I agree with the assertion made by Cohen that possessing a global mindset is a key and integral part to being successful in business, particularly if global expansion is an organizational goal or aspiration. To be successful in today's marketplace, leaders must understand that the world is no longer made up of only local/regional/national customers and competitors. It has been shaped by the digitized age we live in. Customers come from everywhere, for just about everything. Similarly, competition does too. This means to be truly successful, business leaders must know how to integrate a number of geographies, cultures, demographics, tastes, preferences, and business strategies from across the globe (Gumbel 2008). Leaders need an appreciation for diverse business relationships and more specialized skills to achieve their goals.
Universal cooperation is a daily business reality. The vast majority of this is due to technological advancement and the new virtual world we live in, but globalization has also created new layers of complexity for organizational leadership. Challenges may include the co-mingling of diverse partners and workers, language barriers, faster and more routine crossing of cultural boundaries, more stakeholders, a need for more knowledge, and a need for new business functions and capabilities (Rabotin 2008). Leaders need the same skills as they have always needed -- organization, passion, delegation, efficient communication, bravery, and honesty (Massingham 2013). However, the context in which those skills are applied is much different on a global scale.
According to Rabotin, leaders striving for success today must be able to master three new levels of global competence (2008). Global mindset is the capacity to work in ways that transcend geographic, cultural or demographic boundaries in order to take advantage of global opportunities (Beechler & Baltzley 2008). It boils down to having the natural curiosity, vision and cognitive ability to seize new opportunities for growth through ingenuity, flexibility and innovation. Without a global mindset, there are many missed opportunities to reach new customers, tap into new resources and stave off competitors who are more aggressively reaching beyond their own networks to grow their businesses. Similarly, global business acumen refers to newer financial, functional and technical skills necessary to navigate through the ever-changing world of go-to-market strategies, marketing tactics, business models and business partnerships (Gumbel 2008). The way we do business, collaborate, communicate, share ideas and even build products is constantly evolving. A successful leader stays abreast of the trends and how they impact his or her organization and the world at large. Finally, global citizenship is the cultural competence needed to work through the inevitable sea of geographic, political, economic, governmental, and environmental challenges that come from global business (Rabotin 2008). Global citizenship can inform business strategy and guide execution.
As Cohen offers, a global mindset is perhaps the most important quality involved in being a successful business leader today because it includes the ability to see beyond the boundaries of the organization, national culture, and immediate corporate gain to broader contribution and participation to society as a whole. Having a global mindset also means visualizing how work can serve purposes beyond self-interest and taps into social issues, concerns, positive change and ultimately makes a contribution to the greater good (Beechler & Baltzley 2008). Leaders need a mind that is creative, disciplined, respectful, ethical, and analytical. He or she must also be open to complexity and ambiguity -- unafraid of opposing points-of-view (Massingham 2013). Further, a desire and ability to seek and master myriad forms of new information, knowledge and data is key.
To be successful, a leader must understand the cultures and people. A global mindset means that leaders are capable of recognizing complex interconnections presented by the global environment and embrace them with a world orientation, not a home-country orientation (Cohen 2010). A global mindset is a respectful one. Leaders cannot engage with others in distant lands operating from a stand point of cultural, intellectual or business superiority; rather, business leaders who possess a global mindset will embrace human, group and strategic differences, trying to better understand and harmonize with them (Massingham 2013). This is the essence of cultural competence and openness.
As posited by Massingham, there are two core principles found among successful leaders who demonstrate a global mindset: the ability to understand what's different and understand what unites (2013). Global leadership involves a balance between the foreign and the familiar. To elaborate on this, we can consider the argument put forth by Beechler & Baltzley that a leader in the 21st century should be able to play seven very critical roles to achieve global success (2008). For starters, they must be strategists who can balance short-term and long-term interests with very clear action plans. They must be innovators, able to inspire change in others, moving them towards global possibilities, products and markets. An effective leader with a global mindset is able to play the role of communicator, engaging diverse audiences with conviction and enthusiasm. This involves communicating to the right people, with the right message and through the right channels which might involve various networks and technical systems (Gumbel 2008).
A fourth role is that of relationship builder. Teaming cannot be over-emphasized and requires exceptional people skills. The ability to create relationships based on mutual respect and a desire to understand others is necessary to connect globally and in a meaningful way. The role of global citizen, as also mentioned earlier, is critical to success in business because it involves honoring unique customs, practices, perspectives and approaches. The role of coach or mentor is also important, as leaders have to prepare the next generation of leaders to carry forth the important task of championing a global orientation in everyday business practice. Finally, the role of decision maker is critical. A leader possessing a global mindset can use their global view of the world to navigate through ambiguity and uncertainty and make decisions that support and align with the organization's mission, goals and objective.
In sum, leadership should celebrate common values to create global synergy, demonstrate a future orientation that balances global and local interests, align a broad range of difference among constituents, and demonstrate a mindset that sees beyond current boundaries to a higher global purpose (Cohen 2010). Cohen's article cites the McDonald's Corporation as being particularly competent in this area. The company has successfully managed world of culturally specific tastes and preferences by allowing countries to invent their own buns, bags, and business practices in order to fully cater to local markets (Cohen 2010, Gumbel 2008). This is a global mindset in action. Local markets may be markedly different from local ones, but those differences should be accounted for (communicated by those most intimately involved) and embraced to ensure business success. Understanding cultural diversity is the cornerstone of doing good global business.
An example of an organization where leaders failed to embrace a global mindset is the car maker Chevrolet (Rabotin 2008). When the Chevy Nova was introduced to the Mexican market for the first time, leaders were dismayed with sales. Unfortunately, the organization had entered a market without fully seeking to understand the local consumer, regulatory constraints or the importance of brand recognition. Later, it was understood that "nova" in Spanish means "no go" (Gumbel 2008). This example helps us appreciate that language barriers and other complications have the power to derail companies that enter global markets without doing due diligence. This is why, as Cohen asserts, a global mindset can be an asset and competitive advantage.
Cohen discusses how leaders develop a global mindset and argues that exposure to global experiences alone does not equal a globally savvy manager, team leader or strategist. Rather, a global mindset occurs over the course of the lifespan, with some individuals having a greater developmental readiness and aptitude for it than…