Global Leaders Aren't Made in the Classroom

Last month, we chatted about what global leaders need to know—Intellectual Capital, Psychological Capital, and Social Capital--and where to start with their development—by leveraging development opportunities and tools already in your organization.  Once you’ve identified existing resources, what do you do with them? 

Our research at Najafi Global Mindset Institute shows that leaders with the highest Global Mindset abilities are not made in the classroom.  They develop through a series of layered learning and experiences over time.  Now, that’s not to say classroom or instructor-led training isn’t valuable.  In fact, a large part of Global Mindset is based in cognitive learning (Intellectual Capital).  But that is only one piece of global leadership. 

Leaders must also have strong Psychological Capital, including passion for diversity, quest for adventure, and self-assurance.  Psychological Capital is about motivation and drive, and it is one of the hardest areas to develop.  Our research shows that it can, indeed, be developed through experiences.  We’re all familiar with experiential learning, but developing Psychological Capital demands more than simple exposure.  Experiences need to be designed to influence attitudes, values, and self-efficacy.  The affective learning many organizations are doing with EQ (emotional intelligence), diversity, and ethics all fall in this area. 

Social learning methods are also quite important for global leadership development.  Our global leaders need to have strong intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, and diplomacy.  In short, they need Social Capital.  This requires taking their cognitive and affective learning and putting it into action in interactions with others.  Our research shows that a good way to build this skill is through mentoring, coaching, and peer work, such as small group work.  Especially when working with diverse others, we need frequent practice. 

So what does all of this mean for how you design global leadership development in your organization?  It must be dynamic.  Leaders need a blend of cognitive, affective, and social learning to turn learning into behaviors and actions.  Since you’ve already identified your existing development opportunities and resources to leverage, knowing this will help you to combine them in dynamic ways.  It should also help you pinpoint additional resources you need. 

Stayed tuned for next month’s blog on how to develop intercultural empathy. 

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