Leadership and management development factsheet

A factsheet on strategies for leadership and management development is now available as part of Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit. Download your free copy.

Global Mobility Toolkit: Leadership and management development
The first components in Relocate Global’s new online mobility toolkit, which provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas, are now available to download.
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet
The content of the Leadership and Management Development Strategies factsheet – part of the Talent and Career Management Toolkit – includes:
  • Global leadership development
  • The aims of global leadership and management development programmes
  • Expatriation as a means of developing global leaders and managers
  • Alternatives to expatriation
  • Limitations of developing global leaders and managers
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading
To keep up to date with best practice, and to gain strategic insight and operational know-how, download your free copy today.


Global leadership development

The requirement for leaders and managers to possess global vision and understanding has never been more critical to organisational success than in today’s ever-globalising world. Even domestic-based organisations need their leaders and managers to have cross-cultural and international business understanding, so they can manage diversity and handle business transactions. In fact, developing cross-cultural leadership competencies has been identified as one of the top requirements for business effectiveness.Much of the research into global leadership has focused on the role of expatriation in developing international awareness and cross-cultural competencies. Of course, there is a strong argument that, to gain an in-depth understanding of global practices, there is nothing better than having been there and engaged directly in international activities.However, the development of global leadership and management can be supported via other human-resource development interventions. For example, expatriation may not be feasible if the organisation does not have any international operations or the individual is unable, or unwilling, to relocate.The critical point is that, for global leadership and management development to be successful, interventions are required that stretch the capability of an individual to see and operate beyond a purely domestic perspective.

Expatriation as a means of developing global leaders and managers

Many global leadership and management development programmes are designed to give participants the opportunity to live and work abroad as expatriates. This may involve a series of short-term postings to different countries and cultures as part of a relatively lengthy development programme – for example, a series of six- to nine-month short-term assignments over a period of two or three years.An alternative approach is a single long-term expatriate assignment to a principal operating subsidiary, or to the headquarters if the individual is subsidiary-based.International business trips/frequent-flyer mobility can also give individuals some exposure to global business activities. Other options include commuter assignments, rotational assignments and short-term assignments.Research has shown that cross-cultural competence is embedded more deeply when assignees undertake long-term assignments. Long-term expatriation gives sufficient time for individuals to adapt, overcome culture shock, and become more effective in their day-to-day management duties. Because of this, lengthy expatriate assignments have become synonymous with career development leading to top-level global opportunities. However, there is also research that shows that expatriate assignments cannot guarantee top leadership positions. Coupled with the expense of long-term expatriation, it is therefore now becoming increasingly popular for organisations to use a mix of different assignment approaches to build global leadership and management competencies. Thus, individuals may gain international experience via ‘flexpatriation’, including short-term, commuter and frequent-flyer-style international mobility. 

Limitations of developing global leaders and managers

Since not everyone will be suited to a global leadership/management role, it is important to ensure that participants are identified carefully. Individual aptitude, knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as values and personality, will need to be assessed. Expatriate and/or flexpatriate opportunities – as well as alternatives to global mobility – must be matched to appropriately selected individuals.International mobility is expensive. It is also time-consuming in terms of the period needed to become cross-culturally competent. Undertaking the development of leaders and managers via expatriation and/or flexpatriation therefore presents risk, in that the investment needed is likely to take a long time to give full payback.Organisations should therefore take steps to ensure that they retain high-potential talent. Close attention to repatriation is essential if global leaders and managers are to deliver the benefits of their development programmes to the organisation that supported and funded them.Organisations must take care to ensure that the talent whose development they have supported is not attracted to work for competitors. 
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet
Also in the Talent and Career Management Toolkit Available now:Coming soon:
  • Management and Leadership Training
  • Networks, Mentors and Role Models
  • Graduate and Management Development Programmes
  • Managing Careers Across Generations
  • Self Initiated Mobility

For a full list of Global Mobility Toolkit components, and to download your free resources, visit our Global Mobility Toolkit Resource Centre page.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, call Fiona Murchie, managing editor, on +44 (0)1892 891334, or email  A range of aligned products and resources will be available from the new Relocate Global e-commerce store, coming later this year.

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