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Global Leadership Development: Trends and Issues Research Paper

With the modern realities associated with globalization as well as with the growth of global markets, leaders are greatly challenged by developing an effective leadership strategy for running their organizations. Furthermore, the nature of the challenges leaders face is also changing quickly, even though various leadership methods used for developing effective strategies remain unchanged.

The two consistent topics that relate to the current state of global leadership development are the complexity of the changes and the pace of the changes that occur in the modern environment of leadership. For example, the last ten years have caused many companies in a variety of industries to engage in rapid and effective changes to adapt.

Many experts state that the 2007 recession greatly influenced the speed and the development of the business environment, which became greatly different from the one of ten years before. Roland Smith, the senior faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, stated that modern global CEOs identified one of the primary issues regarding effective leadership – the inability to adapt to the complexity of the modern global business environments (Petrie, 2014, p. 7).

Global Leadership Development Issues

A framework for identifying major issues regarding global leadership is made up of four characteristics of the global leadership environment: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Within the volatile and uncertain environment of global leadership, changes occur quickly, so there is a very little possibility to predict the future of the changes with any certainty. The global environment is complex due to the fact several components influence one’s business and very little can be done to resolve the complications. Lastly, the environment if ambiguous due to the little clarity of the possible events as well as the consequences of these events (Petrie, 2014, p. 7).

Statistics regarding global leadership trends go hand-in-hand with addressing the issues. Leadership skills are one of the most ‘trendy’ talents required for a company employee to have. According to the survey conducted by Canwell, Geller, & Stockton (2015) from the Deloitte University Press, nine out of ten global human resources departments and companies’ leaders mentioned leadership as the most important issue (para. 1). However, only six percent of the surveyed companies stated that their human resources were prepared for the leadership challenges posed by the current business environment. Furthermore, the leadership capability gap has grown exponentially in the last three years with the largest gap in the Middle East (-44) and the biggest gap in the Nordic countries (-30).

The reason behind the leadership gap occurring in companies relates to the fact that many of them do not address the issue of leadership consistently. The process of leaders’ selection is often sporadic; the management selects a small number of employees to promote to leadership positions without caring to invest in training and establishing a unified framework for building and developing strong leadership. Only CEOs receive an adequate level of training, which only slows down the process of development. To further explore the issue of the leadership gap, it is important to identify three components that contribute to it:

Lack of consistent time and funds invested. Because many companies see the development of leadership skills as a short-term goal, the funding of the programs is not included in the yearly budget, for example, if a company invested into it one year, it is most likely that it will not invest into leadership development the next year.

Leadership development training offered to the few employees. Only leaders that are positioned at the very top of the corporate pyramid are properly trained in leadership, while less than ten percent of companies state that they provide effective programs for lower-rank employees.

Weak leadership frameworks. The implemented leadership frameworks can be considered quite low if there is no proper treatment of it as an ongoing and strategic process that can strengthen the company. According to Canwell et al. (2015) study, only thirty-two percent of companies maintain a consistent supply of leaders in high positions (para. 5).

Therefore, the current need for developing a concise leadership development strategy to address the above-mentioned challenges. The fact that the global leadership environment is volatile and complex does not contribute well to the company’s ability to effectively train new leaders that become the basis for growth. According to The Conference Board (2014) Global Leadership Forecast, only twenty-five percent of human resource professionals consider their organization’s leaders as high quality (p. 6).

Therefore, there are only a fraction of companies that treat the issues associated with leadership seriously. The lack of investments into leadership training for lower-ranked employees is one of the issues that can be resolved with additional funding; however, the main solution is in starting regarding global leadership as one of the primary goals for success. Paying attention to what employees regard as effective leadership as well as consistently trying to improve the current leadership frameworks is what will add value to the business despite its scale.

Global leadership development trends are closely linked to the issues that have already been identified. To address the lack of cohesive leadership strategies, a series of trends emerged. For example, to deal with the leadership development issue of only high-level employees being trained in leadership strategies, a trend of broadening the leadership development emerged. Apart from engaging globally-renowned leaders into the training programs, it is now common for some corporation to engage lower-ranked workers into the programs to broaden the reach and achieve effectiveness on every level (George, 2012, para. 5).

The trend of diversification is also high in the global leadership development agenda due to the diversification of the business environment in general. One example of the diversification trend is given by Bill George (2012) in the Harvard Business Review article. The author mentions that over the last ten years Swiss corporations Novartis and Nestle changed their predominantly Swiss board to include more professionals of different nationalities (para. 4). Eighty percent of Novartis’ leadership board consists of representatives that came outside the country while Nestle includes executives of ten various nationalities.

To address the lack of funding that goes towards training employees in organizations, smaller companies start making larger investments. Since emerging companies see effective leadership as the most important aspect of their success, the management tries to find funds for coaching and the involvement of successful leaders in the process of training. According to Alison Brattle (2015), smaller companies see great improvements once they start investing in leadership development training (para. 2).

Another global leadership development trend relates to developing global leaders as soon as possible. As mentioned in the Forbes article by Joseph Folkman (2014), the average starting age for company-trained emerging leaders is forty-two (para. 6). Therefore, there is a trend for companies to start investing time and effort in training leaders earlier than forty so that they have more time in their careers to develop leadership skills and implement them in their practice.

The trend of training technologically savvy leaders is tightly linked to the globalization processes that call for new technological advances in any sphere of business or overall human relations. Even though the majority of the company’s executives are not responsible for developing new technological systems themselves, they are required to have enough skills to apply these systems into their daily practice for achieving set goals. Also, young leaders that have been raised with technology see the advances as a key to success. Thus, companies should understand how technologies can be integrated into the leadership practice as well as how leaders can promote the usage of technologies on every level in an organization (Goldsmith, Greenberg, Robertson, & Hu-Chan, 2003, p. 3).

Lastly, it is important to mention the trend of building partnerships and alliances between companies to share knowledge regarding global leadership development. The ability of executives to successfully negotiate and form global alliances is the skill that is required for leaders to guide the company towards success. Additionally, joint leadership over a developed business model can become one of the most effective strategies regarding the venture’s success. Since globalization calls for diversification and collaboration, the development of global partnerships is what can contribute to the win-win framework between the allies.

Apart from the practical implementation of modern leadership development trends, the issues associated with the topic have also been explored in the theoretical literature. For instance, Storey (2016) outlined the process which took for modern leadership trends to develop. Starting from the ‘great man theories’ and the innate qualities theories that originated in the twentieth century and ending with the multi-level, temporal and process theories of the recent two years, the trends regarding leadership have come a long way (p. 33). Therefore, the changing theoretical frameworks regarding leadership directly coincide with the volatility and complexity of the global business environment.


To conclude the exploration of global leadership development, it can be outlined that current trends directly coincide with the issues that exist within the global leadership environment. The lack of consecutive funding, as well as effective leadership frameworks, is addressed through investing in training as well as the involvement of new leadership partners that will provide a new vision on how leadership can be developed. The trend of diversification is also high in the global leadership agenda since the business environment has become largely diversified.

The trend of technological advances in leadership strategies has also been one of the most defining of the global leadership environment. Even though most leaders are not responsible for developing the technological strategies, they are required to be aware of the recent advances to implement them in favor of their business. Lastly, due to the complexity and the volatility of the global business, there is a trend of training leaders as soon as possible because the average age for leadership training is forty-two.


Brattle, A. (2015). .

Canwell, A., Geller, J., & Stockton, H. (2015).

Folkman, J. (2014). .

George, B. (2012). .

Goldsmith, M., Greenberg, C., Robertson, A., & Hu-Chan, M. (2003). Global leadership: The next generation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Petrie, N. (2014). Future trends in leadership development.

Storey, J. (2016). Leadership in organizations: Current issues and key trends. New York, NY: Routledge.

The Conference Board. (2014). .

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