Critical Analysis of Thirty Years of Global Leadership Training A Cross-Cultural Odyssey

Critical Analysis of Thirty Years of Global Leadership Training: A Cross-Cultural Odyssey

The interesting article is by Randall White and Sandra Shullman (2012), who are known professionals in the field of human resources. The authors of this journal article first focused on leadership principles and emphasize was on the American form of leadership, which seems to be practiced in emerging nations. The sectors that are most likely to benefit are educational and consulting services as compared to other sectors. Furthermore, American leadership principles will not be practiced by the emerging societies for long because they have to come up principles accepted in their society. The various leadership models and principles are often influenced by the culture that exists in a given society. The argument presented by White and Shullman (2012) is that human resources consultants should have a business survival strategy as well as an ethical obligation. It will ensure that they do not completely assume value and model of American leadership from its engagement. Consultants need to ensure that all learners have critical thinking skills as well have knowledge of the local cultures. It is vital to know if western principles can be well adjusted to meet the demands of the local and corporate cultures. This will be possible if a classroom learning approach is used as well as other methods, such as training. The authors refer to the approach as learning with partners who in this case are the clients.

The fact that White and Shullman (2012) are trained psychology professionals means that they are able to understand how people function and thus influence them to become better leaders. There has been an increase in the number of companies that need the services of organizational consultants based on various reasons. These include the 2008 financial crisis, which created competitive and new opportunities for the various developing and emerging markets. The emerging nations have been successful because they became aware on the importance of leadership. In turn, they were able to compete with superpowers who failed to succeed in their investment and banking ventures. It is true that many nations are now employing their own nationals to head their organizations because such individuals are informed about their nation’s business leadership models. An example of a country that now employs many leaders from the East is China (Osland, 2001). However, the western leadership model is still in demand and the reason why many nations have acquired the services of the Executive Development Group.

There are four key themes and factors that are extremely important in International organizational consultation. They are; the unique situation, the client as being privileged or elite, the consultant as a stranger, and the influence of local customs and multiculturalism on corporate culture. The work place is affected in many ways by the existing national and local culture. Westerners who want to work in other nations need to be fully informed on leadership styles as well as the customs of the country where they want to do business. Both authors know that corporate culture tends to be influenced by multiculturalism. In most international companies the employees usually come from different parts of the world and thus bring their cultures to the workplace. It is quite unfortunate that in most organizations, a huge variation exists with regards to reinforced and practiced multicultural attitudes (White & Shullman, 2012).

A corporation tends to have different corporate cultures depending on where it is situated. For example, the Shell company in the United States has a different corporate culture than one situated in a developing country. This means that leaders of multinational companies have most influence in their corporate office found in their home country. Therefore, an intersection is created between the local and corporate culture, and the integration and identification of unique talent becomes a challenge. Corporate culture in a multicultural organization does not have a huge impact on cross-cultural differences and conflicts. Individuals at the workplace sometimes tend to solve challenges depending on their culture. This means that they ignore the existing corporate culture as they believe that it does not compare to their beliefs (Osland, 2001).

In any consultation, when meeting a client, certain protocols have to be met in order for it to be successful. In this case an outsider or a stranger in a new environment has many advantages. It is a known fact that many global organizations have at one point interacted with Americans at the work place. When a meeting between a client and consultant it taking place, differences are ignored so as to achieve the desired goals. The key goal of a consultant is to deliver knowledge despite there being language barriers. Clients are usually well informed that American consultants are knowledgeable because they follow protocol. White and Shullman (2012) believe that it is possible to train expatriates to have the desirable traits needed at the work place. When the role of a stranger is practiced by a consultant they can conduct their work without any prejudice. Leaders should also act as strangers so that they have a positive impact on their organizations.

Leaders are motivated by different reasons when they want to climb up the success ladder. It is suggested that a number of high-performing and high-potential executives display the mystery-seeking behavior. They succeed in new environments as they are highly motivated to find out what they have never experienced before. Culture seems to affect how leadership positions are given in some organizations. For example in India, a woman or a person from a lower caste may not get a high-ranking job because of the existing culture and traditions. Depending on the organization, western leadership should be tailor made to fit in with the corporate culture (White & Shullman, 2012).

Consultants have a task of addressing cooperate cultural and multicultural responsibilities. An organization has to be analyzed well so that all the elements of corporate culture are known and this will make consulting easy. Clients will at times need the services of consultants even without prior notice and this means that the consultants should always be prepared (Chhokar & Brodbeck & House, 2007). Faith, politics, customs and language differences need to be kept in mind when consulting in international and domestic nations. Most times, the organization’s mission statement dictates the way forward with regards to establishing leadership traits among executives.

American leadership is viewed both negatively and positively depending on the perception of the person making their opinion known. Sometimes, clients want to be taught about American leadership principles and models, but this does not mean that they practice it in their organizations. Learning international English ensures that consultants remain cultural sensitive and effective. They should also keep in mind that some words are interpreted differently depending on how they are used. White and Shullman (2012) have provided some unique examples of some words such as ‘naïve’ and ‘collaborator’ which are used differently depending on a culture. Working with translators is seen to be effective as they are responsible as they act as a link between the client and the consultant. They have to be provided all the relevant information to avoid encountering any challenges. The learning approach has proven to be effective as it enables students to give their input with regards to translation. The various experiences with translation ensure that more knowledge is gained because of the different perspectives.

It is interesting to note that organizations value the input of consultants because they provide them with a non-biased view point. However, it is such a pity that gender and race issues continue to affect consultations. Most corporations still prefer white males who are Americans to provide them with consultancy services. White and Shullman (2012) claim that men of color and women are quite few in the corporate world. They should have instead said that the numbers are increasing because cultural barriers are now being removed. Terms of engagement has been proven to pose a challenge especially when referring to established customs and procedures. Therefore, the authors are correct to claim that before signing a contract all aspects of the consultation should be known.

A lot of emphasize has been put on the importance of cross-cultural awareness as well as making sure that clients always benefit. It has been proven that when individuals learn they gain knowledge and thus overcome any feelings of prejudice. Many professionals in human resources will agree that culture is as important as corporate culture. Communication channels should exist in large co operations as they influence how people will respond to corporate culture. The article has been successful in addressing the fact that it is vital to respect other cultures while maintaining personal values. Human resource professionals should ensure that they motivate individuals so that they choose leadership models and principles that will suit them best (Osland, 2001).

The article by White and Shullman (2012) has provided in depth information about global leadership. Furthermore, it has focused on leadership based upon a cross-cultural context. The information from the other notable authors has ensured that the topic has been well analyzed and addressed. The authors have spent many years consulting in the international arena and thus their input is valid. Human resources interested in the field of consultancy will benefit from this article for various reasons. Firstly, they will learn how to respect the culture and customs of their clients. Secondly, they will help develop better leaders who have multicultural knowledge (Chhokar & Brodbeck & House, 2007). In turn, this will assist in ensuring that once the consultancy work is over they improve the organization.

In conclusion, future leaders have to undergo the needed learning and training required for them to compete effectively in the globalised environment. Part of an organization’s vision is to ensure that it has a corporate culture that accommodates different cultures. The article proved that people can be trained to acquire leadership skills that make them quite effective at the workplace. However, the authors should have provided some information on cross-cultural leadership in some African countries, such as South Africa and Nigeria, and how they view American leadership models and principles. Furthermore, it would have made the article offer more knowledge concerning the issue discussed. Therefore, the article has been quite beneficial as the issues of culture and leadership are addressed appropriately by the authors.


Chhokar, J. & Brodbeck, F. & House, R. (2007). Culture and Leadership across the World. The GLOBE book of in-depth studies of 25 societies. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Osland, J. (2001). The quest for transformation: The process of global leadership development. London, England: Quorum Books.

White, Randall. & Shullman, Sandra. (2012).Thirty Years of Global Leadership Training: A Cross-Cultural Odyssey. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice & Research, 64, 4, 268.