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Get the basics right before going global

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Globalisation is an increasingly attractive prospect for businesses. While the benefits can be substantial, care must be taken to ensure domestic processes are properly established first.


As recently reported by HR Leader, globalisation is at a record high. There are a variety of benefits that can come from global expansion, such as a larger market to work with, cheaper prices, and improved outsourcing opportunities.

While the benefits are clear, leaders should approach decisions with care and caution. Capability should be considered first and foremost, as businesses don’t want to overextend themselves.

“Once it’s been established that a company is ready to grow internationally from a business perspective, it’s also critical to the organisation’s success to assess whether the leadership team is capable and confident in executing the expansion plans,” commented global business expansion expert Trena Blair.

“Making sure the right people are in the right roles at the right time to support this phase of growth, that the senior team has cultivated trust with their staff by mastering the art of delegation, and that the decision-makers are focused on fostering an environment that invests in the development of employees and encourages new ideas from all levels across the business is imperative.”

There are significant roadblocks that come along with global expansion. According to Multiplier, some of the top challenges are:

  • Legal and regulatory compliance.
  • Cultural differences.
  • Organisational communication.
  • Marketing strategies.
  • Local competition.
  • Supply chain risks.
  • Accounting and financial differences.

Further to these considerations, Blair noted that the pressure can often be too much: “One specific challenge I have observed frequently in working with leaders and their teams, especially those involved in building the business up to this point in the life cycle where it’s ready to expand into different markets, is fatigue.

“Fatigue is a sign of burnout and stress … To achieve success, leaders must ensure they have a significant level of energy so their role can evolve from a collaborator to an ambassador.”

Leaders must be equipped to lead the charge when striving for global expansion. That’s why getting the basics right is key. According to Blair, the five most important leadership qualities for going global are:

  1. Fluid intelligence: Refers to the ability of an individual to reason, think flexibly, and understand abstract relationships between things. This trait is valuable in leadership and entrepreneurship because it enables entrepreneurs to adapt to changing circumstances, develop innovative solutions, and make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Entrepreneurs with high fluid intelligence are often quick learners, can solve complex problems efficiently, and possess strong analytical skills.
  2. Emotional control: Refers to an individual’s ability to regulate and manage their emotions effectively. Successful leaders must navigate various challenges and uncertainties in their journey and emotional control plays a crucial role in their ability to handle stress, setbacks, and failures. Entrepreneurs and leaders with strong emotional control can stay calm and composed under pressure, make rational decisions, and maintain focus on their goals. This trait helps them avoid impulsive reactions and make well-informed choices.
  3. Autonomy: Refers to the ability to be self-directed and hold oneself accountable. Successful entrepreneurs often need to work independently, set goals, and take responsibility for their actions. They possess a strong sense of self-motivation and drive, which allows them to stay focused and committed to their vision. Autonomy also means confidence to make decisions and take risks without constant external validation. Entrepreneurs with high autonomy are self-starters who can efficiently manage their time, prioritise tasks, and persevere through challenges.
  4. Reflection: In the start-up entrepreneurial context, reflection refers to objectively analysing failures, learning from them, and moving forward. Setbacks do not deter leaders and entrepreneurs who possess this trait; instead, they view setbacks as valuable learning opportunities. They are willing to examine their performance, seek feedback, and adjust accordingly. Reflection also encompasses resilience because successful entrepreneurs must bounce back quickly from failures and keep pushing forward.
  5. Trust: There are two elements to trust: self-trust and building trust with others. Self-trust involves having confidence in one’s abilities, judgement, and decision-making skills. Entrepreneurs who trust themselves are more likely to take calculated risks, make bold choices, and lead with conviction. Building trust with others, such as team members, investors, and customers, is also crucial for entrepreneurial and leadership success at the start-up stage. Trustworthy entrepreneurs are perceived as reliable, honest, and dependable, which helps them establish strong relationships and attract support from others.


Change management

Change management is the process of guiding workers through a change by monitoring its effect on their output, morale, and other stakeholders is part of the change. This can be carried out constantly or on a set schedule, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.