Global mobility key to Korean firms’ globalization
Korean companies have increased the number of foreign executives as part of efforts to internationalize their organizations. However, in most cases, they failed to generate intended outcome due to cultural differences and internal resistance to change.
A global HR consulting said that securing diversity is key to ensuring success in Korean firms seeking globalization.
“Enhancing the cultural diversity in leadership team is the need of the hour and companies must ensure diversity of gender, culture, background and nationality at all levels of leadership,” Ajai Soni, the Asia Pacific Leadership Practice leader for Aon Hewitt said in an interview with Business Focus.
He emphasized that when companies recruit outside talent, they should ensure three things.
One, they need to make sure that there is a cultural and value alignment between the new hire and the company. Second, the top leadership has to be in sync with each other regarding the need for such a hiring. Third and the most importantly, there should be systematic ‘leaders assimilation’ program for the new employee. The objective of such a program is to achieve mutual appreciation of the personality, styles and values.
Soni, who has over 20 years' experience in Human Resources (HR) encompassing both internal business partnerships as well as consulting role, points out that Korean companies need to establish the right process that enable movement of local talent to outside geographies to offer them global perspective.
“Global mobility has become the key issue for Korean companies seeking to expand their overseas presence, so this investment shall draw long term value for the organization,” he said.
According to Soni, business leaders in Asia Pacific are witnessing paradoxical times in the post-crisis world.
He said that the region is filled with opportunities; however, the global business scenario throws up significant challenges.
“The most critical business challenges that leaders are facing today are business growth, margin pressure, globalization and quality of leadership. Most organizations realize that they currently are not built to grow qualified leaders fast enough to meet these challenges,” he said.
“Top companies are strongly focused on developing and preparing the next generations of leaders through smart selection, robust assessment, rich pipelines and customized opportunities with an emphasis on the art of execution.”
He also stressed that managing bandwidth is one of the biggest challenges CEO faced today. “Thus, CEOs need to ‘let go’ of operational activities and ‘pick up’ the strategic ones. CEOs today should not get too much involved in managing daily issues, but focus on long-term organization growth and sustainability,”
Soni, who is currently leading this study for the Asia Pacific region, said that leadership is the vital ingredient that drives people, clients, business, countries and the world. In that sense, leadership is what can make the business sustainable and renewable.
Thus, CEOs should involve themselves in critical talent processes including recruitment and orientation, performance and rewards, and leadership development.
“This will help create a strong leadership pipeline for Korean companies,” he said.
Q&A with Ajai Soni
Businesses are facing a myriad of challenges following the global financial crisis. In these turbulent times, leadership has become more important than ever. How do you define the leadership? How do you think leadership is different now than it was in the past?
Leadership is not the exclusive domain of few people at the top. Leadership is the vital ingredient in all of us that drives people, clients, businesses, countries and the world. In a country’s context Leadership is what each citizen can bring to create a vital and vibrant nation. In organizational context, Leadership is the traits that nurture employees, fulfill customer’s needs and grows the organization.
The events of last few years have created a very unique situation for businesses in Asia. As the developed economies have slowed down significantly, the world has started looking at Asia for growth. This is significantly adding to Competition in this region.
However, Asian companies, having learned the lessons from 2008 downturn have a very high focus on profitability. To add to this, the Asian companies are looking to grow beyond home countries and are growing globally.
The definition of leader today is the one that is able to create growth as well as global thinking in the organization while being extremely competitive and profitable. This complexity is what makes leadership different today from ever before.
Do you think that leaders can be made, or were born? How do you make a distinction between good leaders and bad leaders?
Clearly our Top Companies for Leaders (TCFL) research shows that leaders are created and not born. And like everything else in life, leaders get made through sheer hard work. A charismatic leader can last a lifetime but an organization that has good leadership development processes is able to establish a sustainable business across generations. TCFL research suggests that organizations worldwide make large investments to develop their next line of leaders as well as the “third pool” (young leaders). A good leader is someone who institutionalizes and actively participates in the process of leadership development in the organization.
Are there any differences between leadership of Asian companies and Westerns?
The fundamentals or principles of leadership development across the global do not change. However what changes is the execution of these principles. Each company needs to have a great Leadership brand, needs to be able to meticulously identify future brand ambassadors, need to then grow these people through customized development plans and by taking risk with the top talent. A most importantly needs to create a diverse mindset in its leadership and organization at large. Having said that each company needs to identify those few things that they do exceptionally well in developing leaders. Then they need to develop on those processes and institutionalize them to the extent that they become the best in the world at that.