The executives U.S. manufacturers send to foreign markets often struggle to mold to the new environments, fail to produce the expected results, and are soon recalled or transferred. Most haven't been properly prepared to lead in places where the cultural, political, regulatory and economic landscapes may be radically different from what they know. Most try to apply what served them well in the past, learning the hard way just how much they must adjust to local norms. As these leaders struggle through the learning curve, the assets they were sent in to manage may experience one poor cycle after another.
The solution is to have a ready supply of tested global leaders, but what is a global leader? The definition has changed. In the past, the term was applied to executives who managed offshore operations from a company's domestic headquarters. More recently, it's someone who has actually lived and worked abroad.
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