Tips on Achieving a Global Mindset

By Sanjay Lavakare.

Tom Friedman, in his best-selling book The World Is Flat, talks about how the global workforce model has converted the world into an open playfield for organizations, where teams are no longer country specific but comprised of players of diverse nationalities.

What does it take to become a member of such diverse teams–besides an open mind? Does a readiness to relocate ‘anywhere in the world’ ensure success or is there more to it?

Well, there is. It is the ‘Global Mindset.

The Financial Times lexicon defines global mindset as “one that combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see common patterns across countries and markets.

Global Mindset- 3 Constituents

Organizations assess the Global Mindset of candidates on a weighted score basis based on parameters, some of which are:

  • Willingness to adapt, learn, and cope with other cultures
  • Behavioral adaptability to different cultures
  • Sensitivity to cultural practices, beliefs and sensibilities
  • Willingness to work across time-zones & geographical borders
  • Desire to learn about other cultures and other parts of the world
  • Understanding of how to build, manage, and foster global collaborations and network.
  • Ability to manage global demands of the company vis-a-vis local challenges and opportunities
  • Knowledge of global industries and business trends/practices/forecast.

It is not so difficult to adopt these characteristics and acquire a high Global Mindset score. Let’s begin with five simple tips for aspiring global citizens, to improve their global mindset quotient.

1) Get geo-savvy. How many of you can place your finger on Brno on the world map? And then, how many of you actually thought that I had mis-spelt ‘Brno’ ? (“Isn’t there a ‘u’ between the ”r’ and ‘n’ ?”). A flippant trivia, nonetheless a fact that goes a long way in adding to the global awareness portfolio if you are remotely connected to the place because of the opportunities it offers. Incidentally, Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, is a strategic hub of delivery centers for several top-players in the IT/ITes domain and the chance of some of us landing there during our careers may not be so remote after all!

Bridge the gap. Learn about cities and countries that are making news in your domain. Find them on the map. Know the topology and the basic political setup. Your next work assignment could take you there.

2) Mind your own business…as well as others’. Whether you are already working or planning a global assignment, it is a good idea to know what your peer organizations or those in your domain of interest/employment are doing in countries other than yours. For example, how is Company X growing its footprint in emerging markets like Africa? What are some of the strategic differentiators it has adopted to stave off competition? It may help you get a broader picture of business strategies of organizations and choose the one for which you would want to work.

3) Get “cross-cultured.”Learning about culture and cultural practices of different countries can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. It also sensitizes you to changes in personal and professional practices of people during certain periods and raises your awareness of suitable etiquette when visiting that place. Speaking of ettiquette, I strongly recommend the book Going Dutch in Beijing by Mark McCrum.

4) Brush up your linguistic etiquette. Good communication skills are a primary requirement for any job-role, and in a global community assume even greater significance. One may be good in articulation, expressions and English usage in his/her own country but spoken language varies from one place to the other. We all agree that even accents vary–within the same country. Similar words/phrases have different meanings/insinuations.

A workaround is practicing reasonably paced yet clear manner of speech, avoiding colloquial verbiage, as it may not be understood or worse, be misunderstood. It also helps to know common pleasantries (Hello, Good Morning, Good Evening, Thank You, etc.) in some of the international languages.This is a great ice-breaker in many conversations.

5) Watch world movies. Could there be a more fun way of upping your global awareness? There are enough channels on television that show movies from across the globe, particularly those by reputed movie-makers from these countries (see external links below).

I can personally vouch for this. I was able to put to (good) use some of the learnings (typical gestures, accents/tones, meal-time etiquettes, historical contexts, etc.) from such movies, when I got an opportunity to actually visit these countries.

Take your pick from some of the recommended movies on these sites:

The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema
The 10 best films of the year

Once you equip yourself with these pointers, you are all set to go….go global.

Sanjay Lavakare

Sanjay-Lavakare_RecruitmentSanjay Lavakare is the Global Recruitment Branding & Channels Strategist with IBM and also manages IBM’s premium internship program–Extreme Blue– as its Global Program Manager. His professional experience of over 28 years (with 8 years in IBM) spans across diverse domains including Data Center Management, Remote Infrastructure Delivery and, since the last 4 years– Global Recruitment. As he puts it, his stay of 13 years in Oman, in the Middle East, coupled with his global roles in IBM and extensive relocations during his academic years, have helped him in adapting and getting sensitized to cultural and professional diversity. He stays in Bangalore, India and dabbles in writing, music and a bit of art. You can check out some of his works on his art-blog:

One thought

  1. Hi Sanjay – loved your blog. Even though I know about Brno – when I first saw it I did think it was a typo – I thought it should be Borneo. Thanks also for the links to movies – I am going to add some of these to my “must see” list. Like you I love watching world moves and as you say you learn so much about different cultures from them. I just had a week off and saw three movies from different parts of the world – Wadjada (Saudi Arabia), The Past (Iran) and Le Weekend (France). I loved them all! I also enjoy reading books set in different countries or focused on different cultures.

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