Everyone agrees that a global mindset is key in today’s business world, but what remains unclear is how to develop the perspective, competencies, and analytical skills that make this attitude so valuable to employers.
So just what is the magic formula? When we talk about a global mindset, we are basically talking about developing competencies in three areas: critical thinking, self-awareness and cultural intelligence.
- THE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS
to consider strategy on a global scale
Study after study identifies critical thinking –the ability to think beyond what we’ve been taught– as the most common attribute that recent graduates lack. A solid foundation in critical thinking will go a long way towards creating an effective global strategy and developing innovative solutions.
Then the real question is: how can we learn to go “beyond what we have been taught”? There is only one way to develop the problem-solving skills and creativity required in top companies today: practice, practice, practice.
In terms of formal education, the more practical the better. Small classes that integrate the in-depth analysis of real-world problems are ideal. These classes should be taught by professors that facilitate debate and challenge students to defend their viewpoints. Professors with professional experience can draw from their background to enrich and guide discussions.
International MBA alumnus Daniel Pacheco highlights the importance of practical learning. “A practical approach is the best way to learn,” he says. “EADA gave me the opportunity to learn managerial and leadership skills through the study and analysis of case studies in multidisciplinary teams.”
- THE SELF-AWARENESS
to leverage your strengths and those of your team
In the midst of the vast numbers of technically qualified candidates in today’s job market, hard skills are not enough. In recent years, recruiters are looking more and more at soft skills to see which candidates stand out. Soft skills are harder to come by, with communication skills, leadership skills and teamworking abilities named among the top skills recent university graduates lack.
The importance of soft skills is even recognised in traditional fields such as finance, where a recent survey by McKinsey & Co. revealed that nonfinancial demands such as strategic leadership, organisational transformation and performance management had become a significant part of a CFO’s duties.
“EADA has recognised the need for soft skills to be at the centre of professional training courses for many years,” says Nigel Hayes, director of the International Master in Management. “The current shortage of these skills across industries is confirmation that we have been addressing the right needs.”
Developing soft skills depends on a keen awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and a detailed plan for taking advantage of both. Any postgraduate programme worth its salt will make communication, teamworking and leadership skills an integral part of the curriculum, laying out a comprehensive action plan of analysis, identification and follow up on the relevant competencies.
EADA alumna Ariana Cubeddu describes her breakthrough during a soft skill modules at EADA in this way: “I learned to understand my role in a team, recognise the strengths of my teammates and find synergy. I focused on using the differences between us to bring us together rather than separate us.”
- THE CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
to influence others and get buy-in
This one is a no brainer. Increasingly, teams are made up of colleagues from around the world. This is great in terms of output –the diverse perspectives can produce well-rounded, informed results that are culturally sensitive– but challenging on a conflict management level.
But, as Sunil Nayak, CEO of Sodexo’s Corporate Services Asia-Pacific, reminds us, “success for any leader [today] is about being a good influencer”. This means realising that you will achieve your goals faster through sensitivity and awareness of the other person’s method, a technique that will aid greatly in getting buy-in from stakeholders.
Anyone who has worked with diverse teams can attest to the accuracy of Nayak’s statement. If you don’t have that experience yet, get it. You might collaborate with classmates from all over the world in a classroom setting, or gain insight into the importance of influencers through a professional development opportunity abroad. The point is, the international exposure will provide you with the tools and know-how to identify the root of cross-cultural conflict and develop the best strategy.
EADA alumnus Alexander Seelmann-Eggebert champions a multicultural approach to problem-solving. “At EADA, I learned how to work in multicultural teams, how to take advantage of synergies and achieve goals by combining different approaches and backgrounds,” he says. “The cultural diversity helped me develop competencies that have made it easy for me to perform in job assignments in Europe, Latin America and Asia.”
As a manager, you need to have the critical thinking skills, self-awareness and cultural intelligence to analyse each unique cultural clash in order to maximise the benefits of a multicultural team.