Talent Management for the Next Generation of Leaders

Recommendations from 25 Chief Talent and Learning Officers for companies wishing to build their next generation of global leaders.

“What are your biggest challenges in developing your next generation of global leaders?” was the question I raised to 25 Chief Talent and Learning Officers (CTLOs) of top-tier organizations from 25 different business sectors in April 2015.

As Chief Talent and Learning Officers, these leaders set the learning policies for millions of employees. A fundamental belief of these CTLOs is that the greatest amount of learning by individuals in organizations is from experience. In fact, many quoted a finding by Morgan McCall in High Flyers that 70 percent of learning is from experience, 20 percent is from co-workers, and only 10 percent is from traditional training and development programs. 

A second key piece of research from the i4cp and SHRM Report on Global Leadership revealed that companies that have a distinct global leadership curriculum are more profitable than those that simply integrate global leadership training as a part of their general leadership training. 

A final piece of research from INSEAD’s Hal Gregersen was that 50 percent of expats will leave their organizations within a year of returning home. However, this number is reduced to 25 percent if the expatriate and family receive repatriation training upon returning home. And the number of expats leaving their companies is reduced to 10 percent when repatriate training begins prior to the families’ return home. 

Research by Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen in the Innovators’ DNA demonstrates that expats are responsible for 35 percent more innovations than comparable employees who did not have an international assignment. 

Based on this research and the collective wisdom of these 25 leaders, here are the recommendations for companies wishing to build their next generation of global leaders: 

1. Training and development organizations must undertake to create long- and short-term international assignments in which their future leaders will be immersed in another culture. This experience is one of the most critical aspects for learning the humility, vulnerability, and need to see the world from multiple perspectives. 

2. The international immersion program should begin early in the careers of the next generation of global leaders. Many organizations such as PwC, BD, and Merck have created intricate global immersion programs for high-potential young leaders to experience working and living in unfamiliar settings. 

3. Sending people of any age overseas without proper training and development is a waste of time and money and likely will result in the early termination of the assignment or the employee leaving the company. International assignees and their receiving hosts must develop realistic expectations of roles, responsibilities, timelines, and metrics for success. The receiving manager and team must receive cultural training to help bridge any misunderstandings. Alignment meetings and coaching should occur at regular intervals during the assignment. 

4. An international immersion experience must contain a Continuous Contact process that assures communication between the assignee and the leaders in their home country. Otherwise, there is a good chance the organization will lose this muchvalued resource shortly after he or she returns home or even while still on international assignment. 

5. Repatriation training for the entire family is an essential part of any successful international assignment. Few organizations or expat families realize the unexpected stress associated with returning “home.” 

6. Unconscious bias can seriously affect the selection of international assignment candidates. 

Those involved in the selection process must be trained to be aware of their hidden biases, which will cause them to select people more like themselves. If you are in the process of developing or implementing a global leadership program for new leaders, send me a note at ngoodman@globaldynamics. com about what you are doing, so it might be included in a future Best Practices column.

Neal Goodman, Ph.D., is president of Global Dynamics, Inc., a training and development firm specializing in globalization, cultural intelligence, effective virtual workplaces, and diversity and inclusion. He can be reached at 305.682.7883 and at ngoodman@global-dynamics.com. For more information, visit http://www.global-dynamics.com.

Dr. Neal Goodman is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, and coach on DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion), global leadership, global mindset, and cultural intelligence. Organizations based on four continents seek his guidance to build and sustain their global and multicultural success. He is CEO of the Neal Goodman Group and can be reached at: Neal@NealGoodmanGroup.com. Dr. Goodman is the founder and former CEO of Global Dynamics Inc.