This symposium addresses the challenge of educating global leaders through a collection of scholarly perspectives and practices that focus the development of global leadership and intercultural competency, specifically through immersive international contexts. Through this symposium, we addressed the cognitive, behavioral, and affective competencies that aspiring leaders need to be successful in global contexts. It focuses on the importance, issues, and methods of developing global competence as part of leadership education.

Although this symposium is timely, global and intercultural competence is not new. Scholars of 19th-century Europe shaped the original thoughts of global competence. Their focus was internationalization through colonial conquering, and the ultimate goal was to “learn from the West” (Baumgratz, 1995). This globalization piece did not gain much attention on an international scale. In fact, many managers in the 1960s and 1970s did not consider the international piece of business to be of much importance, often with very small specialized operational departments as the sole contributor to globalization within organizations (Morrison, 2000). However, a rapid shift of perspective occurred in the 1980s when the rise of Japanese businesses began to bring to focus the importance of global leadership.

The climate of this theoretical foundation has shifted again recently as leadership educators are faced with preparing students to meet the needs of a dynamic and complicated organizational landscape. Expanding these challenges globally comprises a new level of preparedness for aspiring leaders. Globalization, and the technology that increasingly bridges countries and cultures, requires fresh paradigms and new leadership competencies (Bueno & Tubbs, 2004). Global managers will be expected to master an ever-expanding range of knowledge and skills that will allow them to be successful in international contexts (DiStefano & Maznevski, 2003). Cultural competency development and a globalized curriculum are perhaps paramount to this charge as educators embark upon the challenging journey of providing the next generation of global leaders.

The following questions provide educators with opportunities for reflection and discussion as we attempt to develop global competencies in the students we serve.