Necessary Global Leadership Skills

In recent years it has become clear leaders must begin to think from a global mindset in order to maintain effectiveness. The global village is becoming smaller all the time, and leadership is needed in increasing amounts; however, if leaders remain solely focused locally and ineffective on the global stage, they will find themselves increasingly ineffective.

The overall challenge is to lead a diverse group of people from multiple cultures. Leaders must adopt a global mindset that equips them to be effective. A global mindset is the “ability to influence individuals, groups, organizations, and systems that have different intellectual, social, and psychological knowledge or intelligence from [their] own.” (Cohen, 2010, p. 5) It is this mindset that allows a leader to lead through cultural differences, regardless of the complexity of the differences. A global mindset allows the leader to have openness to cultural differences while also having the ability to synthesize people across diversities. (Cohen, 2010, p. 6)

According to a study by Goldsmith, a diverse group of individuals from 200 organizations globally listed five overall clusters of skills for a global leader: thinking globally, appreciating cultural diversity, developing technological savvy, building partnerships and alliances, and sharing leadership. (Goldsmith, 2003) It was also identified that these skills did not replace other necessary leadership skills, but were in addition to those skills. (Cohen, 2010, p. 6)

With the additional skills, the global mindset also requires the balance of three dichotomies: global formalization vs. local flexibility, global standardization vs. local customization, and global dictate vs. local delegation. (Cohen, 2010, p. 7) Global diversity pushes leaders to be flexible in their leadership approaches, keeping an open mind and a full toolbox of skills.

In global diversity, is it necessary for leadership to be proficient in multiple leadership styles rather than just one?


Goldsmith, M., Greenberg, C., Robertson, A., & Hu-Chan, M. (2003). Global Leadership: The Next Generation (1 edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.

Stephen L. Cohen. (2010). Effective global leadership requires a global mindset. Industrial and Commercial Training, 42(1), 3–10.

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