Global Leadership Definitions

Representative Definitions of Global Leadership from the Literature


Adler 1997    

Global leadership involves the ability to inspire and influence the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of people from around the world … [it] can be described as a “a process by which members of the world community are empowered to work together synergistically toward a common vision and common goals resulting in an improvement in the quality of life on and for the planet.” Global leaders are those people who most strongly influence the process of global leadership.

Beechler and Javidan 2007: 140    

Global leadership is the process of influencing individuals, groups, and organizations (inside and outside the boundaries of the global organization) representing diverse cultural/political/institutional systems to contribute towards the ahievement of the global organization’s goals.

Brake 1997: 38    

Global leaders—at whatever level or location—1) will embrace the challenges of global competition, 2) generate personal and organizational energies to confront those challenges, and 3) transform the organizational energy into world-class performance. 

Caligiuri 2006: 219    

Global leaders, defines as executives who are in jobs with some international scope, must effectively manage through the complex, changing, and often ambiguous global environment.

Caligiuri and Tarique 2006: 336    

Global leaders [are] high level professionals such as executives, vice presidents, directors and managers who are in jobs with some global leadership activities such as global integration responsibilities. Global leaders play an important role in developing and sustaining a competitive advantage.  

Gregersen et al. 1998    

Leaders who can guide organizations that span diverse countries, cultures, and customers.

McCall and Hollenbeck 2002: 32    

Simply put, global executives are those who do global work. With so many kinds of global work, again depending on the mix of business and cultural crossings involved, there is clearly no one type of global executive. Executives, as well as positions, are more or less global depending upon the roles they play, their responsibilities, what they must get done, and the extent to which they cross borders.

Mendenhall et al 2013: 20     

Global leaders are individuals who effect significant positive change in organizations by building communities through the development of trust and the arrangement of organizational structures and processes in a context involving multiple cross-boundary stakeholders, multiple sources of external cross-boundary authority, and multiple cultures under conditions of temporal, geographical, and cultural complexity.

Spreitzer et al. 1997: 7    

An executive who is in a job with some international scope, whether in an expatiate assignment or in a job dealing with international issues more generally.

Source: Reiche and Mendenhall (2013). “Looking to the future.” In Mendenhall et al (eds). Global Leadership 2e: Research, Practice, and Development (New York and London: Routledge) p. 262.