In the April 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review, three Thunderbird professors have published an article titled "Making It Overseas" as part of the "Managing Yourself" series. The full article can be purchased for USD $6.50 if you don't have a subscription. For anyone who manages projects across borders, or who oversees people that do as an executive or HR manager, this article is worth the expense.
While attending Thunderbird myself, there was always a sense that successful cross-border managers and employees possessed a set of somewhat vague and intangible assets in character, personality and approach to life that could not be easily pinned down and measured. Those on campus possessed these abilities to varying degrees, but there was always the common denominator of passion for cross-border ventures that I didn't see elsewhere in my MBA experience outside of Thunderbird. Now, three T-Bird faculty have made a successful effort to deploy a system of measuring the "global mindset," collecting data that is bound to help organizations better manage their cross-border enterprises and activities.
According to the authors, the attributes that define global leaders can be narrowed down as follows:
Intellectual Capital: general knowledge and capacity to learn
- Global business savvy
- Cognitive complexity
- Cosmopolitan outlook
Psychological Capital: openness to differences and capacity to change
- Passion for diversity
- Thirst for adventure
- Self assurance
Social Capital: ability to build trusting relationships with and among people who are different from you
- Intercultural empathy
- Interpersonal impact
Subscribing to the article allows you access to take the 76-item "Global Mindset Test" free of charge until May 31st. This is a great interactive benefit of paying for the article. Although these days all Thunderbird students take the test at admission and matriculation, I graduated before its implementation. So, as part of subscribing to download this article, I took the test online. Once I receive the hard copy of my results, I will share those in a follow-up post. Of course, it is important to be honest with these kinds of surveys in order for it to be effective in identifying areas where one can improve in their cross-border abilities.
I also believe that this assessment can be applied to people in professions outside of the private sector, such as those who work for the government, educational institutions and non-profits. In a world where events in other countries can impact us anywhere with great rapidity, a global mindset will not be something we aim to develop later in our lives, but rather, like the informal way in which the article's character Debra developed her mindset at a young age, will be something that is more conscientiously cultivated in the earliest years of a person's life. Language programs expanding at the kindergarten and elementary school levels all around the world--for example, English in Asia, Chinese in the U.S. and Indonesian in Australia--are a testament that this is already in progress. I look forward to comments on what readers are seeing in their own work, social and educational environments around the world.
Note: Please take a look at the blog Global Strategies, where one man in Oregon is on a mission to change education in that state to better develop the global mindset in local youth.