When I first heard the term ‘Global Leadership’ my thoughts were about people who have ‘really made’ it in leadership; those who are recognized around the world as a good leader. The people who came to mind were those writing books about leadership, presidents of countries, major businessmen and women who have developed global businesses, and people working for global organisations such as the United Nations (UN).
As time progressed and my interest in leadership grew, I realised that many of these men and women were all normal people; some with influence and some without. Some have the ability to lead well when change was needed, and some were merely in a position due to democratic processes.
Today as we find so many different understandings as to what leadership really is, the added subjective of ‘Global’ adds to the complexity of defining a basic explanation. Northouse, in his book ‘Leadership; Theory and Practice’, states that, amongst other things four primary aspects of leadership exist; leadership is a process, leadership involves influence, leadership occurs in groups, and leadership includes attention to common goals (Northouse, 2010, p3).
Global Leaders however are not only people who were born with a gift to lead, or those who have developed the ability to influence. Global Leadership, in contrast to the different forms of leadership described by Northouse, is a combination of abilities, skills and experiential understanding. Global Leaders are people who have the ability to facilitate a multi-cultural, inter-generational, non-sexist groups of people to agree and work towards a common mission vision.
Boheme express in his book ‘Leadership for the 21st Century’, the importance of developing a broader worldview as vital to the survival of being someone of influence. “This thinking is not new, it is just being rediscovered. Its rebirth could be one of the most important things happening in our time. Its application will make a profound impact on the history of man” (1989, p37). Having a broader world view will not only help in the understanding of the complexity of the world better, but also assist in applying your leadership strength.
One such example of a present leadership style that applies a broader worldview theory is ‘Transformational Leadership1’. The uniqueness of this leadership style is that it empower and strengthen the follower in becoming someone with greater influence themselves. “Transformational leadership fits the needs of today’s work groups, who want to be inspired and empowered to succeed in times of uncertainty” (Northouse, 2010, p171)
The application of ‘Transformational Leadership’ within an organisational setting is what differentiates Global leadership from leadership in general. Global leadership applies the principles of ‘Transformational leadership’ within a group setting. Global leaders look beyond just accomplishing the goals of the individual, and assesses the multiple areas of influence in the group as a basis to express the diversity and the strength of the group. Global leadership is about the big picture, and a global leader is someone who has the ability to move between different cultures, generations, and geographical settings, continuously adapting his leadership style to be most effective in accomplishing the big picture. “The new organisation will need to be like a ‘jazz combo’ playing ‘free flow’ where the lead is transferred with anticipated ease in the production of the whole” (Drucker, 1994, p93).
In conclusion. The world is changing and people are more interconnected than before. Where people used to be clustered by ethnicity, more diverse communities are formed due to migration, globalisation, and the internet. Never before has it been as crucial as today for leaders to intentionally increase their worldview if they wish to stay effective in their influence.
Although the term ‘Global Leadership’ might still be relevantly new, the application of it is in much greater demand than before.