Why Leadership in Emerging Markets Is Different

Your talent pool won’t be as deep in an emerging market, and you’ll need to flex different leadership muscles, says Jesse Wu, former chairman of China at Johnson & Johnson. Mr. Wu is a Lulu Chow Wang Senior Visiting Scholar at Columbia Business School.
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Leaders are good leaders anywhere. However, when you’re in an emerging market, the requirements are somewhat different.

In order to bring an emerging market business to a developed stage, a leader has to be more hands-on. I always said to my staff, “In an emerging market, you have to be prepared to do things two levels below your rank.” By being hands-on, you teach the less experienced staff, who obviously learn very fast. After they learn, they can move the entire operation from an emerging market state to a developed market state.

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