What is Global Leadership?
We often think of leadership in terms of how decision makers help steward their organization and its employees through challenging times. But global leadership can also mean going above and beyond to help society at large.
This is true on national and international levels, as well as on smaller, less obvious stages. But every look at a successful instance of global leadership reveals that there is something in common.
Imagine a typical leader, and you might think of someone who is bold, decisive, visionary, assertive, and charismatic. Now think about the kinds of actions that such a leader might regularly engage in. Delegating, making top-down decisions, and otherwise exerting one’s power might immediately come to mind.
A behavior that’s not typically at the top of the list when we think of leadership qualities? Negotiation. Yet negotiation is a critical global leadership skill.
For instance, in reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, three state governors—Jay Inslee of Washington, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Jerry Brown of California—launched the United States Climate Alliance to consolidate U.S. states’ emission-reduction goals. Within a week, nine more states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, and Virginia, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, signed on to the alliance. That represents about one-third of the U.S. population and U.S. gross domestic product.
The alliance is an example of collaborative global leadership, and aims to strengthen existing climate programs, promote information sharing and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions.
Another example shows how a lack of global leadership can exacerbate an international crisis. As the coronavirus outbreak in China exploded into an international pandemic, nations largely struggled to confront Covid-19 in isolation rather than teaming up on global solutions. That “go it alone” approach bred dysfunctional competition for scarce resources, a shortage of creative solutions, and enormous inefficiencies.
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