Globally responsible leadership asks business organizations to pay attention to the impact their operations have on the planet – requiring a systemic view and addressing diverse economic, social and environmental issues. It also brings vitality and new opportunities to an organization through innovation, talent engagement and cost savings.

Unfortunately, not much is understood about how leaders and organizations deal with the expanded and integrated principles of globally responsible leadership (GRL). This white paper reports on the leadership practices, policies, strategies and systems of companies recognized for their GRL efforts. Specifically, it reports on eight core leadership domains that successfully enable global responsibility:

1. Developing globally responsible vision, strategies and policies

2. Operationalizing global responsibility

3. Consistent support of top management

4. Communicating global responsibility

5. Engaging with stakeholders and across boundaries

6. Empowering employees to act responsibly

7. Establishing performance and accountability processes

8. Pursuing ethical actions for global responsibility

Given our learning so far, the following are considerations for any organization embarking on the path to global responsibility:

  • Leadership practices play a significant role in establishing how an organization’s culture supports – or hinders – global responsibility efforts.
  • Since leadership does play such an important role in an organization’s ability to have successful global responsibility outcomes, development of leadership competencies and capabilities is critical, both at the individual and organizational levels.
  • Leadership for global responsibility goes beyond setting a vision and goals. The central point is action to create alignment and to maintain commitment, such as: configuration of resources, development of supporting policies, implementation of globally responsible decision-making criteria, setting personal examples, stakeholder engagement and alliances, and development of a globally responsible mindset.

The journey to global responsibility involves challenges most organizations have never experienced. Facing these challenges requires leaders to be agile, think in new ways, ask the right questions and be comfortable not having all the answers.

Additional Contributing Author:

Alessia D’Amato is a member of several international academic and professional associations and has been published in a number of academic journals and book series. Her research interests focus on individual and global leadership development, and she was part of CCL’s research teams on Emerging Leaders and Leadership for Global Responsibility. She has a PhD in I/O psychology from the University of Bologna (Italy), a degree in organizational psychology from the University of Padova and a degree in research methodology from the University of Essex (UK).

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