Global Leadership Practice

CEMS402 Global Leadership Practice

Autumn 2024

  • Topics

    How can global leaders successfully collaborate with, motivate and lead people in international settings and from different cultures in a world that is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity?

    The world has become more globalized than ever, and leaders need to possess the knowledge and skills to tackle the complexities of leading in a diverse and multicultural context. Success in one cultural context does not guarantee the same globally. Global leaders need to be flexible, reflective, and able to make informed decisions on how to adapt their leadership style to different cultural settings.

    The complexities of global leadership are also accentuated by rapidly developing technology, ranging from artificial intelligence to tools for collaborating across geographical distances. Successful global leaders must harness the powers of technology by leading and managing rapid change within the organization, by capitalizing on the wealth of information that technology can provide, and by facilitating collaboration and communication across geographical divides. In addition, global leaders should be aware of the sustainability and ethics dimensions of leadership, which also become more complex in a globalized setting.

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

    1. Leadership: The global leader role.

    What are the challenges of global leadership, and how can leaders address them? What is the new role of leaders in the 4th industrial revolution, and how is it different from the classical theories of leadership? What are the main challenges of leading culturally diverse teams, and what strategies can leaders use? What are common challenges for the global leader in terms of ethics, and how can they be dealt with? What skills will future global leaders need in order to be successful?

    2. Collaboration: Working in and leading global teams.

    Working with people from different cultural backgrounds, both face-to-face and in virtual teams, is more and more common. What are the main challenges of leading and participating in culturally diverse and geographically dispersed teams? How can leaders deal with these challenges in ways that stimulate good collaboration, inclusion, and communication? What strategies and tools can be used to create a psychologically safe environment for collaborations to succeed?

    3. Communication: Harnessing language to convey messages culturally appropriately.

    In multinational companies, people are often required to communicate using a lingua franca, a shared language, with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. What expectations are there for such interactions, and what strategies can leaders use to ensure effective communication that engages and motivates diverse audiences? How are language and diversity issues managed in multinational corporations?

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

    Further, the course is designed for 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".

    Upon successful completion of the course, the students are able to:


    • critically reflect on the challenges and opportunities related to working, interacting, and collaborating in multicultural teams
    • critically reflect on how cultural diversity and technology may affect traditional leadership approaches
    • identify practical implications of research on workplace interaction, including in multinational and digital settings
    • discuss central theories of intercultural management, global leadership, and language and diversity management, and reflect on how these can be used to develop one’s own leadership style
    • understand how psychological safety impacts the effective functioning of multicultural teams
    • identify common ethical challenges for the global leader


    • critically reflect on one’s own culture and behavior in workplace interaction, and adjust one’s behavior accordingly to enhance collaboration, communication and leadership
    • use research-based tools to build psychological safety in a cross-cultural team
    • use knowledge of contextual factors and the main characteristics of effective cross-cultural leaders to develop one’s own leadership style
    • apply central knowledge related to the use of English as a corporate lingua franca and strategies to use it efficiently in a business setting
    • use language strategically to achieve desired outcomes in followers

    General competence

    • collaborate and lead effectively in intercultural settings
    • give presentations in a clear and engaging manner to diverse audiences
    • give constructive criticism to peers
    • analyze and reflect on situations in work contexts
    • develop and work on projects and produce deliverables alone and in groups

  • Teaching

    The teaching method is inspired by Team-Based learning and relies on multicultural group work, experiential learning, and casework. Students are expected to come to class prepared, as class time will focus on the practical application of the theories, methods and models covered in the course readings.

    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 leading and collaborating in diverse teams (experiential learning). In class, students work on application activities such as case studies, group presentations and discussions with invited speakers (business executives and academic experts). Class time is therefore interactive and collaborative, and aims to stimulate critical reflection regarding the student’s own roles as future global leaders.

    The teaching takes place once a week (3-4-hour class).

  • Restricted access

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

  • Credit reduction due to overlap


  • Compulsory Activity

    • 75% attendance
    • Attendance on both mock presentation and final group presentation days
    • Giving peer feedback to another group’s presentation

    Compulsory activities (work requirements) are valid for one semester.

  • Assessment

    Portfolio consisting of the following elements, counting for approximately 1/3 each:

    • Group presentation (video-recorded)
    • Group report
    • Individual reflection paper

    All parts have to be taken in the same semester and it is not possible to retake the elements separately.

  • Grading Scale


  • Computer tools

    All students are expected to bring a laptop or tablet to class.

  • Literature

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


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Will be offered spring 2024.

Course responsible

Associate Professor Kaisa Pietikäinen, Department of professional and intercultural communication (contact person).

Associate Professor Berit Sund, Department of Strategy and management