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.