Leading Across New Borders: A book review by Bob Morris

Leading AcrossLeading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts
Ernest Gundling, Christie Caldwell, and Karen Cvitkovich
John Wiley & Sons (2015)

A brilliant analysis of the skills, values, and competencies needed to achieve success in the global marketplace

I agree with Ernest Gundling, Christie Caldwell, and Karen Cvitkovich: “Many organizations have realized that if they still hope to be relevant in the near future, they need to radically adjust their thinking about where they are located, how they do business, what they produce, and who will lead them. While the need for change is glaringly apparent, the path to success in this new global playing field is elusive. The transformation to a global talent management model is a high-stakes endeavor fraught with difficulties and well-intentioned strategies gone awry. As the world shifts, some approaches to talent will produce far greater success than others.”

In marketing, this is what Marty Neumeier has in mind -– in his recent book, THE BRAND FLIP –- when suggesting that a “an explosion of connectivity, and the power it gives customers, is turning companies upside down. The question isn’t whether your industry will be disrupted, but when.” Thomas Kuhn would call this a paradigm shift and the co-authors of Leaders Across New Borders would call this simply a shift to what has become a volatile and disruptive global marketplace.

Gundling, Caldwell, and Cvitkovich provide a wealth of information, insights, and counsel to help the executives who read this book to become much better prepared to lead their companies when struggling to meet the various challenges of global disruption. These are among the subjects of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of their book’s coverage.

o What is changing and why it matters
o Who “global talent” is, what people want, and what they need to learn
o When cultural awareness is not enough
o Why matrix teams fail and how to get better results
o How to create inclusive leadership for competitive advantage
o How to focus on the real work needed to bring people together and make any deal worthwhile
o Developing the agility to innovate on a global scale
o Making conscious choices to ensure a sustainable future
o Integrating your own heritage, present awareness, and a vision for the future

I commend Gundling, Caldwell, and Cvitkovich on their skillful use of various reader-friendly devices. For example, “Sidebars” that range from global team elements ranked from highest to lowest scoring to personal consequences of economic trends; boxed mini-commentaries (e.g. “Superstars versus Everyone Else”); Tables; a “What You Can Do” section at the conclusion of Chapters 2-9; and three appendices; “Team Launch: Foundations,” “Assessments from Aperian Global,” and “Recommended Case Studies.” These devices and others help to facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

Heaven knows, there really are serious challenges to face and they will become even more unsettling in months and years to come. Ernest Gundling, Christie Caldwell, and Karen Cvitkovich are well-aware of the perils that await. In this volume, they have shared all that they have learned about what works, what doesn’t, and why when confronting a challenge. These are their concluding thoughts about the leadership that will be urgently needed: “Leaders who are clear about their own personal core values — knowing both what they stand for and where they are willing to be flexible — are best suited to handle shifting economic realities and to identify and cultivate fresh talent. Taking on new responsibilities requires a leap of faith on the part of those who accept them as well. Yet leaders who have found their own center can also be trusted to shape the future.”

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