DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING A GLOBAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: THE SIX C S

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1 { perspectives } DESIGN AND DELIVERY DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING A GLOBAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: THE SIX C S BY IAN FANTON AND ERIC MANKIN Are your leaders poised to capitalize on growth opportunities around the world? Here s how to get them ready.

2 The Six C s > Context > Content > Culture > Cohort > Communication > Connectivity

3 More than ever, executives are asking their learning and development teams to create or enhance programs that bring together leaders from around the world. In some cases, they want to implement major transformation initiatives. Other times, they are looking to ensure alignment and build consistent skill sets throughout the company s global workforce. The move toward globalized learning mirrors the shift to globalized workforces over the past 15 years. According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S.-based multinationals have reduced their workforces in the U.S. by over three million employees since 1999, while adding almost the same number of new employees outside of the U.S. These new hires are eager to have an impact, and they expect their companies will provide a steady stream of learning opportunities. Most companies are working to launch or redesign leadership development programs that best fit the increasingly global nature of their businesses. If you haven t already been struggling with this, it s only a matter of time. The stakes are high, and new markets are competitive and change continuously. Plus, growth is often coming in regions far from headquarters. You know a fresh approach to development is needed, but where should you begin? U.S.-based multinationals have reduced their U.S. workforces by three million since 1999, while adding nearly the same number outside of the U.S. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL We have worked with more than 100 large global companies to design and deliver global leadership development programs spanning more than 65 countries. Based on these experiences, we believe you need to consider the six C s Context, Content, Culture, Cohort, Communication, and Connectivity. These C s will help you define a leadership development program that will help your organization achieve its global business goals. MULTINATIONALS MOVE JOBS ABROAD In 1980 just 21% of global corporate revenue came from the emerging world; by 2013 that had almost doubled, to 41%. By 2010 nearly half the revenues of the S&P 500 came from outside of the United States. Multinational companies reduced their U.S. employment by 875,000 from 1999 through 2012, while adding 4.2 million jobs abroad. Sources: McKinsey Global Institute, from The Future and How to Survive It, Harvard Business Review, October 2015; U.S. Commerce Department s Bureau of Economic Analysis HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING { 1 }

4 The Design C s CONTEXT What is the right context for your program? Program design must begin with the business context. This is especially important for global programs, as there must be a balance between global business goals and requirements and more varied regional business dynamics and practices. Detailing the business context up front and embedding that into the program design will help drive interest and engagement among participants, and help ensure strong outcomes. If you globalize the content of the program too much, you run the risk of making it so bland and generic that it fails to resonate with learners. On the other hand, regional programs have their own challenges. In a multinational corporation, you still need to contextualize the program with content from other regions so that participants can see how their contributions fit into the big, global picture. For example, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has developed and launched a global learning management system that is helping the company customize its learning programs to cultivate talent across diverse regions and business units. The system supports company-wide leadership practices but presents them in context customized for leaders in various regions. One of the great benefits of a global program is the differing perspectives that participants and internal leaders who present bring to it with their own realworld examples. Whether it s a reaction to a case or telling a story from their own experience, sharing different perspectives will help build the global mindset that companies need. CONTENT What is the right content for your global leadership development program? Your audience is highly time-constrained. If you give them too much content, they won t be able to process it. The content also has to be relevant and of the highest quality. Everyone learns in different ways, so consider varying the kinds of content in your program ranging from short cases to videos to articles to simulations. We find that experiential learning is often very effective. In our Change Management simulation, for example, a learner plays the role of director of procurement and assembles a coalition to make a change in her company s supply chain. The lessons around leading change and building coalitions are much more memorable when they come from decisions that a learner makes herself. The most appropriate content mix for a global leadership development program will be different for every company and will be strongly influenced by the business challenges you face globally and locally. Figuring out the right proportions is always a balancing act. { 2 } HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING

5 CULTURE How much should local/regional culture influence the design and implementation of your program? You need to decide how much consistency you want across your company s leadership development program. Should different regions use identical programs or do you want to tailor the development program to fit regional cultural differences? As we ve worked across regions, we ve found that participants from different cultures may approach programs in different ways. For instance, cultures that are often very vocal and enthusiastic can sometimes dominate discussions in face-to-face or virtual formats. By contrast, other participants may be more reticent to raise their (virtual or real) hands to speak up, but may be more willing to consider an idea and then make valuable written contributions using chat tools. Providing multiple ways for participants to interact with the material and one another allows participants from different cultures to choose the method in which they feel most comfortable making contributions and sharing their ideas with peers. IMPLEMENTING A LANGUAGE STRATEGY Tsedal Neeley, associate professor at Harvard Business School, has long emphasized that language strategy is critical for global talent management, and that companies make language and cultural skills a factor in hiring, training, assessing, and promoting talent. Once your firm has adopted a language strategy, how can you help your global employees acquire the language skills they need to communicate effectively and persuasively with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders? In a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, Neeley and former Harvard Business School associate dean Robert Steven Kaplan offer three suggestions Require training for all nonnative speakers who have not yet achieved desired fluency in your chosen language(s). The authors note that employees don t need the 15,000-word vocabulary of a native speaker. A working knowledge of around 3,500 words should allow them to understand and be understood in most business contexts. Provide all-expenses-paid courses for language training to convey the high value the company places on proficiency. Employees are more likely to invest their own time and energy in language study if they can see that this investment will improve their marketable skills. Demonstrate it is a priority by holding training courses on-site during the workday. If you don t ask employees to learn new software at home on their own time, Neeley and Kaplan say you should not expect them to study the required language that way. Source: Tsedal Neeley and Robert Steven Kaplan, What s Your Language Strategy?, Harvard Business Review HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING { 3 }

6 The Implementation C s COHORT What is the best cohort of learners to participate in your global leadership development program? Cohorts are vital to the success of a global leadership development program. The best programs encourage participants to learn, study, and work together, thus creating a kind of mutual accountability that leads to more active, engaged learners. Senior executive and high-potential programs offer a great opportunity to bring together a diverse global cohort of leaders. If you want to develop junior managers, it makes sense to focus more heavily on the local or regional issues that these managers tend to deal with on a daily basis. Goodyear offers leadership development programs within each of its four regions. These programs share core learning objectives, but the application and approach are customized based on the regional market and customer context. Once participants reach the executive level, they transition into a global leadership development program. Keep in mind that truly global cohorts come with their own sets of challenges. For these programs, it can be valuable to have at least one face-to-face event where participants can meet and form connections with one another. Naturally, coordinating and finding the best location for such an event can be challenging when people are arriving from all over the world. Timing can be an issue even with virtual programs when the cohort includes participants from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. In these cases, it s likely that some participants will need to join at 6 a.m., while others will have to stay up until 11 p.m. to participate. This challenge is not insurmountable, but you will need to think carefully about your company s culture to figure out what times work best. In some companies, people in North America are accustomed to getting up early to accommodate their European and Asian colleagues. In other organizations, executives in Asia regularly work until 10 p.m. or later to match the schedules of their peers in the Americas. Consider splitting up a global cohort into two groups by region so that meeting times can be convenient for each. If that s not possible, vary meeting times throughout the program so one or two geographies are not always bearing the burden of an awkward time slot. Most companies understand that in a global economy much of their future growth will be in emerging markets. And because talent isn t as portable as we once thought... companies need leaders who know and are from those markets. LINDA HILL, WHERE WILL WE FIND TOMORROW S LEADERS: A CONVERSATION WITH LINDA A. HILL, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW { 4 } HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING

7 COMMUNICATION Should you standardize the language of communication among leaders to facilitate their development? For most multinational companies, choosing a single language of communication is critical to their success. And for most companies, the language of business will probably be English. Professor Neeley at Harvard Business School has argued for the importance of a lingua franca to help create a consistent culture across an organization s many locations. SIDEBAR PAGE 3 On the other hand, there are situations in which companies may be able to run leadership development programs in the local language. For instance, a retailer might be able to deliver leadership development programs in Spanish in Latin America where senior managers might not need to have a strong command of English. In other cases, companies may wish to explore the possibility of conducting the training in English, but providing preparatory materials ahead of time in the participants native languages. Keeping those time constraints in mind, participants simply may not have the capacity to read and digest necessary background materials in a nonnative language. Providing these materials in multiple languages improves the odds that participants are comfortably prepared to participate fully in the discussions, simulations, or other collaborative and active exercises at the heart of your program. CONNECTIVITY How can you promote maximum connectivity among learners to facilitate learning and collaboration? When it comes to implementing your global leadership development program, consider your company s technological capabilities. For instance, will participants in the program use laptops with embedded video cameras that enable them to interact with one another using multi-video formats? If not, should the expert be broadcast on video with participants providing feedback through a lower bandwidth channel, such as instant messaging? For example, the African partners of a global professional services firm used the telephone to communicate during program sessions because their Internet connections were not strong enough to facilitate video chat. Employees who regularly use videoconferencing systems to conduct day-to-day operations have a level of comfort with that technology. This makes it an appropriate platform for delivering highly interactive leadership development programs on a global level. But videoconferencing might not be the best solution for a program at a company not already familiar and comfortable with that technology. Remember that a global leadership development program is neither the time nor the place to pilot new technological tools. If your learners cannot work on the platform you choose, the program will not succeed no matter how good the rest of the experience is. HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING { 5 }

8 harvardbusiness.org How to Begin Designing and implementing a global leadership development program can seem like a daunting, even overwhelming task. Start by defining what business outcomes you need to achieve and how the program can help with those objectives. Then, conceptualize the design of the program: figure out what content to include, the balance between global and local context, and the best way to ensure robust participation and engagement by participants from different cultures. Next you can move on to the tactical issues around program implementation, including choosing the appropriate cohort and managing the logistical details of bringing participants together from picking the most appropriate technology to deliver the program to deciding how leaders will communicate with one another. With proper consideration of these design and tactical questions, you can deliver a global leadership development program that matches the needs, capabilities, and culture of your organization, and positions your company to meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly globalized business world. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ian Fanton Vice President, Product Management Harvard Business Publishing Ian Fanton is vice president of product management for Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing. In this role, Ian leads the team responsible for the strategy, business performance, category management, and market awareness of all of Harvard Business Publishing s product offerings. Prior to assuming this role, Ian led global sales, learning solutions, and marketing for Corporate Learning, where he was responsible for expanding the global reach and impact of Harvard Business Publishing s Corporate Learning business. Ian previously worked in executive and corporate education for Boston University and in sales and marketing for the Boston Red Sox. Eric Mankin Director, Global Delivery Harvard Business Publishing Eric Mankin is a director of global delivery in the Corporate Learning group at Harvard Business Publishing. He is responsible for the development and delivery of virtual executive education programs to executives and leaders worldwide. His work with clients has been recognized with several gold Learning in Practice awards given annually by CLO magazine. Eric brings over 25 years of experience in professional services and entrepreneurship to his work at Harvard Business Publishing. Prior to joining, Eric was the executive director of the Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship Research Center at Babson College s School of Executive Education. He also worked with the city of Boston to design and implement its innovative Hubway bike-sharing program, which expanded to New York in MC Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

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