Today’s challenges—including globalization, technology, profitability through growth, capacity for change, and strategic talent management—make for a business climate significantly different than it was even a decade ago.

But these circumstances also create opportunities for those aspiring to significant positions of leadership. Major corporations that want to be successful in the global marketplace are waging a fierce battle for people with global leadership capabilities, so they now seek to attract and retain the best talent regardless of gender. Women (as well as men) hoping to advance within any major corporation will need far more than functional knowledge or technical expertise.

Today’s professionals aspiring to be tomorrow’s corporate leaders must understand the business environment in general and their industry in particular. They must learn to think strategically. They must be able to quickly adapt to change, and develop the capabilities to lead change and drive value creation within their organizations. They must appreciate and practice behaviors that inspire and motivate a globally diverse workforce, knowing how to empower people and challenge them to top performance.

Now more than ever, exclusion is not an option. Human capital remains the one true measure of differentiation between companies. Traditional barriers to the advancement of women are fading fast as companies strive to enhance their organizations by developing individual competencies as well as the depth of their workforce, beyond diversity of race and gender, to include nationality, language, and cultural differences. Winning in the global marketplace will require leaders to optimize the potential and performance of each and every employee in the workplace.