Global Companies Want Faster Key Leader Development

December 15, 2005 ( - A new Conference Board survey found that 77% of companies surveyed want the development of their global employee talent to go more quickly.

Respondents indicated to pollsters that they are pursuing a variety of approaches to more efficiently develop key talent, according to a Conference Board news release.

Providing targeted feedback on performance and potential was cited by 47% as being the most effective tactic in accelerating the nurturing of global talent. The most effective practices are longer-term international assignments (33%) and international cross-functional team participation (18%).

“The best way to accelerate global leadership development is to have a sound framework,” said Robert Kramer, Principal Researcher, The Conference Board, and author of the report, in the news release. “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. Some companies are developing key development jobs for talented, experienced executives and conducting interviews with the experienced individuals, the report said.

Several of the survey participants suggest 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, the report said. 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 global leadership talent 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, researchers said.

The report says that well-managed firms make use of longer-term international assignments (two to three years or more) to develop global business leaders.

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.

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