Global skills


My friend Kelly had a chance to live in Brussels, where her husband Paul had relocated. Admittedly she had not chosen to go and was tagging along. After several months she discovered that she missed foods, and found it hard to connect with people in Belgium. The adventure of ex-pat live was not for her. Her experiences came to mind as I read an article about developing a global mindset in Harvard Business Review. (Only an excerpt is available but worth the pay per article charge.)

The article was about the skills managers need to grow and thrive in a new and different environment. Results from 200 senior executives and 5000 managers were compiled into competencies. Some attributes are obvious, like global business savvy, but other attributes focused on the self-confidence to take on risks in new contexts or environments.

One of the more challenging competencies involve psychological capital and being open to new ideas, cultures, and different ways of doing things. If you are interested the article also includes a quiz to measure global skills and offers suggestions to develop a cosmopolitan outlook. What surprised me is the conclusion that not everyone could or should develop their psychological capital. I forget that being interested about other cultures, histories and political systems may not be everyone’s cup of tea. As evidence, students in the Thunderbird School of Global Management were able to make increases in intellectual capital and social capital, but averaged only 5% improvement in psychological capital in their scores of the Global Mind-Set Inventory.

Also learning about other people, places, and concepts and then accepting them, if you are not usually inclined to accept them just for the sake of a job, is not being authentic to your core values. That type of inner conflict probably means you are not a good fit for the role, no matter how appealing it is. And finally, we are at a crossroads in time, where we have the tools to learn about other cultures easily, but it is another process entirely to work collaboratively with a team from Nepal.

I may never get the chance to work with in another country, but every day I interact with someone who may not be from my culture.

– Brenda


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