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.


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


Global6 – Assessing Leadership in a Global Context – Part 1

What is considered good leadership practice  in Germany may not be considered good leadership in Japan or may need some modifications when dealing with US Americans.  Intercultural differences have been the subject of much study since the 1950s.  I have always been fascinated by the insights derived from these studies given that I am thoroughly multicultural person myself.

As an aside – I was born in Panama, raised in Mexico, and studied in the US and Germany. My mother’s side of the family is French, my father’s US American. I have worked in Mexico, US, France, Belgium and Germany.  My work as a strategy and leadership consultant over the past twenty years has taken me to – at latest count – 30 different countries.  I truly think of myself as a World Citizen.

My first encounter with the intercultural literature was reading Edward T Hall – considered the founding father of intercultural communication as an academic field of study.  During the 1950s he worked for the US State Department,  teaching inter-cultural communications skills to foreign service personnel.  He came up with the concept of low-context versus high-context cultures – a concept still much in use today.  Low-context cultures such as the Germanic culture transmit information explicitly – i.e. through language and tangible information.  High-context cultures such as the Japanese culture transmit messages implicitly – the context, the body language and other non-verbal clues provide the information.  A spoken ‘Yes’ does not necessarily mean ‘Yes’ – it depends on the context.

The Three H’s of Intercultural Communication – Hall, Hofstede and House

edwardthall_1993Hofstede house_robert_rdax_192x226

Obviously leadership in these very different cultural environments needs to take on different forms.  Ever since Edward T. Hall various further attempts have been made to codify the differences between cultures.  As our economy has become more global, understanding how to navigate in these diverse waters and currents of culture has received increasing attention from both public and private sector leaders.

In the 1970’s Geert Hofstede significantly expanded the framework from which to look at different national and organizational cultures.  Using survey data from over 100.000 individuals from over 40 countries, he developed a model composed of 5 different dimensions of culture.  It was a great honor in the year 2004 to have Geert Hofstede talk at a Forum which was organized by my colleague Ted Baartmans and me in Maastricht.

This work has been continued through further studies.  The most recent and comprehensive being the GLOBE Study led by Robert House, professor at Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania.  The GLOBE study included 170 countries and established 9 cultural dimensions.  I was also very fortunate to be present in London in 2011 when he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association.

Yet despite all of this information, how can business leaders truly know how to change and adapt their style globally?

This week I had the privilege to be one of  the first people to be certified in the brand new 360° instrument – Global 6 created by the Center for Creative Leadership. It is the first instrument I am aware of that provides business leaders with practical information directly from the people they work with.   It gives them pragmatic advice on how they need to adapt their leadership style globally.  In my next blog I will explain how this instrument works.

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.”  Margaret Mead