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the giant leap: how to fast track readiness for country leadership
Rich Hirst04/03/2024 4:42:54 PM2 min read

the giant leap: how to fast track readiness for country leadership

The results are in, and they are alarming. 

Companies are struggling when it comes to preparing their people for promotion, especially into senior leadership roles.  And that is no more the case than the ‘giant leap’ from middle management into country leadership within multinationals. 

Research conducted with multinational country leaders when I was Director of the CEO Forum Group polling over 300 foreign owned organisations revealed that the level below the country leadership team was seen as the most critical level of talent to their organisation’s future success.  At the same time the companies responding said this level was the least prepared to step up into more senior roles. 

This marries up with other research revealing: 

  • only 12% of executives say their organisations have a strong leadership bench (DDI), 
  • 6% feel that they are "very ready" to develop their global leaders (Deloitte), and 
  • 83% say they need to improve their global leadership development programs (McKinsey), and 
  • just 10% of spending on corporate leadership training delivers concrete results (HBR). 


why developing mnc leaders is hard

Leadership is not for everyone, but everyone regardless of their title, can be a leader.  Having said this if it were easy we’d have more great leaders and less chaos in the world!  When you add to the leadership challenge being heavily exposed to cross border and cultural dynamics, the challenge is ‘next level’.  

Beyond the big global macros factors impacting all business leaders related to unprecedented volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity across political, economic, social, technological and environmental domains, leadership in a multinational context is particularly complex, and even more so when that role is based in Australia.  This is because navigating the global matrix and influencing the wide variety of internal and external stakeholders on and offshore is particularly challenging when the market you are leading is: 

  1. 1 to 5% of global revenues 
  2. 15,000 kilometres from the mothership 
  3. In a time zone everyone at global HQ and elsewhere chooses to forget 
  4. Part of the Asia Pacific region but sharing little in common with these markets, and 
  5. Serving a population less than Madagascar across a landmass similar to Europe.

australia: global leadership factory 

Despite the challenges of being a multinational leader in Australia, it is well known globally as a talent factory.  Multinationals routinely send their top talent ‘down under’ to prepare them for leading mega markets such as the US, Europe and APAC.  Many Australian’s and Kiwi’s rise through the ranks also.   

Yum! is a great example with numerous examples we know personally that have moved from middle management to country leadership to leading the home market in the USA, if not globally.  One regional leader at Yum! even started as a cashier in a KFC store! 

At Abundium we are passionate about seeing and supporting success stories like these.  Our mission is to ‘make multinational growth easier’ and without effective and efficient leadership pipelines growth will ultimately stall.  Conversely, effective succession and leadership development has the potential to ensure the Australian operations punch above their weight, despite the previously mentioned idiosyncrasies of this market. 

For this reason Abundium is pleased to be hosting our Emerging Leaders in Multinationals Summit again in 2024 on May 23.  This is the 11th year of ELM with well over 2,000 people having attended in that time.  This year’s program and speakers line-up is one of the best we’ve ever had.  Please click here to learn more and don't miss the opportunity to join us at ELM 2024.


Abundium ELM Summit 2024


Rich Hirst

Rich’s personal purpose is to help people become their better selves and bring out the best in others. Trained in organisational psychology Rich has worked with over 100,000 leaders and 1,000 CEOs plus 100’s of the global experts to decode and coach exponential leadership mindframes and tactics to achieve new levels of performance, well-being and abundance for all. He is the cofounder and CEO of Abundium, a growth accelerator network for the local leaders of foreign owned companies and not for profits.