The Rise of the Global Cosmopolitans

The world is an oyster to a growing number of people who have lived, worked and travelled across the globe and across different cultures. “The technological revolution has made it not just possible, but even routine for people to establish roots and maintain ties across great distances,” says Linda Brimm, INSEAD Emeritus Professor of Organizational Behavior and author of Global Cosmopolitans.

Brimm argues that there are certain qualities that bind Global Cosmopolitans together, which have been honed through their journeys, experiences and the complexities that they face. For example, Global Cosmopolitans:

  • Have adaptive capacity, which expands as a result of having to adapt to new situations and experiences, and learning new skills. They thrive in new circumstances because their reflexes are already agile and loosened up.
  • Have relational awareness, are skilled at making connections and adept at dealing with different types of people and problems.
  • See change as an opportunity. Humans are creatures of habit, and most people will agree that change is hard. Global Cosmopolitans embrace change and express ambivalence about leaving things behind.
  • Have observational capacity and are naturally curious, which means they’re good at finding things out. This helps with integration in foreign countries, where obtaining cultural knowledge is key.
  • Use kaleidoscope thinking. They’re experts at shaking up their point of view and challenging conventional patterns of thinking, by looking at life from a different perspective.

These qualities are becoming more and more desirable in the workplace, where change and diversity are growing management challenges. Brimm explains, “This is a global workforce that knows what it’s like to come to a new school, a new city, country, make a new life and feel that sudden loss of identity. They become masters of recreation and reinvention and the ability to integrate into a new situation with the capacity to maintain a sense of their own identity.”

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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