Leaders of Chinese companies going international can draw on the experience of American and Japanese multinationals in developing the right talent for a foreign market, an expert said on Wednesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Human Capital Summit, Kwan Chee Wei, chief executive officer of the Human Leadership Institute, said that many Asian firms, including some of the Chinese firms, are following the "traditional American model" to ship their best managers from the home country to foreign markets as they expand overseas.
However, many of these firms are doing this "without making efforts to make sure that he or she has the right competencies to lead outside the home country," he said.
Some of the Chinese firms, too, are sending their best managers overseas without spending enough time to make sure that the right types of leadership skills can be applicable to a different market.
He said the solution has to be two-fold. On the one hand, it involves efforts to give the managers from the home market the training for them to understand the local culture and have the ability to lead a local team.
It is necessary for them to understand the cultural complexity and that the way of doing business is not the same as doing business in China. They should also understand how to manage a local workforce, which is often quite different from managing a group of local Chinese employees.
On the other hand, it also involves efforts to groom local talent that understands the Chinese culture and values as well as the culture of the Chinese company.
Some of the Chinese firms, like personal computer maker Lenovo, have been doing excellent in this respect and are now reaping the benefit of their efforts and having faster growth, Kwan said.
Chinese companies can draw on the experiences of Japanese firms and U.S. firms, Kwan said.
The Japanese firms are widely seen as having encountered cultural challenges when they went international. The U.S. firms once also tried to ship their best managers outside to foreign markets, but many of them had also adapted to the challenges by grooming local talent.