Seeking Global Leadership

By Katie Kuehner-Hebert

While human resource professionals across the globe consider leadership skills as a requirement for C-suite positions, those in fast-growing, emerging regions may not be able to demand such competencies.

Instead, organizations in areas such as Asia-Pacific may have to opt for candidates who have extensive experience in managing outsourcers until they can develop their internal bench strength.

Slightly more than half (53 percent) of Asia-Pacific-based respondents said leadership skills were the No. 1 factor in hiring, compared to nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of North American respondents and 61 percent of European respondents, according to a Right Management survey of more than 2,000 human resource executives, hiring managers and recruiters in 17 countries.

Leadership skills in the survey were defined as having a track record for driving business performance, cultural fit with the organization, creativity and innovation, as well as critical thinking skills.

Michael Haid, senior vice president of talent management at Philadelphia-based Right Management, says Asia-Pacific companies might regard those skills as very important, but, in reality, they have grown so fast over the past decade that there may not be many C-suite candidates with the kind of experience that has honed those skills.

As a result, in the near term, such companies "might have to look beyond their borders to hire a global project leader that has more experience analyzing different labor rates and all of the other factors it takes to operate in different countries," Haid says.

Recruiters for multinational companies in Asia-Pacific should consider experience managing outsourcers from a remote distance, he says, as well as a demonstrated aptitude for strategic thinking.

It can be tricky, says Jackie Greaner, Atlanta-based Towers Watson's talent-management and organization-alignment practice leader for North America, to get a senior-level executive up to speed quickly, particularly if he or she has been promoted directly from a front-line supervisory position in a fast-growing company that previously had no middle-management positions.

"You can't just train people -- they have to have the actual experience that typically comes with all of these levels," Greaner says.

May 1, 2012
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