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Global Leadership: A Developmental Shift for Everyone

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 January 2015

Katherine Holt*
Peakinsight LLC
Kyoko Seki
Deep Harmony Co. Ltd.
E-mail:, Address: Peakinsight LLC, PO Box 910, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019


Global leaders operate in a context of multicultural, paradoxical complexity in the world—a context that most leaders find themselves facing today. We argue that 4 developmental shifts are required to be effective in this context: developing multicultural effectiveness, becoming adept at managing paradoxes, cultivating the “being” dimension of human experience, and appreciating individual uniqueness in the context of cultural differences. Challenges for industrial–organizational (I–O) psychology are identified in each area. The article concludes by inviting I–O psychologists to integrate competing frameworks, explore related disciplines, revamp leadership competency models, create new tools and frameworks for developing global leaders, and step up to become global leaders ourselves.

Focal Article
Copyright © Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2012 

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The authors thank Kai Foong Tan and Adair Nagata for providing insightful suggestions that helped shape many key points in this article. We appreciated comments from Paul Batz, Chris Cartwright, Carol Cummins, Ted Dale, Sandra Davis, Joe DiStefano, Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Rhonda Gutenberg, Joy Hazucha, Rob Kaiser, Lynn King, Mark Schmit, Doug Stuart, and Therese Tong along with several anonymous reviewers. Also thanks to our colleagues Carol Braddick, Maura Fallon, Himanshu Jani, Lauren Oliver, Pamela Kennedy Stinson, Donna Sylvan, Kai Foong Tan, Tina Wahi, and Gary Wang who helped us recruit survey participants and conduct interviews with people in Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Vietnam, UK, and USA. We are grateful for the wisdom shared by hundreds of global leaders, members of global teams, HR leaders, cross-cultural trainers, consultants, coaches, and academic researchers who participated in our interviews and online survey.


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