The face of business has changed. You may have employees working globally, doing business with people from other regions or countries, or you might be relocating executives across cultures. The fact is, global business is the new norm. And the ability for individuals to work effectively together across borders and time zones has become critical to business success.
Even more, we have a moral and ethical business obligation to be savvy in how the world works. By this, I mean being aware of the nuances of political systems, cultural norms, and psychological mindsets of whom we do business with and for. Without this savviness, we have little ability to truly understand the world and what it needs to run successfully. Still, studies show that leadership programs are failing at preparing future leaders with the skills needed to excel in today’s global business world.
What these programs are lacking are the tools necessary for employees and organizations to cultivate a global mindset. Global mindset is truly having the desire, knowledge, and skills to operate effectively in business today. One needs to know how to negotiate with vendors, sell to customers, and lead productive teamwork across regions – often in multiple countries at the same time. A global mindset is a critical skill parallel to legal, marketing, sales, or strategy. Its training isn’t an optional area of casual interest for employees. It fills a strategic tactical need of operating in today’s business setting. We need to take it as seriously as we do other business operations.
Study upon study has come out stating that the number one agenda item for today’s corporate leaders is finding talent with a global mindset. By cultivating a true global mindset, individuals working around the world will be able to:
- Assess new markets
- Understand customer behavior
- Negotiate with vendors
- Secure contracts and commitment
- Navigate cultural nuances
- Build long-term business relationships
- Run complex projects
- Manage high-performing teams
While achieving a global mindset is a journey, there are simple ways you can start on that path. Here are four tips to get you started on expanding your bottom line and…your mind:
Get off your computer and get on a plane. As much as we might like to believe that the internet makes experiences like “study abroad” unnecessary, this kind of enriching experience is invaluable in understanding how cultural differences shapes business and purchasing decisions. Opening your own mind to the differences in cultures will help you understand what kind of perspectives you might encounter in global expansion, international sales negotiations or hiring discussions for a new regional vice president.
Pursue global mindset at every level of the business. While making global mindset a priority starts with upper management, executive staff aren’t the only people involved in implementing it across a company. Personnel in human resources, public relations, and corporate communications support those executive leaders. Making global mindset a priority for the entire staff, not just those who often travel internationally, will ensure that both everyday and long-term actions of the business are sensitive to the needs of other cultures.
Play memory. If you’re working in a new, specific, region of the world, get online and memorize five facts about the country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be seen as credible. And by showing an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect and show genuine interest in your new associates.
Share your experiences. When you travel, read global news and books, or watch international films, tell your friends, families and co-workers about it. It will get them excited to learn more about the world. People exposed to distant cultures and new ideas tend to appreciate the importance of a global mindset.
Are you—and your employee—ready to go global? You can find out by taking the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI) assessment. The GMI measures Intellectual, Psychological and Social Capital to reveal both strengths and areas for development. GMI also coaches individual assessment-takers to interpret their results and create a plan of action. You can learn more about the GMI here.
Developing global mindset isn’t only a business benefit; the growth and enrichment that comes with cross-cultural experiences can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally.