More firms seeking multilingual global leaders: Survey

Percentage of employers providing language training more than doubled this year
||Last Updated: 08/21/2012

There has been an increase in demand for multilingual skills among global leadership candidates, according to a recent survey by AMA Enterprise.

Currently, 14 per cent of high-performing global companies hire only multilingual candidates for management positions, up from 10 per cent in 2010, found the survey of 1,000 companies across the globe.

“There is an emerging realization that English may not be the exclusive business language in the future, and forward thinking organizations clearly see the value of the multilingual leader and look for greater language proficiency in their global leadership candidates,” said Sandi Edwards, senior vice-president for AMA Enterprise.

One in five (21 per cent) of employers select managers for assignments based on their language skills, but don’t require multilingual proficiency.

As further indication of a desire for a multilingual global leadership team, the percentage of high-performing companies that report providing language training for all employees has more than doubled, from 10 per cent in 2011 to 23 per cent in 2012, found the survey. And 15 per cent provide such training for high potentials.

Nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) do not require multilingual skills and do not provide language training of any kind.

The survey also found that customization of the content of global leadership development programs has dropped somewhat. In 2011, about 40 per cent of high-performing companies said that they customized the content of their global leadership development programs to a “high” or “very high” extent for various regions or countries, compared to just 23 per cent in 2012.

“The drop notwithstanding, our experience with clients tells us that for companies with global ambitions customizing programs isn’t just a best practice, but a necessity,” said Edwards. “Effective global leadership initiatives are always being adapted to meet changing business requirements and new competency areas.”

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