Global Talent Development on the Rise

According to a report released by the Conference Board, a global research and business membership organization, a majority of companies want to accelerate the development of their global talent. They surveyed 81 companies on global leadership development and found that 77% are seeking a variety of approaches to improve their global talent development.

The most effective practices to develop global business leaders are longer-term international assignments (cited by 33%) and international cross-functional team participation (18%)…

“The best way to accelerate global leadership development is to have a sound framework,” says Robert Kramer, Principal Researcher, The Conference Board, and author of the report. “It is important to identify what lessons and performance demands are needed to build international business proficiency, and to find key talent and focus attention on the fast learners.”

Because the primary vehicle for developing international leaders is experience, it is important to recognize early the experiences that prepare talented people to become global executives.

Several of the survey participants suggested that early assessment can be executed through assessment centers, rating scales, and manager input. Selection criteria for this review include job performance, learning agility, evidence of early leadership skills, and demonstration of adherence to company values. Assessing early leadership attributes requires at least three years of work experience to demonstrate performance and potential.

Well-managed firms (firms with a return on investment equal to or higher than their respective industry averages) are more likely to accelerate global leadership development by giving qualified executives access to a few, targeted, developmentally rich positions, providing greater opportunities for global networking, using assignments in foreign client or supplier organizations, employing focus groups, and using off-site education or training programs.

The report says that well-managed firms make use of longer-term international assignments (2-3 years or more) to develop global business leaders. Additionally, well-managed firms say they involve their global leadership talent in expatriate assignment goal-setting. These firms also say that their global business leadership activities differ distinctly from their general business leadership activities in that they require learning how to handle stress, both business and personal.

Overall, survey participants rated early career overseas experiences such as specialized offshore assignments as one of the most frequently used accelerating techniques. Approximately 86% of the survey participants that use it report that it is a moderately to very effective development technique.