Employers are unprepared for global talent demands, says Mercer

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Despite the unprecedented scale and intensity of the globalisation of organisations, few are well prepared for the talent demands required to successfully lead the business objectives behind globalisation strategies, according to Mercer.

Mercer's report New Insights on Global Leadership Development in collaboration with Jay Conger, professor of leadership studies at Claremont McKenna College, explores global leadership issues, competencies and best practices by drawing from extensive research, in-depth interviews and first-hand experience. The report provides a global leadership capability framework - 12 competencies that define a global leader - to help organisations identify the skills, mindset and personal attributes that characterise those individuals who are more likely to succeed in global leadership roles. It describes how to cultivate these competencies and at what point in employees' career they can and should be developed to be a successful leader between countries and cultures.

Colleen O'Neill, Mercer's global talent management leader for the Americas, said: "Global leadership in many organisations today is often a capstone assignment to a long and distinguished 'domestic career'.

"Our research shows that this approach is flawed. Global leadership is not always the next level of leadership - it's far more effective to cultivate the capabilities necessary to be a successful leader earlier in an employee's career." Mercer's research examines the types of experiences and capabilities that are most helpful to developing global leaders, including expatriate assignments and mentoring. Additionally, it describes common organisational barriers, such as insufficient value placed on international assignments and modest repatriation programs which can hinder the development of global leadership talent.

To fully embrace their globalisation strategies, organisations need to dedicate better resources to developing global leaders throughout their careers. According to Mercer's research, the critical steps for starting this process include:

  • Identifying high global-potential talent pool and tracking their development
  • Valuing and managing global mobility activities by requiring international assignments at a certain managerial level and creating a mobility function within Talent or Organisational Development to manage success
  • Charting the course by knowing the stepping-stone roles toward global leadership using the full complement of development assignments, from multi-year overseas assignments to short term in-country projects to global team projects
  • Building standardised and rigorous performance and talent management systems that are global