Cultivating multicultural leaders – London Business School BSR


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In order to assess leadership potential, it is necessary to define the characteristics of a good leader first. However, when seeking candidates, the task is still difficult for interviewers because, although these leaders have had years of experience, past behaviour is not always a significant indicator of future success for a number of reasons. Farid Muna explains what these reasons are.

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Cultivating multicultural leaders – London Business School BSR

  1. CULTIVATING MULTICULTURAL LEADERS FARID MUNA© Copyright 2012 London Business School
  2. But what are the characteristics of a successful multicultural leader?BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 1
  3. Most outstanding multicultural leaders go through three distinct stages of development. 1 2 3BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 2
  4. Potential leaders, people who have acquired some or 1 all of the early ingredients for leadership success starting from childhood. These people then become aspiring leaders, those who 2 during their careers have taken some or all of the paths that are part of the journey to success. After a time, some of them develop into outstanding 3 leaders.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 3
  5. Potential leaders acquired some or all of the following five ingredients for leadership success during their childhood, adolescence, educationalyears and very early in their careers: 1 2 3 4 5 BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 4
  6. 1 Self-development They exhibit an insatiable thirst and hunger for more knowledge and self-improvement.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 5
  7. 2 Taking responsibility They have assumed responsibility early in life (from childhood to their early 20s)BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 6
  8. 3 Ethics and values They have learned (from early in their lives) to believe in integrity, honesty, hard work, respect for time and social responsibility.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 7
  9. 4 High-quality education They have strong analytical skills and are creative thinkers; they also have strong social, team and leadership skills, which are learned mainly through extra-curricular activities.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 8
  10. 5 Exposure and role models They are open to learning from others, from experience, from other cultures and from role models.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 9
  11. Aspiring leaders also need special development;the key is to look for individuals who work hard,smart and focused; implement training and careerdevelopment plans; engage in self-developmentactivities; develop cultural sensitivity; havesharpened emotional intelligence; and learn fromexperience and adversity. BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 10
  12. Outstanding leaders are special. When it comes tofinding these more experienced leaders (eitherfrom within or outside the organisation), it isimportant to look for those who have already shownpotential for growth and more responsibility. BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 11
  13. When seeking candidates, the task is difficult forinterviewers because, although these leaders havehad years of experience, past behaviour is notalways a significant indicator of future success forthree reasons: 1 2 3 BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 12
  14. 1 It is difficult to measure competencies and leadership potential. Candidates for leadership positions must be asked probing questions about actual (not hypothetical) accomplishments, behaviour and situations. In addition, references (other than those supplied by the candidate) need to be pursued.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 13
  15. 2 Strengths and weaknesses in one context may not be the same in a different context, culture or situation. (E.g., Scott McNealy’s high- minded resolve became obstinacy at Sun Microsystems.)BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 14
  16. 3 A person being assessed for a leadership position invariably wears a mask (or several masks) when being interviewed. The task of the interviewer is to discover what that mask may be hiding.BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 15
  17. Farid Muna holds a PhD from London Business School andis Chairman of Meirc Training & Consulting. His latest book,co-authored with Ziad A Zennie, is Developing MulticulturalLeaders: The Journey to Leadership Success (PalgraveMacmillan, 2011).This report was part of Business Strategy Review, Volume22 Issue 2 date 2011Visit our website BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW 16