How to Lead in a Globalized World

The global economy has dramatically increased the complexity and ambiguity of organizations. Additionally, leaders in a globalized world have to constantly maintain an awareness of increasing environmental complexity. This complexity fuels conflicts, both within and external to the organization. Leaders have to be more aware of interpersonal and intercultural behavioral issues. They have to manage multiple viewpoints and perspectives from different countries and cultures. Leaders must be flexible, responsive to true differences in problem-solving among countries, and able to learn from mistakes and to balance shorter- and longer-term objectives.

The leader in a globalized world must embrace a workforce that no longer has work as a central live interest. While employees demand to be part of the organizational decision-making process and want to be vested in organizational outcomes, they increasingly demand a work structure and environment that complements their personal lifestyles — an employee’s commitment to the organization is often moderated by their commitment to their family or community. Consequently, leaders need to instill a sense of purpose and give employees the power and flexibility to accomplish both organizational and personal goals.

Leaders must develop strong ethical guidelines for their organizations and establish ways of integrating their organizations into the social fabric of the communities in which they reside. The epidemic of litigation and criminal prosecution in the last several years demonstrates that society has increased moral and social standards to which organizational leaders will be held.

The one certainty for today’s leader is uncertainty. Emerging markets, new technologies, political instability, new employee demands — all require leaders to embrace change. Much of a leader’s time is spent communicating with constituencies and assuring employees that change is necessary for continued organizational survival. In addition, it is the leader’s responsibility to create a “culture of change.”


Jim Brodzinski, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Business