Sample Management Paper on Enterprise Leadership

Enterprise Leadership

Leadership and management are important parts of organizational success. Arguably, good leadership is a crucial ingredient in the journey to organizational success. Over the past years, however, companies have had to look beyond country borders in search of new markets and talent for organizational survival and expansion. Saturated local markets and globalization are perhaps the main drivers of this trend. The shift has meant that leadership and management have become global given the need to operate globally, as well as deal with diversity and multiculturalism in the global setup. Global leadership, therefore, has become a necessity given the need to engage people and markets as coworkers and working environments respectively (Maranga & Sampayo, 2015). Engaging people from multiethnic and multicultural backgrounds, however, creates complexities for global leaders that are especially different from domestic and regional leaders. The complexities create challenges that global leaders have to surmount and navigate in their global operations. Enterprise leadership seems like the only plausible answer to the challenges. The paper will discuss some of the challenges of leadership and management roles in global environments, and how enterprise leaders fit in overcoming the challenges.

Part of the need for global expansion for an organization is to enter and operate in new markets. Such a move hopes to serve the organization’s overarching goal of establishing a global presence, while at the same time serving the local market within which it operates. Global leaders meet the first challenge here: having to align the organization’s local agenda with the broader enterprise agenda (Ready & Peebles, 2015). The intensity and complexity of this issue for global leaders comprise the need to balance the tension between sometimes conflicting global and local agenda. A survey conducted by Ready and Peebles (2015) showed that company executives from international organizations require leaders to act in the best interests of the larger organization and not just the small local units they run. Increasingly, organizations are pushing global leaders to become enterprise leaders (an executive who is as successful at serving the needs of the enterprise as she is at growing the unit she heads), yet at the same time requires top performance of the local international units (Ready & Peebles, 2015). The push is especially a challenge to global leaders especially if they lack the skills, knowledge, range, and expertise to achieve such feats.

Maranga and Sampayo (2015) aver that global leaders face personal challenges one among which is the need to learn (mostly on-the-job) the emotional dimensions of engaging multicultural workers. The workers naturally have different mindsets given their different cultural and social backgrounds. Leaders, in this case, have to adapt their own behavior and become aware of the influence of their own culture on their thought processes. Moreover, global leaders have to realize that their culture should not limit their choices and actions (as a reflection of the said culture), but rather be more accommodating to reflect cultural sensitivity. Yet the challenge does not stop at the emotional learning but extends to establishing and maintaining a supportive network with colleagues and happenings back home to evade the possibilities of being passed out on promotion on their return home (Maranga & Sampayo, 2015). The balance between learning the cultural intricacies and operations in the foreign land and keeping abreast with office and corporate politics back at home is especially tasking to global leaders.

Global operations mean the sharing of resources across the organizational spectrum. Moreover, with an increasingly global world, customers also demand integrated solutions rather than standalone products (Ready, 2004; Ready & Peebles, 2015). For global leaders, this creates a challenge as organizations increasingly share resources across regions and business unit boundaries. Sharing such functionalities across geographical and cultural boundaries present communication complexities and challenges. Maranga and Samayo (2015) argue, “It is when countries and cultures have to work together for the betterment of the entire world, that there may be issues associated with the interpersonal connections established because of the need to communicate and share information worldwide” (p. 83-4). National and cultural dimensions come to play in this case, which can have cataclysmic repercussions for the leader and the entire organization in the event of communication mistakes.

Relatedly, handling communication and cultural dimensions spills over to handling cultural conflicts. Aside from facing communication barriers, global leaders continually face situations in which cultural values/priorities conflict. While there may be glaring cultural conflicts, for instance, the interaction between males and females in Muslim societies in comparison with western societies, some cultural differences may be subtle (Germany and the U.S.). Maranga and Samayo (2015) posit that such conflicts are a challenge and global leaders must acquire knowledge and understanding of values and the conflicts that such values generate. Yet even in understanding the different cultures and values, one fact that is true is that no single leader is capable of competently handling such cultural conflicts given the intricate nature of the world and the varied nature of world cultures.

Global leaders have to find ways of overcoming, and in other instances, managing the challenges of operating in the global arena. Goldsmith (2009) enthuses that globalization is not going anywhere given its proliferation of daily human life. Moreover, friends, families, and individuals are fast going global through work, migration, and studies (Goldsmith, 2009; Maranga & Sampayo, 2015). Learning to navigate the murky waters of global operations, hence, becomes the only way to survive. In the article “How managers become leaders: The seven seismic shifts of perspective and responsibility” Watkins (2012) enumerates seven ways in which managers can become a leader. The seismic shifts are especially important for global leaders, who operate in challenging work environments. Overcoming the challenges presented by global leadership roles, according to Watkins (2012), begin transcending the leader’s area of expertise to the general function of overseeing the entire operation of the organization within which the leader is the helm. Watkins refers to this as moving from a specialist to a generalist.

One of the challenges of a global leader is aligning local organizational needs and demands with the overarching global organization agenda. In defining an enterprise leader, Ready and Peebles (2015) inform that it is an individual capable of serving the overarching enterprise needs, while the same time overseeing the growth of the small unit. The definition is in line with Watkins’ (2012) second seismic shift required of enterprise leaders: changing from analyst to integrator. He informs of an enterprise leader’s responsibility of managing and integrating “the collective knowledge of those functional teams to solve important organizational problems” (Watkins, 2012). Such a shift, therefore, is evidently the antidote to the challenge of conflicting global and local enterprise agenda. Moreover, Ready (2004) warns of the dangers of non-integration of local and enterprise agenda citing the autonomy of Digital Corp and Polaroid Corp, whose non-alignment caused the demise of the companies that were once technology behemoths.

Watkins’ (2012) two other shifts point to morphing from a tactician to strategist and from a bricklayer to an architect. The shifts are important in overcoming the communication barrier challenge experienced by global leaders. Shifting from tactician to strategist means focusing on high-level matters while moving from bricklayer to architect involves thinking with systems in mind, understanding the fit in organizational gears and “not naively believe that they can alter one element without thinking through the implications for all the others” (Watkins, 2012, p.7). This means that in communication, managers must not only be inward-looking but go beyond their local operations to events beyond their stations, learning how such events affect customers not only in his/her station but also in far-flung areas.

Watkins’ last two shits include transforming from warrior to diplomat and supporting cast member to lead role (Watkins, 2012). Transforming from warrior to diplomat is especially important in overcoming the challenge of cultural conflict. One of the strong points of a good diplomat is conflict resolution and management. Such skills are especially important in a multicultural environment. Moreover, in his/her position as a role, an enterprise leader takes center stage and must act as a role model in understanding different cultures and the values they place in different activities and events. Such understanding will be important in ensuring his/her lead towards a more accommodative and functional organization, with the possibility of transferring the knowledge across the entire enterprise.

Globalization continues to blur geographic lines. More people find themselves in different lands with different cultures. Organizations also increasingly blur geographical boundaries with operations across the world. Despite the blurring lines, cultural identities remain firm in geographical boundaries, which present major challenges for organizational leaders navigating international corporate waters. Cultural conflicts, communication barriers, and conflict between local and overarching enterprise agenda are among the challenges global leaders and managers face. Through the seven seismic shifts, however, global leaders can find reprieve transforming to enterprise leaders capable of surmounting the challenges that come with global corporate operations.

 

References

Goldsmith, M. (2009). Being an effective global leader. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2009/07/being-an-effective-global-lead.

Maranga, K. & Sampayo, J. (2015). Management and leadership in a global environment. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 16(1), 83-88.

Ready, D., A. & Peebles, M., E. (2015). Developing the next generation of enterprise leaders. MITSloan Management Review, 57(1), 43-51.

Ready, D., A. (2004). Leading at the enterprise level. MITSloan Management Review, 45(5), 87-91

Watkins, M., D. (2012). How managers become leaders: The seven seismic shifts of perspective and responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 2-10