April 12, 2021

International Hospitality Operations Need Global Leaders: Research Highlights (Part 2)

Written by HFTP Publications

In recent research, Dr. Paul Willie, DBA, MBA, CHAE+, CHTP, CMA and Isidro Fierro set out to identify the elements and requirements of a global leader in today’s hospitality industry. They leveraged existing secondary data to highlight why global leaders are imperative for international hospitality firms — as well as the actions an organization must take to secure and/or develop a global leader to effectively compete in today’s competitive international environment. Their research draws on the literature and perspectives of academics who have engaged in extensive travel around the role.

Part 1 of "International Hospitality Operations Need Global Leaders: Research Highlights" introduced various criteria that are integral to effective global leadership, including skills that are desirable for a global leader to demonstrate. As the research emphasizes, the emergence of international commerce and ensuing need for corporate presence in foreign markets has created the demand for qualified and skilled global leaders. Many organizations recognize the need for leaders and make every effort to have them present on their management teams.

This second part of research highlights published on HFTP Connect will present examples of global hospitality leaders identified by the researchers, as well as steps to take for the successful transition and execution of a global strategy.

Having the global mindset

Global leaders need competencies that adapt to international settings so that their performance is not adversely affected. Previously, it has been assumed that domestic leadership competencies can be easily transferred into an international setting for global leaders. In contrast to this belief, this research speaks to the reality that domestic and global leader competencies can and will be different.

For example, domestic leaders will not have the same obstacles as a global leader will be confronted with in another country. Those challenges can be economic, competitive, political, and/or consumer based. As such, the degree of operating difficulty can be much greater in a foreign market. In support of this conviction, Dr. Maryam Hassanzadeh identifies seven competencies that a global leader must have. They include: 1) global mindset, 2) the ability to learn from experience, 3) being culturally aware and sensitive, 4) effective communicator, 5) develop and maintain relationships, 6) demonstrate positive traits or attitudes, and 7) appropriate knowledge and skills (Hassanzadeh, 2015). Having possession of these competencies will increase the likelihood that a global leader will be able to deal with the many diverse challenges encountered in new global environments.

Global leaders must communicate organizational goals and objectives efficiently and effectively....Thus, one of the main competencies that interacts with and influences the other competencies is "global mindset." A global mindset is defined as “a set of attributes that will help a manager to influence individuals, groups, and organizations from diverse cultural, political and institutional backgrounds” (Javidan, 2012)....With a global mindset, international leaders will be able to facilitate the achievement of their organizational performance objectives because they will be well prepared when dealing with different and diverse stakeholders (Scandelius & Cohan, 2016).

A global mindset is a concerted effort by the global leader to help achieve corporate mission, global leadership, and competitiveness (Subrahmanyam, 2018). This occurs because the global leader has an ability to understand the cultural norms, customs, traditions and best practices that are in place within a particular international setting.

The research describes several other requirements to be a global leader. In addition, how best to develop a global mindset is examined within the context of effective and successful global leaders. The research ultimately found that trained and skilled global leaders enable organizations to be successful with their respective global strategies in foreign markets. Having a capable global leader on hand provides organizations with an opportunity to utilize local strategies in the domestic market and comprehensive global strategies in the international market, taking into account possible challenges that can arise within the international marketplace.

From the research: examples of global leaders

A few examples of global leaders are provided herein. A first example of an idealistic global leader with a robust global mindset exists with the author and creator of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Mr. Isadore Sharp. Issy, as he is known by members of his inner circle, always had a broad global vision. Subsequently, over almost six decades while building his luxury hotel brand, he was extremely successful in honing his global mindset skillsets (Gordon, 2016). From a very humble start in downtown Toronto, Canada Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts now operates in more than 100 hotels around the globe (Four Seasons Property Map, 2020).

Another example is provided with a brief look at Heineken USA CEO Maggie Timoney. Maggie Timoney was born and raised in Ireland. As a young adult she moved to the United States, where she achieved both her undergraduate degree and an MBA. She then worked her way up throughout the organization to eventually become Heineken’s director for Canada. Continuing along this positive career progression, she became the senior vice president of human resources, Heineken International. Next stop was Ireland, as CEO Heineken Ireland, and today she is thriving as the CEO for Heineken United States (Ramaswamy, 2019). One can confidently argue that her global mindset helped facilitate her arrival at this current position.

Dimitris Manikis, president and managing director for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, provides yet another example of the value in developing a global mindset. Born and raised in Greece, Dimitris earned his undergraduate degree in Greece and then pursued graduate studies at the University of Surry in the United Kingdom. He has worked extensively throughout Africa and Europe. Today, as president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), he is based in London, England but is responsible for the European, African and Middle East markets (Kilburn, 2018).

However, organizations going international might not have the benefit of an Isadore Sharp, a Maggie Timoney, or a Dimitis Manikis. As such organizations may encounter many obstacles such as the cultural barriers that arise from different languages, preferences, religion, and or purchasing power (Rahman, Uddin, & Lodorfos, 2017). Accordingly, global leaders must prepare for the continuing changing conditions in their current and future operating environments. They will need to be able to identify challenges, opportunities and threats as quickly as they arise. In addition, local strategies may not easily transfer into multinational strategies because the environments and culture will be different (Verbeke & Asmussen, 2016). Therefore, the role of a global leader is to find a way to align the local and multinational strategies into a unified force (George, 2015). As such, businesses must have a global strategy that will facilitate the alignment of local strategies with international plans.

Steps for successful transition, execution of a global strategy

From the article “Global Strategy ... In a World of Nations?” (Yip, 1989), there are three steps presented that are essential for the successful transition and execution of a global strategy.

First, there must be a core strategy. This is leveraging the organization’s essential competitive advantages. The organizations core competitive advantages usually serves the need to compete and win in the domestic market. This must be in play first prior to any attempt of exportation/transitioning the core strategy for use in the international arena....

Second, there is a need to “internationalize the core strategy." This can be accomplished by adhering to what works best at home, the domestic market, but also by making the necessary adjustments for a foreign market. This would include taking into consideration cultural norms, customs and traditions as well as appropriately embracing new practices, ways and means, given a novel and dynamic foreign operating environment.

Finally, there is a need to ensure effective implementation of the core and alternative strategies in each new and entered country of the global market (Yip, 1989). These can be accomplished by ensuring efficient deployment/ mobilization of resources, having realistic timelines as milestones, utilizing a well-articulated financial budget, and having strong management oversight in place. From the literature one can state with a strong degree of confidence that global leaders can and will be successful in achieving these three imperative steps.

Find the full research report online. Also, be sure to attend the HFTP webinar taking place this Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. CDT (3:00 p.m. EDT), hosted by Dr. Willie. He will be presenting on this research and follow-up reports. In this virtual session, learn:

  • What it means for leaders to be "global ready"

  • The characteristics a global leader must have in order to be effective

  • What imperative skillsets are required of an effective leader

Register on the HFTP website to attend this webinar.

Dr. Paul Willie, DBA, MBA, CHAE+, CHTP, CMA and Isidro Fierro are researchers at the Universidad Espíritu Santo, Somborondon, Guayas, Ecuador. Dr. Willie is also HFTP Education Advisory Council member, CHTP Advisory Council chair and Past Ontario Chapter president, as well as a professor at Niagara College Canada.


Four Seasons Property Map. (2020). Retrieved from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: https://www.fourseasons.com/find_a_hotel_or_resort/

George, Bill. (Summer 2015). "The New Global Leaders." People + Strategy Journal. Vol. 8, Issue 3.

Gordon, D. (2016, October 10). A man for all seasons - how Issy Sharp built his hotel chain. Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-37557539

Hassanzadeh, M., Silong, A., Asmuni, A., & Wahat, N. (2015). Global Leadership Competencies. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 5(2), 137-146.

Javidan, Mansour and Walker, Jennie. (2012). “A Whole New Global Mindset for Leadership.” People & Strategy, Vol.
35, No. 2, pp.36-41.

Kilburn, H. (2018, July 19). In conversation with: Dimitris Manikis, President and Managing Director (EMEA) for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Retrieved from Hotel Designs: https://hoteldesigns.net/industry-news/in-conversation-with-dimitris-manikis-president-and-managing-director-emea-for-wyndham-hotel-group/

Rahman, Uddin, & Lodorfos. (2017). "Barriers to Enter into Foreign Markets: Evidence from SMEs in an Emerging Economy." https://core.ac.uk/reader/42613730

Ramaswamy, S. V. (2019, August 6). Having a chat and a non-alcoholic beer with Heineken USA CEO Maggie Timoney. Retrieved from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2019/08/06/heineken-usa-ceo-maggie-timoney-interview/1921379001/

Scandelius, C., & Cohan, G. (2016, September). Achieving collaboration with diverse stakeholders—The role of strategic ambiguity in CSR communication. Journal of Business Research, 69(9), Pages 3487-3499. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0148296316000503

Subrahmanyam, Dr. Satya. (2018). "Global Mindset -A Requirement for Global Corporate Leaders." International Journal of Research. 5. 1725-1742.

Verbeke, A., & Asmussen, C. (2016, September). Global, Local, or Regional? The Locus of MNE Strategies. Journal of Management Studies, 1051-1075. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joms.12190

Yip, G. (1989, October 15). Global Strategy ... In a World of Nations? Retrieved from MIT Sloan Management Review: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/global-strategy-in-a-world-of-nations/

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