The Essential Key for Global Leaders is Global Intelligence - Igor Poza

Point of View
3 min readMar 21, 2022

As companies are expanding their businesses globally, the demand for true global leaders is significantly increasing. Successfully leading a global business is a challenging task that requires a specific understanding of how to align employees and their cultural differences with the company’s missions and values.

I recently read two insightful books about leadership: The Heart of Business by Hubert Joly and Discover Your True North by Bill George. Together, the two books provide a perfect guide for a successful leadership journey. After reflecting on the contents and evaluating how leadership models have changed, it further allowed me to value the importance of “global intelligence’ in a business setting.

How could you empower someone if your vision is so narrow? As a leader, you need to maximize your capabilities. Leadership styles have significantly changed over the past few years and leaders are quickly learning how to effectively manage their companies. In an interview with Hubert Joly, he explains why vulnerability is so important for those in the C-Suite. In the old leadership model, leaders were thought of “as a super-hero, who saves the day, who is smart (‘the smartest person in the room’), and who is probably driven by power, fame, glory, and money.” That style of leadership with extrinsic motivation has proven to be flawed — unmotivated employees, high turnover, inability for sustained success, etc. Today’s business calls for leaders who are intimate and authentic. Joly attributes his company, Best Buy’s, rise to success to “setting the tone of vulnerability and improvement.” When leaders lead with purpose and humanity, it creates genuine human connections and inspires employees to be more confident in their decisions and actions.

When global leaders lack leadership qualities, it is because they lack global intelligence. In an article written by Bill George, he outlines 7 elements that make up global intelligence all of which are essential for global leaders:

  1. Adaptability to a changing world
  2. Self-awareness
  3. Cultural curiosity
  4. Empathy
  5. Alignment
  6. Collaboration
  7. Integration

Today’s world is rapidly changing, and leaders need to understand how to respond, “by shifting resources to opportunity areas and developing contingency plans to cope with adverse geopolitical situations.” While operating in different cultures, a leader needs to be self-aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, and biases. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but often other cultures have better ways of doing things in their cultural norms. In addition to being accepting of cultural differences, global leaders need to have a strong desire to learn about what other cultures have to offer. With the consequences of the pandemic negatively impacting society, empathy in leadership is important now more than ever. Aligning employees around the company’s mission helps unify the workforce, despite the differing cultural values they might have. Rather than managing the company vertically, leaders need to create horizontal networks. Especially in a global environment, collaboration across all geographic lines is necessary to unite people around common goals.

Overall, leaders who have high global intelligence have created sustained competitive advantages for their companies and have generated consistent, superior performance. Famous global business leaders such as Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Jack Ma of Alibaba, and Paul Polman of Unilever have found immense success in their leadership journeys by following the styles mentioned in this article.

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