This paper will examine and contrast the essential characteristics of a global business leader as well as evaluate the characteristics and practices that may assist multinational organizations retain their workforce and boost their morale and team spirit. This paper will also examine views regarding the characteristics and practices necessary for global leaders to successfully manage within the global virtual team environment One of the fastest-growing, high-tech office trends today is ‘virtual teams’.

These teams cross time, space, and cultural boundaries and do so effectively with the use of technology. When Marshall McLuhan forecasted the ‘global village’ in the 1960s; he was, in fact, speaking of the virtual workplace” (Johnson, Heimann and O’Neill, 2001, p. 24). Clearly, there is a need for virtual teams within our expanding global economy. In order to build on the concept of a virtual team, it is first necessary to outline characteristics of high performing teams versus those that are not. A global multicultural organization is dynamic and complex.

This means that multicultural organizations are very transformative and ever changing. Organization principles and rules that worked yesterday may not work today in a global multicultural organization due to the ever-changing demographics and needs of the workforce. The characteristics and practices necessary for global leaders to successfully manage within the global virtual team environment are knowledge, vision, understanding, good listener, ethically sensitive, and the ability and willingness.

A bad leader in the global virtual team is the one who always portrays to their subordinates that they know it all. Effective and efficient future global virtual and multicultural leaders are those who are open minded, ready and willing, when situations become complex; and demand additional information and evaluation in order to make sound business decision. Today and future global virtual and multicultural leaders are those who are culturally aware of the difficulties and challenges that surround their multicultural and virtual workforce.

They are ready to learn and be educated by their workforce. Organizations are excited by the fact that they no longer need to co-locate big teams. Microsoft, Texas Instruments and Motorola are just examples. Looking around, it is not difficult to see a majority of the multi-national organizations operating such teams with product design, development, test centers distributed around the globe, Philips, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, GE, DaimlerChrysler, Oracle and Digital Equipment just to name a few” (pp. 102-103).

Based on the research, there are a number of significant reasons for companies choosing to have virtual teams. Johnson, Heimann and O’Neill (2001) provide a concise list of benefits associated with the benefits of virtual teams. These include “Allowing flexible hours so employees can spend more time with family. Nearly 75 percent of teleworkers responding to an AT&T survey last year said that they were more satisfied with their personal and family lives [now] than before they started working (Baig and Dunkin, 1998). Creates and disperses improved business processes across organizations.

Supports cross-functional and cross-divisional interaction. Saves time and money in the daily transportation to and from work. Global leaders in virtual and multicultural organizations are responsible for building organizations were individuals continually expand their capabilities to shape their future through learning – that is leaders are responsible for fostering learning and are themselves learners (Senge, 1990, p. 209). “In a global virtual organizations, the roles of leaders have been conceptualized as that as designers, teachers, learners, and stewards. (Knutson & Mirando 2000, p. 209). The aforementioned are a concise comparison and contrast of the characteristics and practices essential to leading global and multicultural organizations currently, and in the future. “Communication is a key to keeping teams together and on track. ” (Smith & Mraz, 2001 p. 70). As management of a global virtual and multicultural organization, it is difficult to maintain organizational edge regarding current global and multicultural environmental trends without good communication across the organization.

Employees must be kept informed about global environmental trends that affect their professions and the organization as a whole. They must be kept informed about trends in management, policies, regulations, chain of command, roles and responsibilities and what have you. There will be confusion, misunderstanding, productivity problems and quality if there is no effective communication across organizational chain. Another way by which leadership characteristics and practices can assist organizations in maintaining their edge regarding current global and multicultural environmental trends is by ensuring that leaders are social responsible.

Global leaders re-examine their production and manufacturing practices and policies to ensure that those practices and policies are environmentally friendly. “The total corporate social responsibility of business entails the simultaneous fulfillment of the firm’s economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities. Like the CSR firm who strive to make a profit, obey the law, be ethical, and be a good corporate citizen. ” (Carroll 1991, p. 8).

In order to maintain organizational environmental edge and to successfully create and sustain teamwork, conflict management, ethics, organizational cultures and diversity; global business leaders create a healthy work environment for all; free from stereotypes and prejudice. Stereotypical work environmental and intolerance to the cultures of others may breed conflicts, misunderstanding, unhealthy work environment and decreased productivity. May also lead to absenteeism, and high organizational turnovers.

Global leaders make ethical decisions in the presence of their workforce; institute effective and efficient conflict management department or alternative dispute resolution division in order to deal and handle any organizational disputes or conflicts that arise in their organizations. Conclusion Certain leadership characteristics and practices are unacceptable in today’s global business environment. For instance, unethical business decision may end up forcing an organization out of business; unethical business decision may lead to prosecution as seen today in the global business environment.

Leaders live exemplary lives worthy of emulation, they are flexible, good listeners, ready to teach and learn and more importantly culturally sensitive and competent to manage their multicultural workforce. It does not pay to be viewed as a socially irresponsible organization; it does not pay to be viewed as an unethical global organization. Global leaders demonstrate good conscience, commitment to organizational mission and vision, and most importantly create a work environment to empower future global business leaders through cultural competency and sensitivity.

Reference Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons, 1-20. Knutson, K. A. , and Mirando, A. O. (2000). Leadership characteristics, social interest, and learning organizations. Journal of Individual Psychology, 56(2), 205-21 Smith, P. G. , and Mraz, S. (2001). Communication holds global teams together Machine Design, 73(14), 70-74

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