One of the most important skills global managers can possess is the ability to not generalize about an entire group of people, especially if one’s experience with the few people has resulted in negative outcomes. Excellent global managers have nuanced and complex cognitive processing abilities that allow them to not leap to conclusions that result in the stereotyping of an entire group of people.
We measure this skill using the IES (Intercultural Effectiveness Scale), and we call it, “Positive Regard.”
This aptitude involves the ability to feel positively disposed to a person or a group of people or an entire culture despite them holding values, norms, and practices that are different from your own. It is the ability to consciously comprehend that despite such differences, there are aspects of the vast majority of people who are culturally different from you that have value. Consequently, you should try to connect with them as friends, colleagues, or neighbors.
This competency is especially crucial for diplomats, but it is also critical for global managers. In the end, business – be it global or domestic in nature – requires working with others outside one’s in-group to accomplish anything.
What Is A Global Mindset
We hear a lot these days about the importance of having a global mindset. And it is essential, but when you ask people to define what a global mindset is, you will get as many different answers as the number of people that you ask.
Some think it has to do with how much global business knowledge you actually know while others believe it means enjoying being around and working with people who are from different cultures. Or, others might think it means being interested in and curious about other countries and keeping up with current events that are happening all around the world. I am not saying these are wrong, but I believe they are all outward manifestations of the inner workings of a global mindset.
In my opinion, a global mindset is a higher form of cognitive functioning, one that is able to parse the complexities in intercultural interactions or events that others do not see. In other words, a global mindset is the way we process, and categorize the experiences we have with other people. A simplistic mindset leads to quick and final judgments about a person or a group of people. We assume our judgment reflects reality – that this is the way “they” are.
Such simplistic mindsets lead to stereotyping, black-and-white judgmental categorizing, prejudice, and rigid thinking, all of which don’t work well when living and working in a global work context.
How To Develop A Global Mindset
It is possible to enhance the complexity of one’s cognitive functioning. I have seen it happen. But in order to develop a global mindset, it first requires a desire to do so. Without this “developmental readiness,” it is difficult to coach or teaches people how to enhance the complexity of their cognitive processing.
One of the things I first focus on when I coach someone is to teach them about “developmental readiness” and to assess their current level of it. I have found that having a self-awareness of the importance of developmental readiness in order to change actually produces heightened levels of it.
Once a person has at least a moderate level of this, the person then has a potential to shift their mindset from being mainly domestic in nature to become more global in nature. Without an adequate level of developmental readiness, managers will not develop a global mindset, no matter how slick the training program they are assigned to attend is or how charismatic their trainer or coach.
To learn more about a global mindset, and how the Kozai Group can help your organization, please reach out to the Kozai Group.