Cross-Cultural Communication

A key skill for success in global business

Thunderbird students creating a Thunderbird 75th Anniversary logo Rangoli for a Diwali celebration

Why is cross-cultural communication important?

Today, business knows no borders. Supply and demand are international. To keep pace, organizations and leaders must globalize their operations, their talent, and their mindsets. Increasingly, managers are expected to work effectively with others from diverse parts of the world. Differing cultures, languages, and customs can present challenging circumstances that require careful sensitivity and sensibility. How well business leaders adapt to these complex and dynamic challenges can be the key to success. For organizations, success requires communication and collaboration – even or especially among people from very different backgrounds, with very different ways of thinking. For individuals, effective cross-cultural communication and collaboration requires a particular set of qualities and abilities, which Thunderbird calls the Global Mindset.
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What is a Global Mindset?

Global Mindset refers to one's ability to relate to, influence and interact with others who are unlike themselves. In an international business environment, a strong understanding of one’s Global Mindset – and how to leverage it – is paramount for positive achievements.

The Global Mindset Inventory

The Global Mindset Inventory (GMI) is a scientifically validated assessment tool that measures knowledge, skills and abilities in three dimensions: Intellectual Capital, Psychological Capital and Social Capital.

Developed through a rigorous scientific process after years of research, interviews with global executives and collaborative work with distinguished colleagues worldwide, this internet-based survey assesses a global leader’s ability to better influence individuals, groups and organizations unlike themselves.

GMI reports and coaching have helped thousands of global business leaders strengthen their ability to manage effectively in diverse economic, cultural, social, institutional and political environments.

About the GMI

  • The web-based survey has 76 questions and takes 10 minutes to complete on average
  • Measures Global Intellectual Capital, Global Psychological Capital and Global Social Capital
  • Specific versions are tailored for corporate, government and non-profit organizations as well as academic institutions
  • Available in multiple languages
  • Validated by the Dunnette Group
Through GMI assessment and coaching, you can:
  • Improve your ability to lead a global workforce
  • Develop truly global virtual teams
  • Enhance global marketing and sales effectiveness
  • Learn strategies for global integration, coordination, expansion, social responsibility and sustainability
  • Increase effectiveness of cross-functional, cross-cultural virtual teams
  • Develop skills for successful cross-border mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
Image of Thunderbird student taking an assessment


Your Global Mindset score is based on your responses to a series of questions. A personal and confidential GMI report is generated which notes your strengths and areas for improvement in the three capitals and nine competencies that define Global Mindset.

360-degree version

The GMI 360° version generates a Global Mindset score based on holistic responses from your peers, supervisors and direct reports. This full-circle approach compares your view of yourself against your immediate team’s responses and averages the grand mean of all who have completed the GMI on your behalf.

Image of Thunderbird students at a flag ceremony
Image of Thunderbird students in front of international flags

Takeaways from the GMI

Takeaways include: A scored report on your and your group’s overall GMI score(s), a sorted, highest-to-lowest written feedback report showing the nine Global Mindset competencies, and on-site workshop to help you and your colleagues identify Global Mindset development opportunities.

Solutions for corporations

Thunderbird helps corporations identify, measure and develop the global leadership skills of their teams. With Thunderbird and the Global Mindset Inventory, you can use predictive analytics to build great global leaders, make the right hiring decisions and optimize corporate development dollars.

Our corporate services include:
  • Custom consulting in cultural intelligence, talent management across cultures, diversity and inclusion, and cross-cultural employee engagement
  • Global Mindset Inventory post-assessment workshop
  • Keynote and customized Global Mindset presentations by Thunderbird faculty

Solutions for academic institutions

For business schools, the Global Mindset Inventory can measure achievement of learning objectives by assessing students' global leadership development. The GMI helps determine students’ ability to be better prepared for the opportunities, risks and challenges that come from building a business career in the globalized market.

Our academic solutions include:
  • Academic self-assessments
  • Pre- and post-assessments to evaluate learning goals during the course of an academic program
  • GMI surveys as LOA assessments to facilitate academic accreditation
  • Access to the extensive GMI database for academic researchers
Image of Thunderbird Alumnus Francis Najafi with global leaders receiving awards.

Najafi Global Mindset Institute

The Najafi Global Mindset Institute is the preeminent source for the science and practice of global leadership. The Institute offers a full-spectrum approach to defining, measuring and developing an individual’s or organization’s ability to influence people unlike themselves. With tools, workshops and resources, the Institute helps global leaders strengthen their Global Mindset.

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