The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Developing a Global Mindset at Management and Leadership Development Program

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Christianne Wohlforth and Sadhana Hall joined MLDP last week to present a session on “Developing a Global Mindset.” As Associate Director for the Dickey Center for International Understanding, Chris Wohlforth drew on her experiences helping Dartmouth students build cross-cultural sensitivity, noting how Dartmouth students tend to be unaware of their own lack of cultural sensitivity before they travel abroad. In order to combat this inadequacy Ms. Wohlforth introduced the cross-cultural sensitivity spectrum, and offered students suggestions as to how to improve their level from cultural understanding. From travelling to reading to following world events, Ms. Wohlforth emphasized the key to cultivating cultural sensitivity was to simply make an effort to explore other cultures. She then invited students to break up into groups to examine the interplay of different cultural norms by examining several cross-cultural dialogues. Through analyses of these dialogues, students learned how Western conventions of communication, like the use of sarcasm, might not translate well on a cross-cultural level.

Rockefeller Center Deputy Director Sadhana Hall further highlighted this point by sharing her own anecdotes of working internationally—from the Caucuses to India to Bhutan. She spoke specifically to how American cultural norms have the power to offend internationally. Ms. Hall invited session attendees to come to the front of the room and canvas the blackboards with important characteristics of a global leader, highlighting the personal qualities that are valued in a leader across cultural bounds. Ms. Hall concluded the session by underscoring that, “Every one will make cultural mistakes...Just remember to be yourself. Be authentic. Make an effort to understand the culture.”

-- Kristen Clifford '13

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