From the Desk of the President

Bringing Asian Leaders to the West

By Neal Goodman, Ph.D.

As baby boomers with global business expertise retiring, organizations are increasingly seeking to replace them with talented Asian leaders to help them succeed in emerging markets in Asia.  This is great in concept, but execution is often another story.  This is hardly a surprise.  The challenges for a Western company seeking to import leadership from Asian are great.  Few of the leadership programs in Asian universities are teaching skills such as vision, creativity, and risk-taking that are at the core of many Western organizations.

There are steps that Western companies can take to position themselves (and their new Asian leaders) for success:

  • Assign an executive coach to the incoming leader.  The coach should be located in the new location but begin work with the assignee prior to departure.  It is critical that the coach has expertise training global leaders and a clear understanding of the cultural tendencies of both Eastern and Western cultures.
  • Prior to bringing the assignee overseas, interview the assignee and their sending manger (in Asia) to identify the perceived expectations of the sending manger and the metrics with which success would be measured.  (This must cover what would the assignees need to learn, what skills needed to be developed, what would be the most valuable areas that would improve the local organization upon the return of the assignee.)
  • The assignees and his or her family receive an orientation program focused on Social Security, driving, shopping, etc.
  • The assignee and his or her family undergo an in-depth cross-cultural immersion program about living and working in their new country.
  • The Host country Manager undergoes a cross-cultural briefing on the home culture of the assignee so that she would better understand possible unseen barriers that may impact her management of the assignee.
  • The host executive country coach holds an alignment meeting with the assignee and their host country manager to discuss goals, timelines and metrics.  Previous plans and goals developed prior to departure should be reviewed to ensure alignment with current expectations.
  • The coach should hold an alignment meeting between the new manager/assignee and their host country team members.  This meeting will address cross-cultural differences that may impact the team and ways for the team to work together.
  • Executive coaching should continue throughout the assignment.


Neal Goodman is the president of Global Dynamics Inc.