Global Leadership Study

In this project we collaborated with the Asia Society to examine the ideas, motivations, purposes and capacities that recognized global leaders in business and social enterprises associate to their and others’ globally competent leadership.  We ask:  What motivates globally competent leaders to do the work that they do? What theories do leaders hold about the nature of global leadership, its significance, the environments in which it thrives or is compromised, the challenges it presents?  What capacities and dispositions does their work exhibit?   What life and educational experiences do leaders view as pivotal to their development as globally competent leaders?  What do they view as early markers and key developmental turning points in becoming globally competent leaders?  What kinds of professional dilemmas do they typically confront? How do they nurture and promote young leaders to succeed in today's’ global contexts? 

Our goals:

  1. To understand the nature of globally competent leadership [GCL ] with a particular emphasis on the domain of business (finances, real estate, social entrepreneurship and business education)
  2. To understand regional variations in conceptions and practices of global  leadership in the US, China and India
  3. To advance an empirically informed and illustrated definition of GCL in business

For this study we collected survey and interview data from a stratified sample of sixty business leaders (banking and finances/ technology industry/social entrepreneurs)  academic directors top ranking global business schools in three countries (India, China and the US). A series of focus groups enabled us to corroborate and adjust our emerging framework.

Our study enabled us to advance an initial usable framework for global leadership competence. propose that Global leadership is the capacity and disposition to mobilize others to understand matters of local and global significance in order to seize opportunities and improve conditions. The framework understands global leadership to hold a few key characteristics:  Individuals hold espoused and enacted theories of GCL; GCL is, in great measure, domain specific; it is a learned capacity and it is contextual and complex.

Our analysis shed light on a dispositional view of global leadership, advancing a definition that integrates competencies, inclinations, and character traits. Three foundational dispositions form the core of global leadership:

  1. Investigate the world to envision  a better future;
  2. Understand and mobilize people across cultures;
  3. Maximize human development, growth, and innovation.

We also identified cultural influences on global leadership.  For example, (a) while leaders across our sample used similar terms to describe global leadership, cultural influences caused them to associate different meanings to similar expressions. (b) In a globalized, interconnected world, hybrid leadership styles and cultural identities are increasingly common. We found a strong sense of global responsibility felt and enacted by global leaders especially among social entrepreneurs in our sample.