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Global Mindset can be measured. There are 3 primary dimensions: psychological, social, and intellectual.
Global Mindset is the set of individual qualities and attributes that help a manager influence individuals, groups, and organizations from other parts of the world.
Faced with the complexity of working across borders, the lack of rigorous large-scale empirical studies on global leadership, and companies’ reported challenges in finding or developing global leaders, a group of eight Thunderbird professors embarked on a research project to identify the core individual qualities and attributes that would enable global business success – that is, the Global Mindset.
The Thunderbird team conducted interviews with over 200 senior executives and 5,000 managers in 23 cities in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. They asked these executives and managers about their successes and failures, about what was getting in the way of their progress in other cultures, and the degree to which they enjoyed working with people who were different from them. The researchers asked interviewees what they thought being global leaders and effective managers in a cross-cultural environment looked like.
“When you’re working with people from other parts of the world, the way that they define a problem may be completely different,” explains Thunderbird Professor Mansour Javidan. “The methods they use to find a solution may also be completely different. And the solution they find to the problem may be completely different. So your job as a manager becomes creating agreement and consensus among these people who bring very different perspectives to the table.”
“Your job as a manager becomes creating agreement and consensus among these people who bring very different perspectives to the table.” – Click to tweet
“When you think about globalization, the implication of the company’s global strategy is that managers will be increasingly asked to work with people from other parts of the world,” Javidan explains. “The problem is that children grow up mostly learning how to live and work with people who are like them. So when a company asks its managers to work effectively with people from other parts of the world, it’s asking managers to do something that’s different from what they’re naturally developed for.”
How can we prepare these managers for this new expectation that their global companies have of them? That is the essence of Global Mindset.
A person with a low level of Global Mindset finds dealing with people from other parts of the world challenging, frustrating, and intimidating. In contrast, a person with a high level of Global Mindset finds diversity interesting, not intimidating, and an exciting challenge. She is passionate about diversity and willing to push herself. She is comfortable being uncomfortable.
Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works. They are also better able to build trusting relationships with people who are different from them by showing respect and empathy and by being good listeners.
After the Thunderbird team defined Global Mindset, they set about building a tool to measure it – what became the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI). An individual’s Global Mindset score is based on three primary and nine secondary dimensions, shown in the figure below.
The three are interrelated. For example, global psychological capital helps a manager leverage her global intellectual capital. A manager may be knowledgeable about other cultures and may be relatively up-to-date about world events, but without a strong global psychological capital she may be disinterested in working with people from other parts of the world and may find global roles stressful and frustrating.