The Five Principles of Global Leadership

Principle #1 – Integrity

Adheres to and acts in alignment with a set of core values and beliefs; keeps his/her word and commitments; establishes credibility with others by ‘walking the talk’; provides honest feedback in an appropriate and helpful manner; admits mistakes; doesn’t misrepresent self for personal gain; maintains confidentiality; is seen as a truthful and trustworthy leader.

In global leadership, your character is tested on a regular basis. Each crisis of leadership requires a global leader to decipher core values from cultural values. Before you can decipher these differences, you must have a clear understanding of your own core values.

Principle #2 – Purpose

Understands and clearly articulates an inspired vision of the company’s goals and mission; aligns team’s goals with company’s goals; committed to the company’s core values and culture.
When leading across cultures, the global leader must carefully communicate the vision in order to ensure it is effective in reaching the target audience. Articulating a vision depends not just on the words used but on the leader’s character and integrity.

Principle #3 – Sacrifice

A leader is willing to sacrifice in three primary areas.

  1. Individual – Being a leader means you sacrifice individually for your purpose to be achieved.
  2. Family- In leadership you constantly have to ask your family to sacrifice, so they must believe in your cause just as much as you do.
  3. Those you serve- Everyone wants a piece of your attention and time. Even the people you serve will need to sacrifice and allow you to grow as a leader.

The demands of travel alone are enough to challenge the sacrificial ability of a global leader and his or her family. But an even greater challenge for a global leader is sacrificing one’s local identity in order to gain global followers.

Principle #4 – Discipline

Discipline is an aspect of self-control. A leader has to be disciplined in many areas, but the two most important are time and priorities. The leader who is disciplined with time and priorities accomplishes goals and objectives.
Virtual teams and time zone differences are some of the challenges that require the global leader to manage time and priorities well. The ability to lead change also takes a discipline that is unique.

Principle #5 – Compassion

Compassion is extremely important in becoming a leader and in developing new leaders for the next generation. Of all the soft skills I have written about, this is the most extreme soft skill, but a leader struggles without it because the essence of leadership is being able to develop more leaders. Without the leadership principle of compassion, a leader will struggle to develop others.

Compassion is a hard trait to exhibit in one’s own culture and even more so in multiple cultures. How a global leader communicates with and treats the next generation of leaders is as important as the process. Inappropriate words or cultural insensitivities can cause a leader to be labeled as weak or hegemonistic. Both are damaging to relationships and decrease the effectiveness of leadership.