Appendix: Assessing and Developing a Global Mindset – Destination Facilitation: A Travel Guide to Training Around the World


Assessing and Developing a Global Mindset

Donna Steffey

At this point, you may be wondering if you have a global mindset? Here are some questions to ponder; there are no right or wrong answers. The four CQ competencies mentioned in the introduction serve as a base for these questions. To get a truer picture of CQ, use one of the instruments discussed later in this appendix. These questions have been designed to be introspective and stir thinking about personal global mindset capabilities.

CQ Drive

The Interest, Confidence, and Drive to Adapt to Cross-Cultural Situations

• Which cultures are you uncomfortable with or naturally drawn to? CQ drive includes admitting the inherent prejudices and biases we have toward particular groups of people and working to overcome those biases.

• What level of confidence do you have in your ability to function well in cross-cultural situations? Why?

• What will be gained from functioning effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity?

CQ Knowledge

Understanding Culture and How It Shapes Behaviors

• Can you compare the values, norms, social etiquette, and religious perspectives of other cultures with your culture?

• Considering the cultures you most frequently work with, can you demonstrate some of the business etiquette rules for acceptable verbal and nonverbal communication?

• Can you coach someone else on how to effectively manage people and relationships in a different culture?

CQ Strategy

Using Self-Awareness and Knowledge to Manage Cross-Cultural Experiences

• Would you know how to plan an effective dynamic cross-cultural meeting or training course?

• Can you anticipate what to expect, based on your level of intercultural knowledge?

• Are you aware of how you come across? Can you adjust behaviors if the situation is not going as planned? Making self-aware adjustments is called “reflection in action.”

CQ Action

Acting Appropriately in a Culturally Diverse Situation

• How naturally can you adjust your verbal behaviors, such as accent, tone, pronunciation, or cadence, without coming across as mimicking another culture?

• How adeptly can you adjust communication styles in stressful situations, like reaching agreement during discussions or managing classroom challenges?

• Can you list nonverbal behaviors you might need to adjust?  

Assessing the Organizational Global Mindset

Some organizations dismiss global mindset or CQ competencies as a set of mysterious, soft skills that cannot be measured or taught. That is not the case; these skills are being developed by smart organizations globally.

In recent years, there has been a flurry of inventories that assess intercultural competencies. Organizations use these assessments to develop cross-cultural awareness and skills in staff. They can highlight which competencies need the most attention and can benchmark performance. Other appraisal inventories include multirater assessments so users can see how their colleagues, supervisors, and customers perceive their CQ. Some intercultural inventories assess individual traits, demographic characteristics, attitudes, beliefs, or implicit biases.

When selecting an intercultural assessment, be clear about what needs to be measured. Investigating the reliability and validity of the instruments is important. A useful way to do this is to read published articles that compare the different assessments. Table A-1 gives a quick overview of various instrument types.

Table A-1. Selecting an Intercultural Assessment

What Do You Want to Measure? Sample Assessment Ideally Used For
Individual preferences (personality traits, cultural values, beliefs, etc.)

• Cultural Values Profile

• Culturewise

• GlobeSmart

• Multicultural Personality Questionnaire

• Individual contributors

• Self-awareness

• Hiring (for “fit”)

Cultural awareness and readiness (attitudes and worldview)

• Implicit Association Tests

• Intercultural Development Inventory

• Diversity programs

• Overseas assignments

Intercultural skills

• Cultural Intelligence Scale

• Inclusion initiatives

• Multicultural teams

• Global leadership roles

Livermore and Van Dyne (2015).

Developing a Global Mindset

Assessing your global mindset is an important first step. Engaging in a global project is a good second step. Seek opportunities to travel to a foreign land or to collaborate with a diverse team at home, face-to-face, or online. These experiences help you further develop your global mindset. You need to be intentional with these experiences so you can be reflective in action.

Expand CQ Drive

Challenge biases. Most of us feel comfortable with people who are like us. Social scientists believe children acquire prejudice as toddlers so that inherent biases can seem automatic. The goal is to be honest with ourselves. Being aware of hidden biases enables people to monitor and attempt to amend hidden attitudes before displaying that behavior. To take a free implicit biases test, visit

Get out of your comfort zone. Try new ethnic restaurants, visit neighborhoods catering to unique cultures, and talk with colleagues from different backgrounds. Take a service-vacation in a new country. Global Volunteers, founded in 1984, is the oldest and one of the largest international human and economic development organizations engaging short-term volunteers on long-term community projects. To date, more than 33,000 volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life have served in 34 countries on six continents. Learn more about Global Volunteers at In 2001, I did my first Global Volunteers project and realized that overcoming our fear of something different can increase our drive for new and unique experiences.

Get back into your comfort zone. When we travel internationally or work cross-culturally, our brain is not on autopilot like it is when we are functioning in our normal environment. We must think about everything we say or do. We might be sleeping in a different time zone, eating food we are not accustomed to, or staying in a hotel with strange noises. Remember to recharge your batteries occasionally. Allow time for exercise. Bring along favorite snack foods. Download TV programs from home for an evening alone. These treats will enable you to wake up rested and ready to meet the new challenges tomorrow.

Grow CQ Knowledge

Do research. Use Google, Wikipedia, and newspapers from the region. Reading newspapers and magazines with international news will help increase your global awareness in general. Visit sites that share customs and cultural information from countries around the globe. Watching foreign films or reading a novel can also provide additional information and some enjoyment.

People watch. Observe people in action. What things do they do that are similar to your culture? What are they doing differently? How are the gestures, space between people, and other nonverbal signs different? Share your observations with a friend from that culture and ask them to explain the observations.

Cultivate CQ Strategy

Use mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you stay focused and aware in the present moment. During intercultural situations, we want to remain calm and recognize and identify our feelings, thoughts, and reactions. We must resist the impulse to speak or act until after we have analyzed the conditions.

Write down observations. Sketch what is seen and heard. I once went with a team of training volunteers from Chicago to East Africa to deliver training to NGO orphanage directors. We kept a team journal during the two-week adventure and required different members to write in it daily. Each person would share their reflections during our meetings at breakfast. We were careful not to overgeneralize about what we saw and the people we met but to discuss and question our observations.

Here’s a sample journal entry: “This is a verbal picture of the ordinary routine for our training team, understanding there is nothing ‘ordinary’ here. The afternoon is spent delivering a practice training session. We share feedback, and everyone receives it with humility. We reward ourselves with a trip to the outdoor market. As we approach, vendors notice our nonlocal style and smile at the thought of sales. We are greeted with a song to give us a true feeling for the region. It becomes a party with both cultures eager to meet, make deals, and understand each other. In the end, we achieve cross-cultural communication, and we leave sharing goodbye hugs.”

Plan, then go with the flow. Anticipate and strategize for the unexpected. Do you have the resources needed? Consider what can go wrong and expect it to go wrong. Communicate with trusted colleagues for backup support. Remember to recharge your batteries both literally and figuratively, which will give you the perseverance needed to make the right behavior choices.

Utilize Correct CQ Actions

Table manners matter. Having a meal with someone from a different culture is important not only for relationship building, but also because etiquette is highly dependent on cultural differences. Conversing during the meal is important. Ask questions about local sports and recent events. My favorite question is, “How have things changed in this country since you grew up?”

Value what they value and avoid taboos. Have a respectful, nonjudgmental attitude toward the values and customs of other cultures. Don’t just focus on what not to do but plan and visualize what to do instead. Before going to India, I read that it was taboo to shake hands with the left hand. It is customary to shake with the right hand in the United States, so this was not a worrisome taboo. However, by focusing so hard on not shaking the left hand, I made three mistakes in one week. Don’t just focus on gestures to avoid, but envision handling situations accurately. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison (2006) is a great resource.

Valuing differences is important, whether talking about ethnic differences or generational differences. David Brown, from Nigeria, had an opportunity to demonstrate “valuing their values” when he faced a challenging generational difference in the classroom. David was not that far off in age from the participants, so he used his typical routines to engage the class. However, some participants still were not engaged. He had to adjust his delivery plan and take a new CQ action. His response was to ask everyone to take out their cell phones and tweet about the one thing they had learned in the past hour that would change the way they worked forever! There was a hushed silence. Participants wondered if this was a trick because there was a no-phones rule. David realized he could be a better trainer by respecting the Millennials’ spontaneity and love for technology and not expecting them to conform to his style. (Read more about David’s experiences in chapter 2.)

Language is dynamic. Language is a means of communication, and it is a carrier of cultural distinctions. Language is central to social interaction in every society, and it reveals respect for elders, hierarchy, gender veneration, and often the culture behind the words we use to communicate. There are two best methods for learning a new language:

• Move to a country, immerse yourself in the language and culture, and slowly pick up the habits of the people around you.

• Find out about the cultural nuances of a language from someone who already knows it. You will not become fluent in a language that way, but learning how to greet people, show respect and appreciation, and ask for help may be a good place to start. There are several different mobile apps, like Duolingo and Mango, that are very helpful for learning some basic words.

Create a Personal Development Plan to Increase CQ

Cultural intelligence cannot develop accidentally; it develops intentionally with your commitment to increasing your global mindset. Here are steps you can take to create a personal development plan:

• Add “growing a global mindset” to your personal development plan for the year.

• Write down interactions you have with people from other cultures. Reflect on the success of those interactions.

• Look for opportunities to travel internationally, even if it is for vacation. Alternatively, consider a service-vacation program.

• Try new foods, meet new people, enjoy foreign films and novels, or learn a new language. Reflections on these activities, done over a year, can increase your drive, knowledge, strategy, and actions, creating a stronger global mindset. These results will benefit individuals and the entire organization.

Develop CQ Within Your Organization

There are many areas of expertise within the talent development arena. Our title does not matter. We can all influence the growth of CQ within our organizations. The first step is to demonstrate our commitment to CQ and operate with a global mindset in everything we do. Additional behaviors to influence your organization include:

• Offer to perform a talent audit to assess what cultures are represented fairly within the organization and what cultures are underrepresented.

• Suggest that leaders take a valid and reliable CQ assessment, such as the Cultural Intelligence Scale.

• Offer follow-up workshops on developing a global mindset.

• Create a gap analysis survey to see how customers view the CQ of your organization. Train employees to demonstrate a global mindset to eliminate that gap.

• Review current training materials for cultural sensitivity and diversity.

• Offer coaching and training for diverse teams. Include a 360-degree multirater assessment for CQ. Keep in mind that multicultural teams with high CQ and increased trust are more likely to share ideas and come up with innovative solutions than homogeneous teams.

• Involve HR and training leaders about how to discuss cultural issues. Many managers are hesitant to discuss culturally related issues with staff. They may not completely understand regulations governing such discussions and therefore avoid the topic. How can we build trust and relationships if we believe we cannot discuss our differences?

• Suggest that “having a global mindset” become part of organizational values. We know that CQ is measurable, so it can even be part of performance reviews.

• Celebrate diversity and reward culturally intelligent behavior throughout the organization.


Livermore, D., and L. Van Dyne. 2015. Cultural Intelligence: The Essential Intelligence for the 21st Century. Society for Human Resource Management.

Morrison, T. 2006. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries. Avon, MA: Adams Media.