Today’s business world is a far cry from yesteryear. An increasing number of organizations operate worldwide, and they are more diverse internally. And that means professionals — including CPAs — must be adept at dealing not only with employees from various backgrounds, but with workers and clients in different countries as well.
But how do leaders ensure that they and their organizations are culturally savvy and prepared to deal with diversity? This was the subject of “Developing Your Global Mindset,” a one-hour talk given by Kim Drumgo, director of Diversity & Inclusion at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Drumgo’s talk was the second in a series of CPA Diversity & Inclusion webcasts aired by the Association.
“In this digital age, geographical borders are no longer clearly defined, so having a global mindset while working globally has become critically important for the success of business leaders, especially in the accounting profession,” Drumgo said following her talk.
Drumgo defines “global mindset” as the “ability to adapt to a culture and influence individuals or groups whose ways of doing business are different than your own.” By having this mindset, by asking questions and engaging in dialogue with others, leaders can improve employee morale, generate greater insight into untapped markets, and gain more credibility with clients. Those who do not develop a global mindset could miss out on client and talent potential, she noted.
She outlined three work environments:
- Multicultural environments contain several cultures or ethnic groups alongside one another, but who operate independently.
- Cross-cultural environments include people from different cultures and some acknowledgement of the differences, though one culture remains dominant.
- Intercultural environments are the “gold” standard for organizations to achieve, as they encompass a deep understanding and respect for different cultures and ideas.
Drumgo also described the “global mindset inventory,” a concept created by the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Individuals with global intellectual capital or global business savvy have strong analytical and problem-solving skills and an ability to understand international business. Next is global psychological capital, which is an individual’s innate passion for diversity. Then, global social capital is described as a more enthusiastic and outgoing quest to “collaborate with people from different perspectives,” she noted. Those who possess each type of capital are often more effective leaders since they engage and learn across cultures. Psychological capital is the most difficult to grasp as you are “changing your thought process, breaking down biases, and beginning to challenge your old way of thinking,” Drumgo said.
Drumgo offered the following five tips for changing your global mindset:
Forget the golden rule and use the platinum rule. “Treat people the way they want to be treated. Find the positive in other approaches,” she said.
Don’t underestimate the challenge. Dealing with cultural and individual differences can be difficult, and you cannot assume that you know how to handle every situation that can arise. “Having many stamps in your passport doesn’t mean you have a global mindset,” Drumgo said. So don’t underestimate the challenge of leading and working with others across the globe.
Apply multiple strategies. “There isn’t one silver bullet as to how you can interact with everyone. There is not one proven strategy that will help you relate to your entire team better,” Drumgo said. “Applying multiple strategies is really important.”
Be sensitive to differences in language. Communicating isn’t always easy for those who use English as a second language. Be empathetic, kindhearted, and understanding.
Be patient and ask for feedback. “You can’t flip a switch and know how to interact with everyone around the globe,” Drumgo said. “You can’t be everything to everyone all of the time,” she said. “But be the best you can to somebody when it’s time.” Then, she added, you will make a huge difference in developing your global mindset.
— Cheryl Meyer is a California-based freelance writer. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Chris Baysden, senior manager of newsletters.