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With the advent of globalization, geographical boundaries are slowly vanishing and the world is being transformed into a technology-enhanced marketplace. There are many changes in the workplace: a constantly changing environment of shared leadership; focus on teams dispersed geographically and mobile; constant innovation; and increasing diversity. Managers in these circumstances require more skills to cope with the changing times. Traditionally, the job of every manager involves what is known as the functions of management: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. The managers belonging to the old school were either general managers or functional specialists. They are no longer adequate in today’s environment.
Today, managers need to be well informed leaders – individuals who can discuss operational issues with an employee on the line and a few hours later, discuss corporate strategy with the board of directors. Regarding the role of the global manager, Perry and Maurer (2003) say:
“They can review European marketing plans over breakfast in Paris and hold their own with a product design team in Chicago over dinner. They have simultaneously mastered both, the art and the science, the detail and the big picture, the local culture and the global context. They are true renaissance leaders.” (Gerrity, 1998).
The global corporation of today is an innovative organizational form that needs to be run using global strategic management (GSM). McKinsey management consultant Kenichi Ohmae (1990) argues that the global firm should be ‘decentered’ and this can be achieved by staffing it with neutral ‘equidistant managers’ In his landmark article “Who Is Them?” in the Harvard Business Review Robert Reich described the new global manager as one who is “driven by the irrefutable logic of global capitalism to seek higher profits, enhanced market leadership and an improved stock price”. To this global manager, “the playing field is the world” (Reich, 1991).
The global manager must be one who is comfortable in different cultures and has the ability to think globally, while at the same time, he can also act appropriately in the local domain. Teaching managers to avoid cultural gaffes and “bridge cultural gaps” has become an industry by itself. The new manager must be able to recognize these cultural differences or diversity and also take advantage of them in order to become a successful member of the transnational cosmopolitan business elite. The defining qualities of the new “global manager” have been beautifully put in a nutshell by Bartlett and Ghoshal in the Harvard Business Review titled “What Is a Global Manager?”. In this article, the global manager is referred to as “global business manager” and it is pointed out that there are three roles “at the core” of such a person’s job. According to Bartlett and Ghoshal (1992), the global manager is “the strategist for his or her organization, the architect of its worldwide asset and resource configuration, and the coordinator of transactions across national borders” (125).
Earlier, there was a distinct difference between management and leadership. This difference has today vanished. The attribute of leadership is so central to the identity of the global manager that management and leadership are often treated as the same thing (Sashkin, 1992). For example, the Wharton School notes that having a ‘Global Perspective’ is one of the five necessary features of would-be leader. (Wharton, 2000). Business consultant and writer Lawrence Tuller expands on the term ‘Global perspective’ and says that any company expecting to survive in the intensely competitive environment of the 21st century must become global and the starting point is to develop a global mentality (Tuller, 1991). Brake, Walker, and Walker (1995) call this global mentality as ‘global mind-set’ and state:
“The fundamental corporate challenge is to develop and transform the collective and individual mindset in the management ranks by broadening the manager’s view of the world and business.” (Brake et al, 1995).
Noel M. Tichy also, holds that that is of utmost importance for a global business leader to have a global mind-set. (Tichy, 1990). In fact, it is this global mind-set that is an essential prerequisite for achieving success in the globalization world (Barnet and Cavanagh, 1994).
Managers of the global business world are unique in the following aspects:
- The global manager needs a broad, cross functional, cross cultural perspective;
- Global managers view diversity as an essential source of creativity in the environment.
- Global managers need to be more familiar with technology for communication and transaction purposes.
- Global managers must focus more on cultural awareness and team work.
Mary Teagarden, a professor of global strategy at Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, in Phoenix has identified a number of key characteristics that successful global managers possess that include: a belief that differences matter; openness to new and different ideas; and cognitive complexity, or “the ability to focus on both the “hard” and “soft” metrics in an organization—the hard quantitative side along with the softer, people side” (Rifkin, 2006). Due to increased networking, the manager’s new role is to focus on choosing and training employees; setting clear expectations and paying close attention to measurements of customer satisfaction (Hall, 1994). Dr. Karl O. Magnusen (1995) calls the networking without freedom of movement as “a spider in a new web”. He suggests that managers interested in automation will have to become enablers of progress rather than gatekeepers of the veto.
The role of a manager in the modern world of globalization, innovation and diversity is one that includes having a vision. Vision implies an ability to see, to envision, global space. It also connotes an ability to see far ahead into the future (Parikh and Neubauer, 1993). It is by being a visionary that the new global manager establishes himself as one who is also a leader. It is not enough to have just a vision; he must also have the ability to communicate it (Bennis, 1995) and later realize it. In fact, according to Hitt and Keats (1992), the manager’s task involves creating a vision, fusing it with the corporate culture, mobilizing of commitment and institutionalizing of change. Thus managers need to be able to create the vision and convert that vision into action. Ronnie Lessem cautions that this calls for emotional commitment that may totally change the personality of the manager (Lessem, 1996).
In this age of globalization, diversity is being increasingly perceived as an asset to the organization and a multicultural workforce is thus considered to perform better in the global context. Globalization has brought in more immigrants to the United States and hence there is greater diversity in the workplace. In order to maximize the benefits of diversity, the managers should help employees develop a culturally informed approach to customer service, and tap new potential markets (Challenger, 2005).
In the near future, technology will tend to erode the classic job functions but there is still one important are in human performance that technology cannot replace. It is the role of intuition. Intuition and creativity distinguish human beings from machines. Only humans are capable of changing and reprogramming their thinking patters through creative understanding and self-motivation. Arupa Tesolin, seminar leader and consultant at Intuita Training & On-Line Learning Institute says: “Today, being intuitive is not a luxury, but a necessity”. When changes around the world are taking place at a rapid rate, intuition alone can help global managers to forge ahead. Dependence on logic, reason, paper trails and oppressive hierarchy will make companies lag behind on all fronts. Managers must help in creating an organizational culture that promotes intuition. Intuition is the element that can providing warning signals to the manager while taking a wrong decision and it is also the element that allows the manager to sense an opportunity when it arises. Intuition is responsible for insight, quick action in the face of danger and clear direction amid uncertainty. It is also an important element of innovation and perception of others.
Thus the role of the manager has been totally redefined in this age of globalization, innovation and diversity. Basically, the manager of today needs to be a leader, a man of vision and action. He needs to have a global perspective and the skills to communicate, motivate and get things done in any part of the world.
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