Barriers to Successful Global Leadership

15796831-yellow-and-black-concrete-barriers-blocking-the-road-on-whiteRecently, I was doing some research on how global organizations operate effectively, and I came across an article by Kevan Hall of Global Integration.  He has identified 5 barriers to successful global leadership, and I found myself intrigued by the 5 areas he chose.

If you work internationally, you will understand this.  If you work for an organization that has international offices or partners, you need to understand these barriers.

The 5 areas defined are his.  I will add comments to his after each one:


When people can’t work face to face, it’s difficult.  Think about all of the non-verbal messages we send on a regular basis.  When people are spread out, you may only see them face-to-face once or twice a year, or longer.  It’s hard to build a relationship without the personal time. It’s hard to manage trust when you never spend time together.


This is easy to see and identify, but it causes misunderstandings and frustration when we don’t deal with it.  Become a student of culture.  No matter where you are, learn about the culture of the people you’re working with.  Be flexible with others culturally. Don’t rush to decisions. Be confident of your culture, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own.


We talk about how small the world is getting because of technology, but we also don’t use technology to the best of our ability.  You need to master the technology that’s available to you.  Use it to nurture relationship.  The problem with technology is that often we can’t see or hear what’s really going on.  We can’t tell if people are disengaged, because they’re responding to e-mails or even attending a webinar. Invest in technology.  Find what works best for you and for the people you’re trying to communicate with.  This is important!


Our organization looks different from different views.  It’s difficult to manage people who you don’t interact with personally.  Our “norms” have changed.  We used to work our way up the ladder by working hard and staying close to our boss.  When there’s distance, that is difficult.  Leaders need to develop skills to manage virtually.  The organization needs to understand the challenges.


Time zones are fixed, so there’s nothing you can do to avoid it.  It’s frustrating when you need an answer to something, and the person you need to talk to is in bed!  This creates frustration and it delay’s the decision-making process.  It also provides some opportunity to have people work on issues for 24 hours a day, but this has to be managed.  The first step is in simply taking the time to learn when people are up and when they’re available.  Don’t assume that if you’re up, everyone else is ready!


These 5 things have been identified as BARRIERS.  A barrier is an obstacle that prevents fluid movement or access.  Barriers can be moved.  Take some time to think about these 5 Barriers and how they are affecting you.  What can you do to address these, communicate the issues, and successfully MOVE the barriers, leading to increased productivity and effectiveness?

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