Welcome to leading in the age of disruptions

Shared views with Dr. Markus Alsleben for the "EMBA Linkedge" Newsletter of february 2023

The survival of mankind will depend to a large extent on the ability of people who think differently, to act together

Prof. Dr. Geert Hofstede

Over forty years ago famous Dutch culture researcher Geert Hofstede laid out his vision for the future of mankind in his book “Culture consequence”. The necessity
of people from diverse backgrounds to effectively collaborate and prosper is key to our very survival. 

Looking at this sentence in 2022, this quote seems more relevant than ever. We currently experience a phase in history of unprecedented disruptions and deep societal polarisations. 

Global managers and leaders today face a multitude of organisational, but also personal challenges in such environment. In recent years organizations have more and more discounted risks in their decision-making processes. They therefore did not adequately make provisions to prepare for systemic disruptions or so called “black swan events”, events that are considered highly unlikely with severe consequence. It is therefore no surprise that organizations deliberately look for ways to increase organizational resilience and agility e.g. in supply chains and teams. 
Stress resistance in times of crisis is a hallmark of managerial success, aspiring leaders need to learn how to build and retain such personal serenity. Personal resilience exercises or mindfulness can help to build this critical skill, but more importantly organizations need to foster honest and open discussions in times of crisis supported by professional coaching and mentoring.

Research has shown that ethnical diverse teams, if managed by a competent global leader, can outperform non diverse teams significantly in terms of financial performance, innovation, and agility. In today’s fast changing world of disruptions, cultural diverse teams can give organisations a sustainable competitive advantage to differentiate and succeed. 

So more than ever we should build bridges rather than trenches that separate us from each other. Understanding and adjusting to cultural differences is a key skill to build these such bridges and successfully manage global teams and organisation. 

Unfortunately, many newcomers in global leadership positions often lack sufficient understanding of cultural differences and the right tools to manage them and struggle to effectively lead across cultures.

Figure 1 – Cycle of Global Leadership Adoption

The exceptional diversity and international background of our participants from more than 20 countries creates a unique learning environment in our MBA course. Participants share their experiences and best practices but also learnings from misunderstandings and small failures thus creating a unique opportunity to build global leadership skills first hand.

Assuming a global leadership position is a challenging, but very rewarding opportunity to accelerate your career and expand your personal development. But global leadership is more than a career, it is a lifestyle that requires a significant commitment in terms of time, learning and global mobility from yourself and your family. Your personal lifestyle is the foundation upon which your global leadership career is built. Before accepting a global assignment, it is therefore advisable to reflect upon your lifestyle and how it can support your global career choice. 

In our course we use a powerful tools for such reflection: the global leadership development plan that lays out a personal path towards your global career with concrete actions to undertake to become a successful global leader. 

If you have a curious and adventurous mind, I truly believe that such career is the right path for you, keep in mind that according to Hofstede our all survival depends on it. 


Dr. Markus Alsleben is German by birth and has lived in the Germany, UK, China, Hong Kong, Italy and now in Istanbul, Turkey. He successfully managed large global teams across various cultures in senior executive positions in professional services and high tech. He worked as Vice President North Asia for SAP building successful cross-cultural consulting teams for the booming north Asian region and later supported the growth of SAP Labs China, one of SAPs largest R&D centres. 

He founded several companies across the globe focused on leadership development, innovation, cross cultural and agile management. His ventures enable executives and senior managers in multinational enterprises to improve cultural intelligence and agility in a global world of disruptions.  

Markus works as executive coach and moderator utilising innovative methods and custom-built formats to transform organisations through short term interventions and workshops as well as multi-year transformation projects.