The Lack of Global Competency

Current thoughts in the field of global leadership generally hold that cross-cultural competencies are fundamental to the effective deployment of higher-order competencies in global business. There are numerous academic papers alluding to this, but “Developing Cross-Cultural Competencies in Management Education via Cognitive-Behavior Therapy” provides an excellent summary of the current research and thinking regarding the importance of developing global competencies for improving cross-cultural communication and interaction. 

While cross-cultural, or global, competencies are understood to be essential for success within the global sphere, many business executives rate new hires, especially recent business school graduates, as lacking in having a global perspective or any training in global business skills. Having the ability to navigate oneself in a foreign situation generally requires training or at least an awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses within the framework of global communication, leadership, and relationships.   

Measuring Crucial Competencies

It is essential for educational programs, preparatory business programs, or any intercultural organization or business to develop global competency expectations. Additionally, they should find ways to measure these skills so that global competency development can be assessed, understood, and used as a platform to increase individuals’ global competency. 

The deficit in fully educating business people on how to be globally competent resulted in the development of Kozai Group’s Global Competency Index (GCI). Based on empirical data from a large scale review of expatriate and global leadership literature, Bird distilled down the “preeminent competencies” that are consistent across empirical studies for influencing interpersonal processes important to global leadership. These sixteen competencies form the dimensions of Kozai’s GCI and measure the global leadership capability of assessees. These sixteen dimensions measured are: 

  1. Cosmopolitanism
  2. Emotional resilience
  3. Emotional sensitivity
  4. Inquisitiveness
  5. Interest flexibility
  6. Interpersonal engagement
  7. Non Judgmentalness
  8. Nonstress tendency
  9. Optimism
  10. Relationship interest
  11. Self-awareness
  12. Self-confidence
  13. Self-identity
  14. Social flexibility
  15. Stress management
  16. Tolerance of ambiguity

The GCI further categorizes these sixteen dimensions into three major competency domains:

  • Perception management (cosmopolitanism, inquisitiveness, interest flexibility, non-judgmentalness, and tolerance of ambiguity)
  • Relationship management (emotional sensitivity, interpersonal engagement, relationship interest, self-awareness, and social flexibility)
  • Self-management (emotional resilience, nonstress tendency, optimism, self-confidence, self-identity, and stress management)

By providing empirical, holistic data on these sixteen dimensions and three competency domains, the GCI effectively quantifies the potential success of current or future global executives, or anyone seeking to determine how they can be more globally capable and aware. While people who have higher results on their GCI tend to perform at a higher level of intercultural fluency, regardless of someone’s GCI results, the information the assessment provides shows people their strengths and weaknesses within the global competency framework. 

The results provide a springboard from which anyone can learn about their global competency strengths and weaknesses and improve their cultural responsiveness. Furthermore, the report and tools provided by the GCI contain in-depth actionable data to assist individuals with increasing their global competencies. Those assessed will be able to readily identify their global competency strengths and weaknesses and obtain concrete ways to improve their global competencies.

Using the GCI to Enact a Four-Step Plan for Global Competency Success

Mendenhall emphasizes that anyone can use the GCI to develop a concrete, step-by-step plan for acting on the results of the GCI, whether the growth is for personal travel, working in a global setting, working with intercultural colleagues, or any situation in which intercultural understanding is required. Mendenhall’s pragmatic first step is to take the GCI so that baseline data and an understanding of where someone is in the spectrum of global competency are established. Simply taking the GCI also helps people conceptualize a realistic starting point, areas that need work, as well as areas of strength as one seeks to grow their global competency. 

Conceptualizing the degree to which someone currently possesses various cross-cultural competencies is paramount to future growth. The ability to conceptualize and understand the reality of their competencies provides the foundation for one’s willingness to pursue further development. Once this framework is obtained, a personal development plan can be created. An individual can do this independently, a business’s HR department can assist, and/or Kozai Group has resources to aid this process. 

The third step outlined by Mendenhall involves ensuring that a commitment to global competency growth will occur by enhancing accountability. This step involves setting up milestones and check-ins to ensure continued global competency growth. Again, this can be done on an individual level, with the help of one’s workplace or with the help of Kozai Group’s staff: it is simply important that the person seeking to increase their global competency is held accountable for their growth and development through the process. 

The fourth step is largely to celebrate victories and continue along the quest for success within the global sphere by having the assessee reflect on the changes they are making, what’s working and what isn’t, and generally assess their own experiences and growth, considering the sixteen dimensions of effective global leadership from their GCI results. This allows the individual to continue their growth in a targeted manner and focus on skills they may still need to work on versus areas in which they have already made gains. 

Crucial Tool for Developing Global Competency

Using an assessment with high predictive validity, as the GCI does, provides the first step in understanding where someone is in their personal development growth for global competencies. Interpreting and acting on this data allows true intercultural competence to be realized by anyone who takes the GCI provided they follow through on working towards increasing their intercultural fluency and competence. 

By using the results from the GCI, an individual can specifically develop a tailored plan to turn their cultural weaknesses into strengths and help increase cultural competence across university campuses, businesses, and anywhere culturally diverse people interact. Kozai Group’s GCI helps individuals work towards building global leadership skills and global competency.

Want to learn more on continuous growth and adaptability in a global context? Register today to join us during our upcoming webinar, “Unlocking the Potential of Global Leadership”, on December 6, 2023 @ 4 p.m. CST. If you can’t attend, no problem! Register anyway and we will send you a link to the recording.




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