Leading across Borders: Using Data to Inform a Global Workforce

There’s no denying that, in ways both personal and professional, we are more globally connected than ever. In fact, the flow of information internationally has increased more than 250% since 2001, according to the 2018 DHL Global Connectedness Index.

Many of us also hold stereotypes about different countries. Some common stereotypes are accurate but at least as many are inaccurate. So how do we know which is which? Stereotypes are based on experience, whether it is our own or something we hear from others. However, an individual can only collect a limited amount of data on any particular group.

To gain a more accurate understanding of how people – leaders in this case – behave, we need to rely on large sets of data that accumulate the experiences of many different individuals. To this end, MRG recently conducted a study of 144,665 leaders working in 18 different countries to determine how much countries really differ in their overall leadership practices.

Not surprisingly, Canada and the United States were more similar to one another than they were to any of the other 16 countries in this research. Similarly, Spain and France were more similar to one another than to any of the other 16 countries. However, the research also revealed that Switzerland is more similar in its leadership practices to Brazil than it is to Germany. This may surprise some of us who assume that geographic proximity is more important that other factors.

What does this mean for coaching? As more and more leaders find themselves working internationally and developing professional relationships that cross borders, coaches need to make a greater effort to understand variations in leadership effectiveness around the world. This is critical both for support leaders in developing the behaviors that are most relevant where they work, and to support them as they navigate the sometimes choppy waters of a global business environment.

Findings like these, which take advantage of the experiences of many different individuals around the world, will continue to help us identify real differences in leadership practices, facilitate our global interactions, and maybe even make us think twice before we make any assumptions.

For the complete study, download the whitepaper Think Globally: Variations in Effective Leadership around the World here.

About the author

Maria is Head of Research at MRG. She loves a challenge and often gets a little too excited about running new studies. She finds peace and balance by cooking (as long as her husband is doing the cleaning) or being anywhere near the ocean.

Connect on LinkedIn

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments