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Master This One Skill For Competitive Advantage

Research proves the rapidly-rising importance of the global mindset

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BY Melissa Lamson - 10 May 2018

Master This One Skill For Competitive Advantage

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Having a competitive advantage.

It's critical for success in business and success as a leader. But, did you know there's one skill you must master for competitive advantage today? One skill that applies across every industry and every marketplace. Can you guess what it is?

Mastery of the Global Mindset.

I've talked about this before. Data from the GMI Index study, research published by CultureWizard in December 2017, that shows mastery of a Global Mindset drives competitive advantage in business. Among the most important findings from the GMI Index Study, are three, which underscore the rapidly-rising importance of intercultural skills:

  • More than 82 percent of respondents rated the international component of their companies' business as "extremely significant."
  • Nearly half (45 percent) spend more than half their time on international business activity.
  • Almost one-quarter (24 percent) spend more than 75 percent of their work time on global endeavors.

"The Global Mindset Index (GMI) demonstrates that companies which actively support their employees gaining a Global Mindset are far more likely to achieve their business objectives than those that don't. With almost 1,400 participants representing global enterprises from every region of the world, the respondents indicated that their work involved significant interaction with others in the global arena," writes Charlene Solomon, of CultureWizard.

What is Global Mindset?

According to the GMI Index Study, Global Mindset is defined as "the ability to recognize and reflexively adjust to cultural signals so that your effectiveness is not compromised when dealing with people from different backgrounds." According to Dr. Mansour Javidan, Garvin Distinguished Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, essential elements of a Global Mindset include:

Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitan outlook

Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, a quest for adventure, self-assurance

Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, diplomacy

"Leaders who have a high level of Global Mindset are more likely to succeed in working with people from other cultures, he writes, in an article for the Harvard Business Review. "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," he continues.

Of course, it's important to point out that mindsets can apply to both individuals and organizations. Leaders who possess a Global Mindset can, and do, encourage their teams to adopt a Global Mindset. Companies that embrace Global Mindset tend to promote those employees who demonstrate mastery. As the GMI Index Study points out, the same organizations are twice as likely to have highly motivated multicultural teams and tend to experience fewer of the cultural missteps, which can damage productivity and business relationships. In these instances, the company, and its stakeholders benefit from the adoption of the Global Mindset.

Globally-minded businesses have a competitive advantage over companies with a more narrow focus. These firms can develop products and services that meet the needs of customers and prospects located across the world. But competing in a global marketplace is only one of the reasons adopting the Global Mindset is so crucial today.

An organization that embraces Global Mindset can identify emerging opportunities earlier than its competitors. It benefits from having a more sophisticated understanding of the tradeoffs between global standardization and local adaption, faster and more effective new product introductions, and facilitates sharing best practices and activities across cultural boundaries.

The Global Mindset Inventory (GMI)

At this point, you may be wondering how to move forward in mastering the Global Mindset--for yourself as the leader, and for your team or organization. I work with clients located in countries across the globe. I recommend, and use, the Global Mindset Inventory, which is a psychometric assessment tool that measures and predicts performance in global leadership. Developed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Global Mindset Inventory is a web-based survey consisting of seventy-six questions that measure your Global Mindset in three capitals and nine competencies.

After you take the GMI assessment, you will receive a scored report, documentation with feedback, and recommendations and suggestions to improve your Global Mindset. You can use the GMI tool for yourself as an individual and for your staff. You can also bring in a consultant to conduct a workshop to help you and your colleagues identify ways to master the Global Mindset.

As I have said in the past, the Global Mindset isn't just about cross-cultural communication. It's about understanding not only who, but also what and how to do business successfully across all borders, regions, and perspectives. And given the state of our world today and its burgeoning global marketplace, mastering the Global Mindset is not only vital--it is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today and in the days to come.

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