10 ways leaders can think globally and develop an international outlook

In my previous post, I looked at why leaders benefit from having a ‘global mindset’ for a global age. Now I’d like to look at the ‘how’ and suggest a few ways of developing a global mindset. This will help you to overcome hurdles and benefit from big opportunities.

Coaching a global mindset

At Cirrus, we often work with global clients on major coaching programmes to help align leaders across many different countries with shared organisational goals. Through coaching, we also help to develop a global mindset.

The rise of global coaching programmes

Back in 2008, the American Management Association published A Global Study of Successful Coaching Practices. One of its conclusions was that success of global coaching programmes is best demonstrated by their impact on overall business (rather than individual) performance.  The report also predicted that by 2018, coaching will become more virtual. Well, 2018 is almost here and coaching is most definitely more virtual. For Cirrus and our clients, virtual coaching is the norm. Our ‘Connected Coaching’ programmes benefit from the support of our Strata digital platform which tracks the progress and highlights trends of coaching across entire organisations. It provides valuable resources for coachees and gives them control over their individual coaching journeys, while ensuring that these journeys are very much connected to organisational goals.

The building blocks of a global mindset

In the book Developing Your Global Mindset: The Handbook for Successful Global ..., Professor Mansour Javidan from Thunderbird School of  Global Management identifies three attributes that make up a global mindset:

  • Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitan outlook
  • Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, quest for adventure, self-assurance
  • Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, diplomacy.  

I believe that all three of these are coachable. Through coaching, we can develop leaders to expand their understanding and awareness. A good coach will challenge you, take you out of your comfort zone, and help you to shift your mindset.

I also believe that there are a lot of things leaders can do to help themselves, and based on my experience of helping leaders to develop more global mindsets over the past 25 years, I’ve pulled together ten top tips for things you can start to do today that can really make a difference. I hope you find them helpful. If you have any more to add, please leave a comment underneath this post. I’d love to hear what you think.

Ten top tips for developing a more global mindset

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Seek out unfamiliar environments. Do things that scare, intimidate or overwhelm you. Don’t always choose the safest option.
  1. Challenge your unconscious bias. What stereotypes do you hold to be true? Stereotypes are based on a judgmental attitude and selective perception. Try to remain curious, open, and willing to learn.
  1. Find opportunities to be in a minority. We often gravitate towards groups of people who are similar to us. If you are usually part of the majority, try joining groups or going to events where most of the other people are very different to you.
  1. See the person. When you’re interacting with someone, look beyond the clothes, the accent, and the mannerisms. Aim to really get to know the person you’re talking to.
  1. Look at the successful global businesses in your own country. What can you learn from them and the way they operate?
  1. Explore local business networks with an international focus. For example, where I live in Perth there is a very active Western Australia Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
  1. Pursue opportunities to volunteer. Do you have skills and experience to offer to an international charity or humanitarian organisation?
  1. Find ways to collaborate in a cross-cultural environment. This is easier than ever in our digital world, where we have so many opportunities for virtual collaboration.
  1. Learn about the business and social etiquette of other countries. Search online, read, and talk to colleagues and friends.
  1. Be a traveler, not a holiday maker. When you do get the opportunity to visit new places, aim to experience that place as locals do. Many of us seek out authentic local restaurants, but how about a local sports event, a concert, a festival?


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