Global Leadership Practice

CEMS402 Global Leadership Practice

Autumn 2021

  • Topics

    How can future global leaders successfully collaborate with, motivate and lead people in international settings and from different cultures?

    In a world that has become more globalized than ever, leaders need to possess the knowledge and the skills to tackle the complexities of globalization. As Meyer recently concluded in her article, «although you may have been a very successful leader in your own culture, if you hope to motivate and engage people around the globe, you will need a multifaceted approach. Today it’s no longer enough to know how to lead the Dutch way or the Mexican way, the American way or the Chinese way. You must be informed enough and flexible enough to choose which style will work best in which cultural context and then deliberately decide how to adapt (or not) to get the results you need" (Erin Meyer, Being the boss in Brussels, Boston, and Beijing, Harvard Business Review, 2017).

    In this course, we examine three main topics that are relevant to future responsible global leaders:

    1. The challenges of working in and leading global teams. Working with people from different cultural backgrounds has become common, as well as working in virtual teams. What are the main challenges of leading geographically dispersed teams? How can a leader make sense of and deal with cultural differences? What strategies can be used to create an effective environment for collaborations to succeed?

    2. The challenges for global leaders related to language and communication: In international companies, people are often required to communicate in a language that is not their mother tongue and may strive to get the right message across. What issues related to language management do leaders face? Further, leaders need to communicate internally and externally in an organization: they need to convince, inspire, and show empathy: What makes them competent communicators (or not)?

    3. The challenges for global leaders related to ethics and corruption across cultures: International companies establish in countries that may have different values and sets of acceptable behavior than at headquarters. How do global leaders tackle ambiguous situations related to ethics and corruption? What skills do they need to possess to make sense of and tackle such situations?

    The course is based on recent research and insights from several disciplines such as global leadership, cross-cultural management and applied linguistics. It has an international dimension and is business focused. The sessions draw on multicultural teamwork, on the analysis of case studies, and on interventions of academic experts and of business executives.

    Further, the course is designed for the students to apply their knowledge and develop skills that are necessary to become responsible global leaders. It is therefore in line with the core CEMS values of educating students to become responsible leaders who can contribute to a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.

  • Learning outcome

    The Global Leadership course aims at addressing the five MIM learning outcomes: "business embeddedness", "internationalism", "responsible citizenship", "reflective critical thinking" and "comprehensive leadership".

    More specifically, upon successful completion of the course, the students will have attained the following:


    • Knowledge about leading global organizations, working in multicultural teams and communicating across cultures
    • Knowledge of the main characteristics of effective global leaders and of contextual factors that may affect global leadership
    • Knowledge of how diversity may affect traditional leadership approaches
    • Enhanced knowledge of the main theories related to cross-cultural management and global leadership


    • Ability to describe their own culture and question the way they act or think
    • Ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds
    • Ability to communicate effectively and give constructive feedback in a cross-cultural context
    • Ability to critically assess the main theories related to cross-cultural management and their usefulness for the global worker and manager

    General competence

    • Improved interpersonal skills to collaborate and lead in intercultural settings
    • Ability to give constructive feedback to peers
    • Ability to reflect on the feedback received and to implement an action plan to improve their behavior
    • Reflective critical thinking

  • Teaching

    The teaching method is inspired by Team-Based learning (Sweet and Michelsen, 2008) and relies heavily on multicultural group work, experiential learning and individual pre-class work.

    The students are set up in heterogeneous, multicultural groups in which most of the activities will take place. This gives them hands-on experience in working and collaborating in multicultural teams (experiential learning). Further, they are required to read and learn the basic concepts and theories prior to coming to class. In class, they work on application activities such as case studies, group presentations and discussions with invited speakers (academic experts and business executives). Class time is therefore interactive and collaborative.

    At the end of each class, the students give peer feedback to all the members of the team. This allows students to practice giving constructive feedback, as well as to reflect on how their behaviors can be perceived by their team members, and thus giving them the possibility to improve the interpersonal skills that are essential for future global leaders.

    The teaching is once a week (4-hour class). It is planned to take place on campus, with online elements. However, full online teaching will also be a possibility, if required by the situation.

  • Restricted access

    This is a mandatory CEMS course reserved for CEMS students only.

  • Requirements for course approval

    75% class attendance (physical or online) and 75% of peer feedback completed

    Course approval is valid for one semester.

  • Assessment

    A portfolio consisting of the following elements:

    1. Presentation of the fieldwork results and discussion of another group's fieldwork presentation (20%)
    2. Results of weekly tests (20%)
    3. Feedback- quality of the weekly feedback given (20%)
    4. Written group report based on the fieldwork project (20%)
    5. Individual reflection paper (20%)

    All parts have to be taken in the same semester and it is not possible to retake the elements separately. In order to retake the course, students must obtain new course approval.

  • Grading Scale


  • Literature

    A selection of book chapters and articles will be made available on Canvas.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Offered first time in spring 2021.

Course responsible

Annelise Ly, PhD, Associate professor, Department of professional and intercultural communication (FSK)