Survival of the fittest – Only those survive who optimally adapt to their environment or who are able to procreate in spite of adverse circumstances. Darwin’s principle is still valid for nature and, in the figurative sense, also for modern organisations who have to sustain their position in a complex environment of digitalisation, globalisation and therewith a constantly changing world of work and customers. Well trained leaders and managers are a crucial factor of competition and survival.
International leadership development as a crucial competitive factor
The ongoing internationalisation of the economy – first and foremost conditioned by technological progress – entails the necessity of international leadership development. In addition to individual country cultures international and global company cultures gain a more and more important role. Organisations listed at the Wall Street want to follow (nearly) the same values in New York and in China. Furthermore the employer attractiveness is linked to the leadership culture.
Well trained leaders and managers are a crucial competitive factor on the global market. It’s possible to copy technologies but never company and leadership cultures or the people living them. In order to not only survive on the global market but to create competitive advantages, to grow and to master even complex challenges, organisations should ask themselves the following questions:
⇒ Which requirements do our leaders need on the global market? Which of them are already given and which of them have to be strengthened?
⇒ As an organisation, which measures can we realise so that our leaders and managers follow harmonised strategies?
⇒ What do we have to keep in mind to realise effective and successful international leadership development measures?
Boosting innovation by developing experts – Extended target groups for development measures
For organisations who want to create competitive and innovative advantages in the long term it is not enough to focus on the development of line managers only. In today’s knowledge society experts with their professional and operational know-how became a key factor of the production process within organisations. A software engineer who develops a valuable and on the market highly demanded software sometimes can generate more profit for an organisation than any top manage could.
To be successful and competitive on the global market organisations have to use the internal expert knowledge at its best and simultaneously have to keep it in the organisation. Therefore development measures must not only have advantages for the organisation itself but be also attractive for the experts. That’s the only way to guarantee that projects and ideas have the chance to develop and that no innovation is missed like it happened to Kodak.
The perfect time for investment in leadership development
Reality shows that if organisations are in financial troubles leadership development as well as human resource development is reduced to a minimum or event stopped completely.
Asking if this is the right strategy there will be two different voices answering:
Representing the HR perspective, one of them will claim that leadership development measures are essential in times of trouble to make the “good” leaders stay in the organisation instead of leaving the assumed-to-sink ship. Again, employer attractiveness is a topic here. If competing organisations invest in leadership development while the own one does nothing at all it might happen that other organisations become more attractive and valuable leaders and managers leave.
The second perspective is the entrepreneur’s one from a commercial point of view: As soon as financial borders are near, illiquidity as the worst of them, everything related to improvement and extension of the system has to be stopped in order to sustain the system at all. However, it depends on how bad the crisis already is. If insolvency is not (yet) a topic leadership development can be still possible but to a very concentrated extent.
On the other hand there are situations definitely favouring leadership development. A good example is expansion because it means that many new leaders are needed very soon. They have to be prepared for the specific challenges and requirements of the organisation and as multipliers it’s them training and retaining the new staff. If this process of organic growth does not work the whole expansion might fail. So experience shows that expansion is a very usual occasion to invest in leadership development on a grand scale. The fact that the expanding organisation often is in a very good financial state is also beneficial.
Merge, acquisition and split-off
Last but not least there are mergers, acquisitions and split-offs who often need accompanying measures for leaders, managers and/or employees. Usually these situations do not need classical leadership programs but rather individual measures related to the organisation’s particular situation.
In a nutshell: All significant strategic changes within organisations have to have an impact on human resource and leadership development in order to master these situations successfully.
International leadership development – Local vs. global measures
Local vs. central development measures
Centrally developed measures being rolled out in all countries or target groups meeting at one place for concentrated development measures: The decision if the one or other option is the best is first and foremost a question about the organisation’s size and geographic width.
An example: An organisation was created in Germany and expanded to Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. It has about 500 employees and therewith about 50 line managers or leaders. These numbers and the geographical structure suggest that the leaders do the development measures, e.g. training days, together at one place.
On the other hand, if we are talking about a global organisation with more than 1000 leaders and managers distributed in the whole world the central approach is – maybe aside from the top level – not possible from a financial point of view.
! Practical example ! As often, the exception proves the rule. One of our customers from the online-trade and tourism sector employs worldwide “only” about 500 employees. The headquarter is in the Netherlands but the organisation is also very strong in the USA, in India and in Australia. For an annual leadership program leaders from all different countries are flying in to one training place to grow and learn together. Online development and transfer measures complete the training program.
Discover more real-case examples for international leadership development programs >>
Talking about online: Digitalisation also acts a part when organisations have to choose between central and local development measures. The more blended learning, digital and e-learning or simply said online measures can play a role the more it is possible to complete the cost-intensive personal meetings with online development measures.
Local vs. international training provider
The selection of the right training provider or rather it’s radius of operation is key for successful development measures. International organisations with a headquarter in Europe often allocate development measures to the markets following the motto: The local HR department know best what they need and what works for the target group. While this assumption has it’s eligibility for sure there might be certain company cultural elements and quality standards organisations want to spread globally the same way. Compared with local providers or single trainers, from an HR point of view it has a lot of advantages working with a training provider who is able to cover development measures in all the organisation’s countries from one source:
⇒ They can rely on the same quality of all trainings and measures
⇒ The company culture can be globally influenced and harmonized
⇒ Knowledge sharing during conception and design of measures between headquarter, countries and relevant stakeholders
⇒ Economy of human resources, for example when it comes to extensive briefings, train the trainer measures and so on
⇒ Common understanding and common language – in the figurative sense – makes international roll-outs easier
What serves you next?
Nobody likes to give insights into fields, where problems exist. And due to a mutual comfort zone everybody tends to avoid questions about it. We’re talking about trainers and organisations designing development programs together. For real trainings results as well as positive and direct contribution to business-goals it takes courage – on both sides.
Since decades there are leadership programs for leaders and sales programs for sales managers. In terms of the development of experts you find comparatively few specific offers and programs. Even more surprising if you think of the fact that the experts’ importance is constantly rising in nowadays knowledge society and that they can give a boost to an organisation’s innovation potential.
Since 2010, more than 800 First Line Managers completed the three-module Mondi First Line Manager Program. From participants to the managing board, the program has a very high standing and contributes to the success of Mondi. On this occasion, we invited Birgit Höttl, HR manager and project leader of the FLM program at Mondi.