Global Business Leadership 2nd ed.

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 3 June 2014


Rao, P.M.S. (2014), "Global Business Leadership 2nd ed.", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 22 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Global Business Leadership 2nd ed.

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 22, Issue 4

Sarah McArthur and E.S. Wibbeke,



ISBN: 9780415629812

The second edition of Sarah McArthur and E.S. Wibbeke’s Global Business Leadership has been fully updated with the latest changes in intercultural communication and leadership development. It contains inspiring interviews from esteemed scholars and business people who are mostly chief executives. It outlines the leadership challenges they face and the lessons they must learn to minimize mistakes and maximize leadership effectiveness and success.

The authors advance the view that, first and foremost, a leader must articulate a vision. At least 30 per cent of a leader’s time should be spent on people. Every global leader needs to develop learning agility, which is the ability to make meaning from personal experience.

The authors go on to say that leaders should never rest on their laurels. They should, instead, practice continuous dissatisfaction. This involves taking time to celebrate accomplishments but never getting complacent about them.

The authors emphasize the importance of spending time on talent acquisition, on-boarding, employee development and employee retention. The capacity to inspire and to communicate trust, passion and vision are fundamental ingredients of successful leadership. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. If people do not believe in the messenger, they will not believe the message.

Successful global leaders are collaborative and team-orientated. They need to be sensitive to different cultures, although there are universal principles that govern effective leadership across the world.

Dealing with ambiguity calls for a better understanding of the wider environment. People who are comfortable with higher levels of ambiguity are also more interested in contexts that feature diverse groups of people. People with low tolerance of ambiguity, who find themselves in intercultural situations, can make costly mistakes.

Opposition to a person’s ideas as a leader is not necessarily resistance but possibly a lack of understanding of how they might play out in someone else’s context and culture. Leaders will be more successful if they have the patience to allow others to explore an idea or approach to see how they can make it work.

While leadership theories largely agree that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership model that can fully prepare a leader for the journey, some do argue that there can be more standardization of leadership practice.

Leaders who start something must finish it. They should do their work well or not do it at all. They need to acquire the competence to recognize good work in others, respect them, reconcile differences and realize the integration of opposing orientations.

The authors emphasize the importance of leading by example and not by fiat. Leaders should know where the organization is heading and how that can be directed both for the general good and for the welfare and success of the organization itself. They should have stamina and endurance for the long haul.

Adaptability is the key. Leaders should possess empathy, humility, honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. They need a global mindset and moral courage. Leadership is about doing the right thing rather than the popular thing.

People who lead across different cultures and geographies need to be patient with people from different places who think and act differently. Leaders must be patient enough to listen, learn, understand and be tolerant.

Good leaders require a strong sense of commitment to their vision and the ability to convey this to the people who work for them. Above all, they should be decisive. Even if they make the wrong decision at first, they are more likely to get to the right answer more quickly than if they get stuck in analysis–paralysis.

Leaders should not cling to the status quo. They should be able to deal with fast change and keep up with the complexity of the modern business world. They should not develop products without a clear business model around how the technology will be monetized and without a clear path as to how they are solving a customer’s problem. They should understand that trust in business has been in steep decline since the beginning of the recession and do all they can to increase trust in their own organizations.

Global Business Leadership is a thoroughly researched book containing lots of references, examples, illustrations and inspiring interviews from chief executives and other thought leaders. It is an inspirational resource for all leaders who wish to excel as global leaders and who are already working as leaders in the global environment. It provides valuable takeaways for global leaders, chief executives, educators and coaches.

Reviewed by Professor M.S. Rao, International leadership Guru,,