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Identifying global leadership potential

Claudia Knoll (School of Management, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria)
Dietmar Sternad (School of Management, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 31 May 2021

Issue publication date: 8 June 2021




This article investigates which criteria and processes are used to identify global leadership potential (GLP) in multinational corporations.


First, the literature at the intersection between leadership potential and global leadership is reviewed to identify a set of criteria that can be used for assessing GLP. The findings are then validated in a qualitative study against a sample of nine global corporations.


Several traits (integrity and resilience), attitudes (learning orientation, motivation to lead, change orientation, drive for results, customer orientation and a global mindset) and competencies (cognitive complexity and intercultural, interpersonal, leadership, learning, change and business competencies) are associated with GLP. The core steps in the GLP identification process are nomination, assessment and confirmation. These steps can be complemented by a preassessment phase and a subsequent talent dialogue.

Practical implications

The results of this research can inform human resource (HR) management practitioners in their endeavor to successfully identify and assess potential future global leaders.


Prior research has focused either on defining global leadership or on assessing leadership potential in general, without a clear focus on identifying global leaders. In this article, the two concepts of global leadership and leadership potential are combined, thus providing an integrated content and process model that indicates how global corporations select their future global leaders.



Knoll, C. and Sternad, D. (2021), "Identifying global leadership potential", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 253-272.



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