A Big Balancing Act: Local vs. Global

Imagine this scenario: A corporate vice-president and a regional director of sales are at odds. Both consider the other to be a savvy leader with solid business acumen. So what’s the problem?

Chances are the issue has to do with global expectations versus local expectations. Mike Kossler, of the Center for Creative Leadership, says that one of the biggest challenges for global leaders is managing the tension between the need to be globally consistent while taking into account local differentiation. In the example you just heard, the challenge is immense for both leaders. The corporate VP is responsible for the whole picture. He operates out of his home country and culture, but travels extensively to regional operations around the world. He relies on regional directors to implement the corporate strategy, but he isn’t immersed in the culture or the work the way his direct reports are.

The regional director has another set of challenges. In this case, he may feel that much of the corporate strategy breaks down or becomes extraordinarily complex when applied to his office. He is frustrated that the vice president can’t see that.

Global Leaders: The Reality of Multiple Complexities

The role of a global leader has a particular complexity, one that is categorically different from the complexity faced by domestic and even regional leaders. To be an effective global leader, you must be able to operate amid myriad challenges. The research and experience of CCL shows that the leap from being a successful manager in your home country to a global leader is a big one. Previously successful strategies and preferred ways of leading may not translate well in a global setting.