Leadership Crossroads Newsletter


In Focus:  Leadership Challenges
in Emerging Markets

by Dr. Tom Verghese, founder of
Cultural Synergies in Melbourne, Australia

Over the past few months I have been travelling in and out of Asia frequently. A key topic of discussion with some of my clients has been ‘the war for talent’, the term coined by McKinsey & Co in 1997. I think that there is a war for talent in the developed countries; but this is not the case for the emerging economies, such as Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia and China.

How can there be a lack of talent in these countries, when for example India has more than 65% of its population below the age of 35 and with a population greater than 1.2 billion no less? Indo­nesia is another example, where nearly half of the total population is under the age of 30.

Now, I concur that talent development in emerging market econo­mies is a multi-layered and complex process; but surely these well-populated countries should have an ample pool of potential talent? These markets require a greater focus in terms of how talent is identified and how it is leveraged. Talent programs and succession planning need to be more creative, innovative and holistic in these economies.

As emerging economies have experienced rapid expansion they are now coming up against succession planning challenges that are demanding the attention that they deserve. Organizations working in these markets need to take stock and focus on the long-term goals and changing business models by investing in human capital to ensure their competitive advantages.

It begins with questions, such as:

  • What does talent look like?
  • How is talent defined in the first place?
  • Are the talent strategies culturally appropriate?
  • How does one ‘prime’ the talent pipelines?
  • How are global leaders developed?

Some of the areas for consideration are:

  • Leadership in India has different characteristics to leadership in China or Malaysia. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Talent development programs need to include culture specific components.
  • Human Resources need to be placed as a higher priority than they have been in the past. For example, values, biases and motivations vary across cultures; therefore directly impacting engagement, incentives, interpretations of competency and expectations.
  • Executive Coaching, mentoring and shadowing alongside board members and senior executives is critical. On-the-job training and opportunities in terms of observation and immediate feedback are invaluable.
  • Career development plans need to promote a sense of loyalty and connectedness. This is especially important in countries that have high staff turnover and are high context and highly relationship based.
  • As the growth of potential female leaders in emerging economies is expected to continue, strategies that support their advancement need to be in place.
  • Progression and succession planning need to be culturally appropriate and clearly disseminated to the up-coming talent.

Tom can be reached at

This article is also available in PDF format  (requires Adobe Reader ).

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Globalization Work


Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz presents a candid analysis of the short­comings of globalization together with a bold, thought-provoking set of innovative suggestions.

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Web Site Of The Quarter
Business Etiquette


Links to more than 30 sites discussing business etiquette around the world.

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Quote Of The Quarter

Try not —
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There is no try...




Kindle E-Book edition
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Negotiating International Business book

All 50 individual Country Sections from Negotiating International Business are available online  for free.

Download Country Section PDF files now!


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is a competent resource for

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Today's global corporations often put together multinational teams across distances, time zones, languages, and cultural barriers.  This new form of collaboration presents huge challenges to managers and team members alike: they need to learn how to communicate and work together remotely, bridging cultural differences and leveraging technology to achieve high remote team performance.  Our Remote Management workshops teach the skills that matter, from effective communication to promoting trust in an international remote team environment.
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Lothar Katz

Lothar Katz is the founder of Leadership Crossroads.  He has helped many clients achieve productive cooperation across cultures and drive business success on a global scale.
A seasoned global executive, he regularly interacted with employees, cus­tomers, out­sourcing partners, and third parties in numerous countries around the world.

Contact : info@leadershipcrossroads.com
Leadership CrossroadsSM, 2014

Global Business Practices:
Ten Tips for Doing Business in Egypt

  • Eqypt still is at a critical junction, trying to determine the country's future direction. Be prepared to improvise as required.
  • Most Egyptians are very proud of their country and quick to take offense at even the slightest notion of disrespect, so tread carefully when asked for your impressions.
  • While religuous tensions remain strong, faith plays less of a role in business exchanges than in many other Arab countries.
  • Women may still find it difficult to conduct business in Egypt. It could be best to work "through" a male colleague.
  • Punctuality is crucial with people who outrank you. Be pre­pared for them to keep you waiting, though.
  • Egyptians often use circuitous language, which can make it difficult to figure out the exact message. When an Egyptian says ‘yes,’ the real message could be ‘possibly,’ even 'no.'
  • Do not openly show anger. The importance of diplomatic restraint and tact cannot be overestimated. Subtle hints, such as remaining silent, are more appropriate and effective.
  • Negotiations may take substantial time. Spend significant effort upfront to build strong relationships and remain patient.
  • Egyptians enjoy positive emotions and smile frequently. Instead of indicating amusement or approval, smiles some­times hide feelings of distress, even anger, here.
  • Keep your eye contact infrequent. People here might take it as a personal attack if you stare at them excessively.

Our newsletter is a quarterly publication about all aspects of International and Cross-Cultural Business Management.  Past issues can be found in our  newsletter archive.

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