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Global Leadership Skills In Multi National Organisations Management Essay

With the globalization, it has become necessary for the companies to operate in an international perspective. This requires that the companies employ leaders who have skills beyond the typical managers to compete in the international environment (Tiina.J, 2004) , specially in multinational firms. ‘A multi-national company (MNC) can be defined as a company that operations in more than one country (Porter, 1990). Also, International Labour organization(ILO) has defined an MNC as a company with management head quarters in one country ( home country) and operates in many other countries ( host countries) Such an international operation requires that the leadership skills are of high standard where cultural sensitiveness, diversity management, Adaptability and innovation, profitability and continuity ( Khan. A, 2007) among other skills.

In order to investigate the role of global leadership, a research would be very much wide in scope and comprehensive. Therefore, considering the complexity and time constraints, the researcher has focussed on E-ON, which is a Multi national company. The selection of this has taken into account that it is the world’s largest investor-owned gas and Electricity supplier. Also, it is broadly present in a geographically diversified platform with over 93,000 employees across Europe, Russia and North America with its headquarters in Germany. It operates as 10 lead market units each of which is headed by a regional head (leader) ( E-On, 2009) Therefore, with the size of the company and the multinational nature, it is an ideal selection for this research in order to establish a relevant and appropriate sample .

(1) Research Problem:

E-ON headquarters charts the strategic course to steer the business across the company and the heads ten market units are responsible for managing and coordinating the business in target market with geographical and functional focus. While some leaders have been able to achieve the intended course of action set out by headquarters others were underperforming. Therefore, ‘ role of leadership skills’ is a valuable finding for the company in order to achieve its strategic goals and objectives and for the continuity of the business by identifying important global leadership skills and improving those skills of the leaders in E-ON.

(2) Research question and research Objectives:

The aim of this research is to ‘ investigate the role of global leadership skills’ in E ON as a multinational company:

In order to achieve this aim, the research should:

(a) Find out what meant by ‘global leadership skills’ in terms of E-ON’s expectations (i.e. Successful achievement of strategic goals and objectives (or Key Performance Indicators-KPI’s), ability to manage and coordinate top and bottom and vertical levels)

(b) Analyse the skills of different leaders within the company ( eg. Level of Education, number of years of experience in industry, techniques used in delivering the leadership role)

(c) Identify the most important skills in order to establish the role of global leadership skills which help company to improve the same.

(3) Literature Review :

In international or multinational business context, leadership has been an important topic and various authors have tried to define and understand the role of a leader and the skills required for a global leadership. Leadership has been defined as ‘a away of making people contribute to make an extra ordinary thing to happen’ (Kjouzes. J ,2007). Trait theory tries to identify the characteristics of a leader ( Loke et el, 1991) which suggests that it is acquired by inheritance .

Also, Kurt Lewin developed a seminal work on the influence of the leadership styles and performance in 1939. Accordingly 3 styles were identified i.e. (1) Authoritarian – leaders who make their own decisions and demand compliance , (2) Democratic- leaders who engage in collective decision making process with his assistance and (3) Laizzes-Faire- leaders who let the subordinates decide and be a helping hand in deciding. Qualitative research in 1940’s and 1950’s resulted in a profoundly a different view where it was revealed that the leaders in one situation may not necessarily be leaders in another ( Bird,c, 1940, Mann R.D, 1959) . This gave rise to the development of managerial model with behavioural leadership styles. Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed managerial grid model in 1964 ,which identifies different leadership styles in achieving goals and concern for the people ( Blake,R, Mounton, J, 1964)

In organizational context, Campbell refers to the behaviours which contribute to the success of the organization and he discuss the dimensions in the organization success( Campbell, 1990), This gives rise to the areas of leadership performance, leadership effectiveness and emergence . General skills of a leader have been observed in their demand for the situation and personal qualities, or a combination of them which influence the subordinates to accept their leadership. ‘Influence is the ability of the leader to gain or demand the corporation from others to achieve the goals by way or persuasion, control, reward or punishment’ ( Henry,P, 1971) in a specific task.

In a MNC business environment, a managerial leader has the power to influence the others by virtue of his/her authority. However, he or she must possess leadership qualities to match the given authority with personal competence It, therefore, follows that whoever who wields his personal power and influence can legitimately gain leadership in the organization with consummate authority ( Hoyle, John R, 1995) . Every organization needs leaders. However, in a multinational company, leaders require additional skills and competence which are beyond a traditional leadership skills. Dr. Adalat Khan identifies 5 core global leadership skills to perform in a multinational environment, i.e. (1) Cultural sensitivity-ability to step out from one’s own culture and understanding and accepting others’ culture, (2) Diversity management- managing different racial, cultural elements without friction and diversity training, (3) Adaptability and innovation- this is to understand be responsive for the global change in business environment, (4) Profitability and productivity management- how the leader’s superior corporate management specially at the times of difficulty and (5) Continuity- development of others for future success and survival of the organization in the international context at all levels (Khan, A, 2007)

According to E On website annual report, company has placed greater stress of team work and developing new leaders in the organization. Therefore, the role of global skills is important for the future leaders as well.

(4). Methodology

4. 1- Design of Research

Selection of appropriate data/ information gathering is an important aspect in conducting a research in order to answer the research question (Gill J. , Johnson P. ,2005) Also, due to the time and other constraints, it is not always possible to gain data/ information from the entire population. Therefore, a suitable sample which represents the population can be selected representing all the markets units in different countries, Ideally, employees at the executive level can provide with better responses as they have an idea and an understanding about global leadership skills.

Among the methods considered , a survey method is deemed appropriate as it is a ‘systematic collection of information from large study groups usually by means of interviews or questionnaires administered to samples of units of population’(Hartley & Barling, 1998). This gives the opportunity for the researcher to investigate the role of global leadership skills in depth within E-ON with questionnaires circulated and also, it has the ease of data gathering from among the senior leaders who are based in different countries.

The other reason for this selection is the Phenomenological nature of the research as this is a qualitative question where people express their human understating of the role of global leadership skills as explained by respondents ( Creswell,J.W., 2009) In this research evaluation of the data are qualitative as the ‘skills’ are non- tangible. However, there is a quantitative side of the research where the skills can be linked up with performance indicators such as sales figures, growth rate, and other financial measures. Such analyses is beyond the scope of this research as the idea is only to investigate the role of skills which are based on the beliefs of the respondents.

In analysis of data/ information, consideration can be given for inductive analysis which is building up a broad approach to information based on a detailed study ( Nardi. M.P.,2006) With the induction method, the patterns can be built up from the results of the statistics of the survey outcome. Also, in inductive analysis, there is no hypothesis and the conclusions are based on the results of the survey, which is opposite to deductive method. Also, inductive method can be used in a qualitative survey.

4. 2- Data collection method

Since the information is obtained from the internal employees the easy and convenient way is to collect data by an e mail questionnaire. However, the involvement of E –ON HR manager is extremely important in circulating this e mail, who can provide the e mail addresses as well as a note of permission and encouragement to participate in the survey which assures confidentiality.

Also, electronic survey had the advantage for the respondent to have some time to supply the answers and return within a given period of time. This is essential considering the other job priorities they have. Also, since the researcher has access to the respondent directly, any unclear responses can be clarified.) Considering above, electronically administered survey is an easy and efficient method of data gathering from employees who are located at different regions in an MNC.

In the questionnaire, the below main questions can be included to collect data from the individuals ( refer Appendix -1 for questionnaire):

1. Market unit ( country):

2. Title of employment:

3. Duties / job description:

4. Level of Education :

5. Skills required to perform the leadership role within E-ON:

6. What other skills you think will be important and improved:

7. Comments (how skills contribute to the role as a global leader)

In general, collecting primary data as above it the most expensive and tedious task. Secondary data are the data that has been collected and already in existence. It is recommended that the researcher must move forward to gathering more data only if there is a need to gather any other new data and when the existing data have already been used up. (William, P,et.el, 2008).

Such secondary data can be collected from the HR departments and the superiors for each head (leader) in E-ON. The researcher must write to the relevant members of staff such as Corporate HR head, Heads in the Market units in each country and it is the responsibility of the researcher to assure the confidentiality of the data.

1. Goals set for each leader in E ON :

2. Required skills, Key Performance indicators ( KPI’s) and the roles assigned:

3. Achievement of KPI’s :

4. Reasons for non achievement of goals :

In absence of such data, the researcher can contact the corporate HR head or Market unit heads to collect such data in order to cross examine the responses given by the individual respondents.

4.3- Sample Size

150 senior management level and market unit head level employees are selected at random. Company has over 1500 senior management level members of staff and therefore, approximately 10% ( i.e. 150) can be considered as a convenient sample size and which represent the overall picture of the organization. This allows to researcher to easily conduct the research and minimize unnecessary time, resources, and financial constraints.

(5 ) Data Analysis

The data gathered from the questionnaire ( refer Appndix-1) can be tabulated as below for the ease of analysis However, special note must be mentioned that the itineraries in the 1st row ( eg; culrural sensitivity) etc. Are not given in the questionnaire by the researcher. Those are derived from the responses received . This eliminates biasness. Also, it is likely that synonyms are used to describe the same skill by different individuals. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the researcher to code them with the same label and aggregate in the same column. The 1st column is an example of the calculation where the responses are multiplied by the weight age factor ( 4 most important and 1 least important) to find out which skills are the most important.

Table 1: Skills Questionnaire Results Aggregation

The same can be done for the skills which the employees believe are to be improved which help E ON for developing the skills.

(4) Results analysis:

As obvious from the above table -1, the skills can then be tabulated in the sequence from most important to the least important with the totals. This help to derive conclusions as to what are the main skills in the role of a global leadership in an MNC

(5) Limitation of the Research, Reliability of data and Validity

The assignment was to find the ‘ role of the global leadership skills’, which has a broader meaning and must be applicable to any global leader and any MNC. However, due to time and resource constraints, the research was concentrated on E- ON. Basic assumption is that the sample represent the entire population. It is possible that a similar survey involving many other MNC’s yield the similar results for the ‘SKILLS’. However, the ranking of importance may be different given the fact that different MNC’s require the different levels in same skills to perform the task. ( eg; in a medical field to invent new drugs may yield more stress on the scientific knowledge and expertise more than diversity management) Also, the individuals may not provide the true information due to their personal beliefs, ‘ business’, or if they do not see any personal benefit by spending required time or thinking to answer the questionnaire.

(6) Ethical Issues

Some ethical issues that might arise in a survey of this nature is the individuals right about personal data., their right either to accept to participate in the survey or not, comfort and time within their normal working hours to spend time and thinking to complete the questionnaires. Therefore, the researcher , together with the heads f the units and HR department, must communicate the purpose and benefits of the survey and clearly explain the code of conduct of the research and assure the respondents that it is the subject ( research) data and not the personal information that is taken for analysis.


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Questionnaire design

(A) Please complete the following information:

1. Market unit ( country):

2. Title of employment:

3. Duties / job description:

4. Level of Education :

5. Skills required to perform the leadership role within E-ON:

6. What other skills you think will be important and improved: (1).........(2).........

(3)............, (4).............., (5).............., (6) ..............., (7)................

(B) Please rank the role of the global leadership skills mentioned above ( 4- Extremely important, 1- Least important )

Skill-1 : ...................................

Skill-2 : ...................................

Skill-3 : ...................................

Skill-5 : ...................................

Skill-6: ...................................

Skill-7 : ...................................

Skill-8 : ...................................

7. Comments (eg:how skills contribute to the role as a global leader, how to improve)

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