What can Global Leadership Learn from Global Marketing?
by Mirella Menti
Globalization is more than just a trendy buzzword. It is the reality. More and more companies focus on global markets for business growth and long-term success. However, in order to enter new and unknown markets, organizations need to develop a sophisticated marketing strategy. Numerous factors must be considered and many questions must be asked before an organization makes a decision to grow internationally. As Philip Kotler and Kevin L. Keller (2012) put it in ‘Marketing Management: ‘Although opportunities to enter and compete in international markets are significant, the risks can be high’.
An organization’s global marketing department will invest time and money to make a thorough and deep analysis in order to learn about current products, competitors, cultures as well as laws and regulations in the new business environment. But most of all, they focus on learning and understanding about potential customers and clients. They are really curious about people and ask lots of questions about future customers, such as:
What do they value?
What do they want?
What is their lifestyle?
What are their preferences?
What is their buying behavior?
How can we best serve our future customers?
All these aspects will end up having an influence on the product itself. Based on the information that is gathered, companies must make sound decisions to what extent products need to be adapted to foreign markets.
For example, it might be necessary to change the product’s name, ingredients, color, taste, shape, features, measurements, size. This engagement is a continuous journey to stay ahead of the game. A company that fails to put in the effort and energy to undergo this process will likely have many challenges in the new market. In the end, the customers provide feedback about the product by simple buying the product or not.
That raises the question: What has Global Marketing to do with Global Leadership? Where is the connection? Let’s take a step back and have a look at what global leadership means. Global leadership is the ability of operating effectively in a global environment while being respectful of cultural diversity (Harris, Moran, and Moran, 2004). Global leadership is like global marketing but with the emphasize not just on customers but on all stakeholders. Global leaders will invest time and money to have a thorough and deep understanding about different cultures as well as their own.
What do they / I / we value?
What do they / I / we believe?
What is their / my / our motivation?
What are their / my / our preference?
What is their / my / our communication style?
How can I as a global leader best serve our stakeholders?
Again, all these aspects have an enormous impact on elements like building trusting and long-term relationships – communicating and leading effectively beyond borders. They are essential for the company’s competitive advantage and success. The global leader has the ability to effortlessly adapt her or his response and reaction appropriately to different cultural contexts and situations. They know it is a continuous journey and they appreciate changes and challenges. Leaders who fail to put in this energy and effort are sure to face challenges that are even more complex and deep-rooted. Feedback might not be so obvious. It will reflect in the relationships, high-performing teams, collaborations, partnerships, and business results.
Harris, P.R., Moran, R.T., & Moran, S.V. (2004), Managing Cultural Differences: Global Leadership for the twenty-first century, 6th edn., Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemnann, Oxford.
Mirella Menti is a Global Leadership Coach and Trainer. Her company, Menti - Global Leadership Transformation, is dedicated to serve leaders, managers, and organizations to develop competencies and capabilities for the global business environment. For more information, please visit www.menti-glt.com.