Global6 – Assessing Leadership in a Global Context – Part 2

The Global6 360° feedback instrument is a brand new tool for global leaders developed by the Center for Creative Leadership.  It is ideal for business managers who are leading global teams.  Like any 360° instrument, Global6 provides the opportunity for a leader’s boss, peers, and direct reports to provide him/her with direct feedback.  The focus of that feedback is on leadership effectiveness and Global6 helps a leader to note how their leadership style might or might not be effective in different cultures.

The instrument is based on the ground-breaking research conducted by the GLOBE (“Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness”) research program conceived and managed by Robert House of the Wharton School of Business. 17.300 middle managers from 951 organizations  in 58 countries contributed to the findings.  It is the most comprehensive study to date that has empirically researched the relationship between culture and leader behavior.

One of GLOBE’s major findings was to make explicit how other cultures conceptualize leadership. Leader effectiveness is contextual.  People’s expectations of leadership are shaped by their early experiences with leaders which in turn are shaped by one’s culture and upbringing. As a result, what consititutes good leadership across the world differs depending on your cultural perspective.  For example, compassionate leadership which is concerned with the well-being of others may be seen as effective or ineffective depending on what culture you come from.

The GLOBE study began by looking at 112 leadership characteristics such as trustworthiness, decisiveness, modesty, etc. This list was statistically boiled down to 21 scales of relevant leadership characteristics.  In turn, these 21 characteristics were conceptually grouped into 6 leadership dimensions.

It is these characteristics and dimensions that form the backbone of the Global6 360° instrument.  The SIX leadership dimensions in Global6 are: Hierarchical, Autonomous, Humane-Oriented, Participative, Charismatic, and Team-Oriented.  A leader gets feedback across all of these dimensions.

Let us take a look at the type of output generated by this instrument.  Below is a matrix which summarizes the information for the Hierarchical leadership dimension.  The leader in question had teams reporting to him in the Anglo-Saxon World, Latin Europe and Scandinavia.  The hierarchichal dimension incorporates various characteristics – among these are the degree of formality and status-orientation of the leader.   As can be seen from the table, this leader’s teams disagree with their perception of the leader’s style.  Whereas Latin Europe and the English-speaking teams would like to see more hierarchical behaviors than the leader is currently showing, the team in Scandinavia finds the style just right.  In addition, because the Scandinavian team is in the lower left-hand quadrant, they would find any more hierarchical behavior actually ineffective.

Sample A - Hierarchy - Regional Breakout

Similar data is available for each of the 6 dimensions with also detailed information on the 21 characteristics.  Data is also presented not just by region but also by role.  For instance, a leader can see how his boss, direct reports and peers are rating him/her and how this fits in with their perception of good leadership.

Below is a table which highlights where there is the greatest amount of disagreement of ALL raters with the leader’s style.

disagreements

This wealth of information can provide valuable insights for today’s global executive. This is concrete and practical information based on the feedback from the leader’s own teams.

“Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing.”   Steve Jobs

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Communication, Communication, Communication (aka Leadership made simple)

When a painter considers what to paint there are two primary factors that he/she needs to take into account before beginning to paint on the canvas – form and color.  The approach to these two factors has influenced the style of painting throughout the ages.

Leaders also have two main ingredients with which to work –  Energy and Information.  The latter is so essential, that leadership without communication is unthinkable.

I recently assisted a mid-sized company to address the issue of effective communication at all levels.  This company is a family business in Germany’s Westphalia region which is specialized in the area of technical gases.  Over time, the number of products and services which the company offers has multiplied. As a result, the geographical footprint of where these products and services are sold has also expanded into 6 different countries.  With this much sought after and desired expansion, both the complexity of the business and the challenge of optimizing effective communication throughout the organization have increased.

As with any company, communication is at the heart of co-ordination, effectiveness and efficiency. But how do you go about adressing this key issue?

The first step in the process is to create a collective awareness of the specific issues at hand.  By doing so, the foundation is being established for taking decisive action and implementing concrete measures.  140 managers from across the organization were invited to participate in a 4 hour large group participative dialogue. During this dialogue, they discussed and mutually agreed on the communication issues which are of greatest importance for their work in the company. The following Word Cloud captures the key issues that were discussed.  (FYI – the larger the words, the more importance which was placed on the issue by the managers).

word_cloud_communicationAll of the 140 managers explored these issues together and identified concrete recommendations on how to improve the communication within the company.  The following mind map summarzies the managers’  key recommendations. A detailed data base of the individual entries were used to create this overview. The numbers adjacent to the recommendations record the number of suggestions made in this category.

Blog_Post_Communication

Through this large group dialogue process, the communication issues within the company was made visible to everyone.  The platform to launch a systemic change in the way the company communicates with each other (as well as with clients) has been established. The next step is to prioritize the issues and create working groups of managers throughout the company to put these ideas into action.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”     James J. Hughes

3rd Industrial Revolution and Leadership

Let me start 2013 with a macro view of leadership…

I was in Philadelphia last year as part of the delivery team for one of the acknowledged top leadership development programs in the world – the Philips Octogon program.  It is a program involving 32 selected top performers at Philips.   The program takes place over 8 months in three locations.  The first session was at the Wharton School of Business.

steinberg center

Steinberg Conference Center – Wharton School of Business

Of course I felt quite comfortable coming back to this location.  Back in the 1980s I obtained my MBA at Wharton – one of the more prestigious business schools in the world.

I had the privilege to be able to listen to a presentation by Jeremy Rifkin on the first day of the program.  Mr. Rifkin established the Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET) .  Among many of his activities, he is a valued advisor of heads of state in Europe (including Angela Merkel) and has had very direct impact on European economic policy.  He is the author of the concept of the 3rd Industrial Revolution which is a road map for long-term economic sustainability.  This concept was formally endorsed by the European parliament in 2007.

This concept has fundamental implications for leadership in the 21st century.

His talk began pessimistically enough.  We are in the end phases of the Second Industrial Revolution and the only way out of this dead end is to completely change the fundamental infrastructure on which our current civilization is based.

Each industrial age is characterized by two fundamentals: energy and information.  Mastering a new energy process provides the means to create a new form of information dissemination.  The First Industrial Revolution centered around coal-fired steam-driven power generation.  This new energy regime also enabled the advent of mass produced newspapers and magazines based on steam-powered rotary press and linotype technologies.

The Second Industrial Revolution began with the advent of the internal combustion engine powered by fossil fuels.  This revolution was complimented by a communication revolution based on the creation of an electric grid infrastructure which eventually led to telephone, radio and television.

This Second Industrial Revolution is reaching its limits according to Rifkin.  The most important recent economic occurrence in the past five years is not the financial crisis of 2008, but the rise of oil prices to over 140$ a barrel in 2007.  This rise in the price of oil represents a major threat to the welfare of human society on the planet.  So many of current modern materials are based on fossil fuels (from plastics to fertilizer), that this price has seismic implications for the economy.  Rifkin concludes that the current economy is doomed to limited growth for decades to come.  Every time the price of oil goes over 120 $ a barrel, a new global recession is virtually assured.  The problem is not the amount of fossil fuel available.  There are still plenty of reserves.  The problem is that getting at those reserves is becoming more costly over time.  This limit threatens ALL economies including emerging economies such as China and Brazil.   It is a global phenomenon.

What is the way out?  What are the implications for leadership?  Stay tuned for more….

“One thing I have learned over these last 30 to 40 years is that people make history.  There is no fait accompli in any of this.”         Jeremy Rifkin