The need for a global mindset is no longer reserved just for the expats and upwardly mobile employees. As we continue to operate on such an interconnected and rapidly changing world stage the need for globally attuned leaders that are skilled in leading and unifying diversity in our own backyard looks set to increase.

The diversity of operating on such a global platform brings with it both opportunity and risk and as such requires us to rethink how we develop new ways of working and leading in order to achieve business success.

Regardless of what part of the world we work in, what industry we operate in, or what our day-to-day job is, the key role of the leader is to influence. To successfully influence in an increasingly multicultural world requires understanding, empathy and insight. Influencing those with different cultural, political and institutional backgrounds requires new ways of thinking.

When we consider the rich diversity that exists amongst our peers and employees, our customers and clients and industry and governing bodies, the ability to positively engage, deliver quality service and leverage the opportunities that collective difference brings is what will set both individuals and businesses apart.

So what actually is a global mindset?

Mansour Javidan, Director of the Global Mindset Leadership Institute, suggests that having a global mindset requires:

  1. Intellectual Capital
  2. Business savvy, cognitive complexity and a cosmopolitan outlook

  3. Psychological Capital
  4. Passion for diversity, thirst for adventure and self assurance

  5. Social Capital
  6. Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact and diplomacy

In describing leaders with strong global mindsets he notes how they are able to develop and hone their knowledge of cultural, political and economic systems of other countries and cultures and apply it to their own industry and business. In other words they know how to think globally and act locally – with relevance and meaning.

For many of us today, intellectual capital can be easily developed through reading, analysing and problem solving. It can also largely be self directed which means that those leaders or aspiring leaders can choose a course of action and directly apply themselves to learning.

Developing the psychological and social capital however is invariably not so straightforward as it often relies on longer term experiential styles of learning such as interactions with different groups of people, reflection and support from leaders, peers and/or mentors.

When organisations seek to develop a culture of global thinking, behaviour and practice they often benefit from one or more competitive advantages such as speed to market, operational efficiency, and greater market depth across regions.

Rather than relying on one person’s ability to think globally, they are able to draw on a network of global mindsets across various levels and regions which sees them well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities.

Furthermore, many researchers argue that a key benefit of broad global mindsets is the organisation’s ability to balance competing business, country and functional interests.

4 tips for cultivating a global leadership mindset

  1. Prioritise global awareness
  2. To actively build global awareness you need to prioritise it and identify key areas within your career and business that can immediately benefit.

    Consider which areas of global awareness (intellectual / psychological / social) are your priority and how best to embrace it.

  3. Engage in storytelling
  4. To help teams and individuals to raise their awareness, you need to build bridges that help link global thinking to local relevance.

  5. Identify opportunities to collaborate
  6. Find meaningful opportunities that will allow for diversity of thinking, operating and engaging to help broaden understanding, empathy and outlook.

  7. Embrace learning
  8. Identify opportunities that will broaden both knowledge and experience at various levels of the business across different functions and regions.