The necessary skills to be a global leader seem to be a nonnegotiable in the future as the world continues to globalize and people of the world are forced to live in a global village where different cultures, customs, and ways of life must coexist (Mendenhall et al., 2008). The definition of a global leader is someone able to craft solutions by bringing together people and resources across national, cultural, and even organizational boundaries (Cabrera & Unruh, 2012). Unfortunately, this definition can be slightly misleading because it implies, whether intentionally or by the lens the reader uses, that global leadership happens away from one’s home country. This can be a dangerous misstep for leaders to make.
Global leaders are those with a vision that is inspired by a worldwide challenge that remains unsolved (Carbera & Unruh, 2012). Where the misconception appears is when the assumption is made that the worldwide challenge is distant from one’s own neighborhood, city and country. Domestic leadership may appear less globally minded because of the geographic assumptions placed on global leadership; however, because of globalization and the blending of cultures, global leadership can exist right across the street. Global leaders are open-minded individuals flexible in their thoughts and actions in order to work in various settings with a variety of people with an open mindset (McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002). This mindset does not just apply to a missions trip, a business trip, or an assignment of compassion in a third world country, rather, it comes into play whenever a leader encounters a setting unlike their own with a culture unlike their own. So, it would appear the greatest difference in leading globally or domestically would be geography.
How different does a people group need to be in order to engage in multicultural leadership?
Cabrera, A., & Unruh, G. (2012). Being global: how to think, act, and lead in a transformed world. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press.
McCall, M. W., & Hollenbeck, G. P. (2002). Developing Global Executives: the lessons of international experience. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Mendenhall, M. E., Osland, J., Bird, A., Oddou, G. R., & Maznevski, M. L. (2008). Global leadership: research, practice, and development. London ; New York: Routledge.