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Develop leaders globally to work as one team

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As someone who has worked across many continents over the years, and has brought my unique, yet much loved Yorkshire straight talking to global organisations, I have recently been asked my opinion on leadership development trends for International businesses.

After having a ponder on this and reflecting on the work we do with our international clients I felt compelled to share my findings – so here they are… 

As globalisation continues to rise, one of the greatest challenges facing many multinationals is how to standardise leadership competences and corporate values worldwide. Many global learning and development teams grapple with the benefit of delivering a consistent global leadership programme versus buying separate training courses piecemeal from different providers in different markets.  

Creating a common language and having consistency of messaging is so important when it comes to having cohesive collaborative leadership teams, across different parts of the world, and this is often at risk when each of those business units have teams grounded on different training programmes.

The key comes in having a clear vision at board level on how to develop the business’s leaders to support their overall culture and build it into everyday leadership and management behaviour, across the different global sites.

When developing any international leadership development programme the main challenge comes in how to choose content that complements the language and culture of business as a whole, and ensures the learning is understood and applicable globally. Gaining insights in the business and co-creating the approach also goes a long way, as does;

  • Being clear on the vision and values helps to deliver a common language
  • Starting at the top and engaging with as many senior stakeholders as possible 
  • Delivering the training to the senior team first, then cascading it across regions, countries and business units
  • Where this isn’t possible, working with early adopters and getting going, rather than aiming for a perfect, more traditional roll-out from the top.

With over 20 years in leadership development and a track record in shifting behaviour and making that stick,  we know how to overcome cultural boundaries and focus on the fact that no matter where you are in the world managers who engage their teams get better results, better retention and build greater trust and engagement. They do this by getting the basics right and these basics have no language, cultural or organisation barriers. 

  • Some of the elements we would look at with the design of such a  programme include:- 
  • The power of simple habits – ‘hard-wiring’ some regular rhythm and routine to management tasks
  • Great communication skills of listening to understand, asking questions and being straightforward with requests
  • Giving appreciative feedback
  • Creating a continuous improvement culture with constructive feedback
  • Being curious and asking questions, rather than judging
  • Regular 1 to 1’s with every team member

Once the programme has been developed the next task is to find a way to deliver the training consistently across the globe.  In some instances this requires finding Associates who can help us to deliver the training around the world, in their language.  Reaching out to our network, we often secure local trainers in the countries of the client’s premises to help deliver our vision. They usually start by participating in the programme and helping with any local language nuances, then attend a train the trainer or co-deliver, and finally take over the programme completely.  We often refer to this as see, co, do.

It is key when creating training for global organisations that there is confidence within, so we like to train internal facilitators who then go on to deliver future programmes as well.  Line Managers are identified to support the programme in many ways. Sometimes acting as coaches, sometimes acting as ambassadors for the programme,  and Nudge support this through on-line training and webinar coach the coach sessions. The internal team then takes on the vital role of ensuring all participants undertake any additional e-learning modules. It is all about facilitating ways for our training to be implemented across the business, across the globe, but led by ‘on board’ leaders who have experienced our training first hand.

On reflection when looking at this are there really key differentiators for delivering leadership development programmes globally? If I had to say the one thing that stands out I think it would be the importance of not getting bogged down by the different cultures too much – controversial as this sounds – but the secret is in delivering a consistent approach, establishing a common language and behaviours, to create a culture that reflects the business’s values as a whole, not getting overwhelmed or diverted by each different country’s varying circumstances.

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