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Global leaders are an emerging class of professionals that are adept at operating in international and multicultural contexts. Initial research shows that global leaders are a unique breed with identifiable traits. They have a natural curiosity about the world and interest in people different from themselves. This interest inspires visionary initiatives and organisations that span national boundaries. Furthermore, real global leaders recognise the impact of their actions on surrounding communities and constituencies. They understand that personal prosperity is dependent upon the prosperity of others and that they play a role in transforming not only their companies, but also the societies in which they operate.
Evidence indicates global leaders are not just born, but can be made. Global leaders become who they are by cultivating particular ways of looking at the world, thinking about problems and opportunities and acting with integrity in pursuit of solutions. Research shows that global leaders share three common characteristics: they have a global mindset which allows them to connect across boundaries, they are global entrepreneurs driven to create new solutions and seize opportunities, and they are global citizens inspired to contribute to the communities they touch.
Paul Meyer, co-founder of the mobile health services company Voxiva, offers an example of a global leader. While born in New York, Meyer grew up in California, Tunisia, Egypt, and Washington as he followed his mother who ran World Bank relief programs in 50 countries. After college he worked for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and landed a White House job that took him to South Asia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uganda, and Tunisia. These experiences led him to found a series of organisations, including the first internet service provider in post-conflict Kosovo and initiatives that used information technology to help reunite families separated by war. His focus would eventually shift towards creating profitable technology-based businesses that also addressed pressing human problems. Meyer has received both the MIT Technology Review’s Technology Pioneer Award and their Humanitarian of the Year Award. Meyer exhibits all the qualities of today’s global leader: internationally experienced with the ability to turn experience into value-creating opportunities that serve both his organisations and the world.