take. And over time, here’s how I’ll improve.
Yeah. One of the benefits like Allan’s talking about is that a really good assessment shows you what your strengths are. Most people are not aware of their strengths. And like Allan’s saying, basically if you can help people see that they’re stronger in areas than they may have thought they were stronger in, they can use those areas to help them actually develop competencies that they’re weaker in.
Yeah, if we flip this and say, I’m high in interpersonal engagement and I’m low in tolerance of ambiguity, then I can leverage my interest and my willingness to have conversations and talk with people who are different from me as a means to explore greater ambiguity. Instead of meeting those people in more controlled circumstances, I might meet up with them and then use that relationship to get them, to take me to places that are more ambiguous. So that would represent a leveraging strategy where I’m going to use my competency in one area to help me develop in another.
Question & Answer: What Are Your Thoughts on the Gating Factors for Professional Capabilities?
Great, thank you. Another question that came in from Travis says, I really like the assessment criteria they seem to be largely personal. What are your thoughts on the gating factors for professional capabilities? More specifically, do you think it should be required that the individual be high performing and or high potential? In your accountant example do we presuppose that she was an excellent high performing high potential accountant?
What we know from research is that people sent to these like IBM PeaceCorps programs, PWC, and Glenn Glass. It all starts with the fact that these people are good at hard skills, especially domestically. In other words, these people are bright. These people are sharp. These people are high performers. Then they start to move into areas that are more intercultural and global in nature. And interestingly, some of the competencies that enable them to be such high performers domestically, they don’t really have the competencies they need to be global all the time. Yes, we can make that assumption. Most of the time people are assessed on their technical and professional abilities before going on an international assignment, whatever, by far and away the biggest criterion of why people are even working overseas is that they’re very good at what they did domestically.
Yeah, I would add to that often they’ve demonstrated, and in an international context, if we’re talking about somebody who’s been working internationally. We know that there’s significant differences as you move up from lower managerial levels to mid-level management positions. We know there’s a significant leap in what’s required of people as they move from mid to senior level positions. The nature of the job, the scope of the job, and often what identifies them at the mid-level position is what I would call their operational excellence. So they’re really good at managing at that level, but it’s very hard for them to make the step up to the next level. And part of what makes it difficult is that it requires that, if we can stick with our bricks and mortar analogy, the bricks become less important than the mortar becomes more important.
And so they may have some capabilities, but they don’t appreciate that they need to rely on those capabilities much more and often that’s what I’ve seen that move from mid to senior is usually a wake up call with regard to those,for example, the intercultural interpersonal skills, but it may just as well be with the self-management things that they were doing that allowed them to function or be effective at that level. But generally the people we’re talking about are people who are on their way up, who are high performers and because they’re high performers are being put in more, more critical positions. I think that’s the nature of where we are with human resource management right now is you want your A talent in the A positions. And then that’s where companies also sink their largest investment.
The problem is you’re assessing a talent at a specific level, but A positions are really A plus G right? The A plus global and before they were A plus domestic. People assume that if somebody’s excellent at one level, they’ll naturally just carry on and be excellent at another. When that broader and global scope actually requires additional competencies or higher levels of competencies then they may have had to have at the lower levels.
Question & Answer: What Do We Know About the Organizational Context? For example, team setting supporting these competencies.
We may have time for one more question depending. So I will choose this one from Ursula. We have many, so we’ll definitely follow up with each of you that ask questions that we’re not able to get to today. But the question here from Ursula says, what do we know about the organizational context? For example, team setting supporting these competencies.
It’s critical. What we know is that if the organizational context and of course that can mean a lot of different things. So this is where I’m going with this is that if the context, meaning C-suite mindset of top management,, if they don’t get it that developing these competencies is important and actually strategic the degree to which a consultant or the company itself can really work at developing their people is really aborted. It’s like having one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the break at the same time. What I have found is that companies will let you to different degrees work with their people. They know they need more global leadership competencies in their people, but different companies will let you do different things. They’ll let you go farther than other companies will.
For example, they might say do a personal plan with this person, but they’re not really serious about it. You work with the person for six weeks and then that’s all the budget we have for it. And we’re done. And so I’m very open to whatever any company is willing to let us do because we want to help people. But the organizational contexts differ widely between companies. Some companies like IBM, they’re willing to take high potentials out of their jobs for two months and put them in a context where research shows competencies can be really deeply increased. They see that as strategic. I was dealing with one organization and they were asking about this. And I said how much training time do you have? And how are you looking at that? And they said we have half a day for organizational context. I’m taking a long time to say the short answer to your question is yes, organizational context is massively influential in the degree to which global leadership competencies are gonna be developed in their people.
I know we’re tight on time, but let me come at this from a slightly different direction. Mark talked about the overall structure. I’ve Been working with a Japanese organization where the top management team is committed. We have taken out cohorts, small groups of 15 to 20 executives and worked with them for a year on a fairly intensive process. And so there’s a strong message from the top management team, that this is important to us. We’re investing time. We’re investing resources in this and that seemed to work well. As we track the progress of individuals in one year of that program, we noticed one individual did not seem to be developing. It was really puzzling because on all of the measures we had, it looked like they ought to.
And as we dug down deep, what we discovered is while the organization had a commitment to that, his immediate line manager had no commitment. And in fact spent a great deal of time denigrating the program. He was punishing him for being in the program. Consequently, the organization responded by moving him to a different unit where he had a more supportive manager. There are some levels to this and some shades to this are important. It really drives home the importance of understanding the organizational setting. This individual would have lost the developmental potential of that experience. If we hadn’t identified that issue, that was part of the organizational context and the company hadn’t been willing to make that move on his behalf.
Let me give you the opposite of that example. At a company we were working with where I would say the organizational context was so-so. I was at the company doing some consulting and a guy I didn’t know came up and said, can I take the GCI assessment again? And I said, well, yeah, we can arrange that. I had not met him. Our other colleagues had worked with him. I can’t remember how long ago it was, maybe nine months. Yeah. And I said why do you want to take it again? And he said, I realized when I took that, I am not global. I wasn’t global at all. So you guys gave us some ideas of what to do. I’ve been working on four or five of them all by myself. We didn’t know about this. So he took it again and his scores increased. So this guy was working in an organizational context that really wasn’t that great, but he had such high levels of developmental readiness. He just did it himself. So it’s sort of the opposite of Allan’s example. It’s interesting how context does matter, but there’s different levels of it.
Well, thank you so much, Mark and Allan. We want to be respectful of your time. We did receive a lot of questions from you that we were not able to get to. So we’ll put together some follow up resources, things that we discussed today, as well as some responses to the questions that we were not able to get to. We’ll send all of that along with the recording and the slides from today. So thank you all very much. Thank you, Mark and Allan. It was a pleasure to have you today and wish you all a wonderful rest of your day.