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New Directions: Leadership in a Global Workplace

May 21, 2012

Today Rita Buscher, Marketing Campaign Manager, continues her interview with Linkage Principal Consultant Bernardus Holtrop. Below Bernardus discusses international trends in business and leading in the modern world.

Rita: Last week, we spoke about Leading Business in a Global World and leadership culture. From your experience, what are some of the other international trends in leadership development over the last five or 10 years?

Bernardus: From my experience in teaching McKinsey Partners how to build deeper trusted relationships with their clients, I see actually two big things. One is that, maybe 10 years ago, leadership development was still focused on developing skills, whereas in the last few years, it has been shifting to less pure skill development and more changing the underlying mindsets that, then eventually, lead to desired behavior. So leadership development has moved from skill development to creating awareness of and shifting underlying mindsets.

Another trend that I see is that the rise of social media is also operating on the mindset level where—because information is readily available—the subject matter expertise is less highly regarded, and actually, sometimes outright rejected. This leads to a trend toward self-development—people can teach themselves if they want to. At the same time, when people do get on some kind of organized leadership development program, there is a great need to integrate with the social media experience that people have in the rest of their lives. So what we see is total integration of off-site preparation work on social media or e-learning systems with on-site in person training with remote coaching, all with more electronically supported learning. Sometimes the supported learning is simulation; sometimes it is more or less plainly content in electronic form; and sometime it is supported by learning groups in an online format. There are many forms of electronic support but there is a great need to integrate that into learning and development—which many organizations are working on.


Rita: What have those integrated systems done to leadership? Have they changed it or has it made it easier to lead because you can be more in touch with your people?

Bernardus: Well, I would guess that really applies to leadership development, how we, as leadership developers, need to engage with the learners. I think the trend that I talked earlier about in which the subject matter expertise is being less well respected or actually not forming a source of leadership that much anymore; that means that leaders need to find a different source of their leadership—also they cannot rely on subject matter expertise. And another thing is that big shift towards employees wanting leaders who provide meaning and inspiration.


Rita: How is leadership development in the United States different than it is in Europe?

Bernardus: Interestingly, in my view there’s not that much difference in how the companies in the U.S. and Europe look at leadership development. For me, having worked with an international organization with mostly international clients, actually the difference would be fairly small. I think at a more systematic level, the social trends are more or less the same globally. The bigger companies that we work with—it’s actually a reality for many people in the workplace in international companies—those companies are very global and they have global leadership philosophies and global value systems and global structures. And also their approach to leadership development is based on globally available research.

The world is getting more uniform and more accessible. If somebody makes something up in the Ukraine, people know about it the next day all over the world.


Join us on Wednesday for Bernardus’ perspective on Driving Global Leadership and Inclusion


Bernardus Holtrop is Principal Consultant with Linkage, where he coaches executives, senior managers and teams on their most complex challenges. As both a group facilitator and an Executive Coach, Bernardus designs leadership development programs and personalized strategies that foster bottom line results, improved work relationships and organizational transformation. He works with organizations large and small, including many Fortune 100 companies.


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