Coaching Global Nomadic Leaders
Extending your business internationally
Extending your business internationally by coaching Global Nomadic Leaders to find their anchors so that they are able to be mobile and do what they do best: promote change.
Too many coaches
Recently, numerous coaching schools have begun sprouting up and a plethora of coaches are pouring into the market. At present there is no official competency assessment required of coaches before they take on their first clients. This often leaves corporate clients at a loss about how to select experienced and competent coaches. While the art of Socratic questioning can be learned in coaching schools, using questions that are most pertinent for moving clients forward comes only with experience and practice.
The market is specializing
To set themselves apart, skilled, experienced coaches combine expertise with specialized processes to carve out niche markets. One coaching specialization that is increasing in importance amongst multinationals and currently preoccupies leaders and human resources is how best to identify, develop and retain multicultural, diverse and highly mobile talent, or ‘Global Nomadic Leadership Development.’ The demand for global leaders is increasing.
Who Are Global Nomadic Leaders?
Global Nomadic Leadership Development focuses on coaching highly mobile leaders during the process of repatriation or expatriation within multinational companies. Global Nomadic Leaders (GNLs) are masters of multiculturalism, were raised in several countries and speak multiple languages. They are adaptive individuals who thrive on change and are gifted with multicultural intelligence.
Why companies need global leaders
Amid accelerating change and globalization, multinational companies are in need of leaders who think globally, act locally and possess an exceptional ability to accelerate business development in complex cultural environments.
What top leaders say they want in their global leaders
The former CEO and current chairman of Nestle, the largest food and beverage company in the world, states that top leadership positions at Nestle are available for those who have lived and worked in several countries and speak several languages.i Jack Welsh, past CEO and chairman of General Electric, believes the leaders of tomorrow will have spent time in Bombay, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires.
Greg Sherill, chairman of Tenneco, a car filter manufacturing company, points out that his CEO for Europe was born in India, grew up in Saudi Arabia, was educated in the U.S. and is now responsible for Europe.ii He explains that a person with this profile understands the intricacies of small countries, each with their economic and political specificity, where economies of scale are a challenge. Global Nomadic Leaders ensure a balance of products, customers and geographical representation. This diversity allows for buy-in from various constituencies.
Here comes the bad news!
Although there is a clear need for this type of leader, many of them fail miserably when sent on overseas assignments. Forty percent of senior-level external hires derail within the first 18 months of their transitions.iii The cost of a failed senior-level leader transitioning is more than 10 times their base salary.iv The primary cause for failure is the leader’s misfit with the national and/or corporate culture.
On what basis is a leader selected for an expatriation?
The decision to send a leader abroad is often based solely on his/her technical skills or job performance in the home country. However, for a higher success rate expatriates should be further categorized into local leaders going abroad and Global Nomadic Leaders.
What is the difference between local leaders and global nomadic leaders?
Local leaders going abroad have a strong cultural identity and generally intend to repatriate back ‘home.’ Global Nomadic Leaders have moved multiple times while growing up and accumulated experience in shifting through cultural transitions. To this latter group, ‘home’ is everywhere and nowhere. Global Nomadic Leaders readily understand how to run businesses and manage employees across cultures, promoting cohesion while respecting diversity. They easily shift among their internal cultural identities according to the situations they are faced with.
What are their Stabilizing Factors?
Global Nomadic Leaders love surfing the sea of change as long as their stabilizing factors are not pulled out from underneath them. A stabilizing factor can be a mission, a person, a family or it could also be a home. When faith in a mission is unshaken, an NGO from the Red Cross will risk his/her life at the frontier of warfare to save other lives. Hypothetically, if the Red Cross were to be muddled in political corruption, the global nomadic leader’s entire ‘raison d’être’ would be shaken and s/he would likely change scenarios.
Where is home?
Even though the Global Nomadic Leader is perceived as very resilient, s/he often has a need to call some place home. A person with this profile may break down and become rootless and restless when his/her family, which is a stabilizing factor, breaks up after one too many moves. Even though home might be a place they go to only two weeks a year, it nevertheless becomes a symbol of stability. It is a ritual, an anchor and place that is the same each time they come back to it. Home is one of the only things that remain stable amid constant change.
What do Global Nomadic Leaders do when destabilized?
In these examples, the Global Nomadic Leader, faced with internal turmoil and a loss of stabilizing factors, will do what they know best – change scenarios. This is the critical moment when talented and groomed leaders may pack their bags and leave a company without a second thought. A well-advised HR professional or an experienced coach or leader, who is aware in understanding the needs of this type of leader, can make all the difference in identifying, attracting and retaining people with this profile.
One of the most important recent developments in coaching is the focus on specialized processes and markets, such as working with Global Nomadic Leaders. HR and global leaders would do well by selecting coaching with this type of specialization to help global leaders and Global Nomadic Leaders’ to master their challenges and help organizations make best use of their unique global mindset and skills.
NOTES: i Burrus-Barbey, K (2000) “Interview: Leadership, global management, and future challenges: An interview with Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chief executive officer of Nestlé SA: Thunderbird International Business Review 43(5): 495-506. ii Interview in a plane ride from Germany to the U.S. iii Study from Center for Creative Leadership as cited in Fortune magazine. See Anne Fisher, “Don’t Blow Your New Job,” Fortune, 22 June 1998. iv ibid
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Wishing you a great week.