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ARTICLES & RESOURCES

Below are a collection of Articles & Resources from Ionis International

Do Global Before Global Does You

Published on David Everhart’s LinkedIn page on October 24, 2018

by David Everhart

A few days ago I read an interesting article in Barron’s about the Chinese mobile app WeChat.

Short summary: millions of Chinese tourists wanting to spend money in the U.S. or Europe are often frustrated by the West’s old fashioned reliance on credit cards or (gasp) cash. In China, where the booming internet firm Tencent launched the social media WeChat app in 2011, 800 million people use the app as their primary means for paying for stuff. That is more than the combined population of the U.S. and Western Europe. To help out these globe-trotting spenders Tencent is now launching WeChat overseas. As is increasingly true in other areas of commerce, in digital payment systems parts of the Western world are now technologically out-of-date compared with many Asia-Pacific countries.

It is no secret that the world economy is no longer centered in the West. Surprisingly, many executives at large firms are still not opening their eyes, hearts, and minds to this reality. I believe companies, even relatively small firms, need to think – and act – more globally or run the risk having the globe roll over and flatten them. You need not be big to be global these days: I have a young French relative in her 20s based in Philadelphia with a tiny online jewelry business that uses suppliers from India and China and services customers in the U.S. and Europe.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday reviewing the most recent Fortune Global 500 list of the largest companies in the world by revenue. Although the U.S. still has the most companies on the list (126 by my count), China now runs a close second with 110 firms… and this is increasing every year. Three of the top 5 firms are now Chinese, as are 20 of the Top 100. Firms from many other emerging markets are quickly moving onto and up the list, too.

In helping firms evaluate their globalization strategy, I like to ask executives three questions:

1. Do you match your customers’ footprint? To keep things simpler, let’s just focus on China for this question. Nearly all mid to large-sized manufacturing firms have been working in China for at least twenty years. In nearly all product categories China is the single largest market on earth. International firms are no longer just in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Most are designing, sourcing, building, and selling products and services in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Service providers for such firms don’t need offices in every market their customers operate in, but they do need regional hubs to coordinate work in local languages and time zones.

2. Do you understand the context of your customers’ businesses? The world is a big place both from a population and cultural diversity perspective. Only ten percent of us are from mature economies in the West and Japan. Many otherwise sophisticated companies build strategy for Asia, Africa, and Latin America in meeting rooms in the U.S. and Europe… often with little input from their colleagues who live, work and breathe in these diverse markets and know what local customers need. I’ve been in meetings with Asia-Pacific leadership teams that had no Asia-Pacific nationals on them! Better-run firms (and there are many) have globally diverse executive teams building strategy with perspective and data from all key regions and markets.

3. What is the cost of NOT being on the ground in key fast-growth markets? If you are not active in fast-growth markets you are probably ignoring the biggest competitive threats to your business. If you haven’t done so already, peruse this insightful report from BCG: here. The authors lay out plenty of data that show how companies from fast-growing markets will be leading the Digital Age within the next five years. If you don’t want to be blind-sided by a fast moving, technologically innovative competitor you have never heard of (as has happened in Western firms that produce everything from beverages to bicycles) you should pay attention to these quickly-evolving markets in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

In summary, going global is challenging. Choosing to stay at home, however, may be fatal. Going out, learning from failures and successes, and engaging with the world enables agile organizations to stand, balance, and move with the globe rather than being rolled over by it.

To understand more about how to benchmark the “globalness” your own team or organization, please contact David Everhart at everhart@ionisinternaitonal.com

The Fundamentals of Leadership –
five “constants” that have passed the test of time

Published July 6, 2018 on David Everhart’s LinkedIn page

By David Everhart

Here in London, home to people from every corner of the football (“soccer” to some) world, the city is buzzing with World Cup activities. I just listened to four commentators, all retired world-class footballers themselves, talk about the importance of mastering the fundamentals of the game and how, even at the World Cup level, lack of attention to the basics often leads to failure. This lesson is also true in organizational leadership.

In the past year I’ve attended three major conferences, in three different European capitals, on corporate learning and development. Senior leaders from both large private companies and business schools shared opinions on a common set of topics: disruption, the IoT (Internet of Things), Virtual Reality (or AVR), big data, SoMe trapdoors, digitization, and what these new technological advances mean for modern-day leaders.

Listening to these conversations reminded me that confronting these modern-day challenges also requires mastery of fundamentals, similar to football, that have changed little in the past three decades. Below are five themes that we have distilled from our clients.

Five “Constants” of Leadership

1. Self-awareness

Good leaders need self-awareness: the basic who am I? They need to be in touch with their own moral compass and values to be genuine and authentic leaders. This requires deep reflection and constant, honest feedback from the world around them to answer these questions: “What values are at the core of my style of leadership? Are they flexible enough to accommodate diverse contexts, yet at the same time firm enough to provide a consistent guiding light to others?

2. Personal Impact

Effective leaders must know how to make an impact on people around them so that they will be taken seriously, listened to, and followed. This means developing confidence, learning to be constructively assertive, and knowing how to be noticed (“executive presence”). Effective leaders understand how to inspire and motivate others, to spot and develop talent, to engage in meaningful dialogues, to offer constructive feedback and be able to have challenging conversations with colleagues at all levels. Having good judgment and strong business acumen is only useful if others are willing to listen to your ideas.

3. Self-Management and Resilience

Throughout history leaders have needed to learn to manage stress. This is especially true today when people expect to communicate and receive information 24/7. A critical leadership skill is understanding how to create boundaries that allow the mental space for clear-headed thinking. Effective leaders build their own filtering processes and develop the resilience and discipline to make it through the good days as well as through times of crisis.

4. Organizational Navigation

To be effective, leaders need to develop strong organizational navigation skills. They to know how to influence others and to develop a broad network. Every organization has unique dynamics and nuances to consider. As leaders, we need to be able to successfully navigate in complex, competitive, and rapidly changing environments.

5. Global Perspective

Effective leadership in New York, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, or Shanghai requires different styles. Cultural contexts vary from country to country, from business to business, even from department to department. In a world where most top leaders need a global perspective, they should constantly ask themselves: Am I leading in a way that makes sense for the people in front of me, next to me, and above me? How can I adjust my style to accommodate others’ needs?

Ionis International builds leadership development programs on these “global leadership fundamentals.” To discuss this article and leadership development ideas contact David Everhart: everhart@ionisinternational.com

Digital learning: How to train for long-term impact

Published on Global Focus Magazine

By David Pontoppidan and David Everhart

David Pontoppidan and David Everhart say that a solid understanding of the basics of learning is now in place and technological aids are increasingly available. Now is the time to put them together into blended learning journeys that deliver high and lasting impact.