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

MLDP Recap: Developing a Global Mindset with Chris Wohlforth

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

Professor Christianne Hardy Wohlforth, Director of the Montgomery Endowment and Associate Director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, spoke to MLDP on May 7th about “Developing a Global Mindset.” Her session focused on the idea that moments of discomfort — particularly those where we experience discomfort due to differences in cultural experiences and expectations — are learning moments, rather than simply awkward moments. Using a personal example from her own time at Princeton, when she herself had an awkward experience with a visiting Russian scholar, Professor Wohlforth emphasized the idea that we each individually need to learn how to negotiate cultural difference in a world where our workplace are increasingly heterogeneous and culturally diverse.

Using scenarios between different types of coworkers and supervisor-employee relationships, Professor Wohlforth brought the idea that cultural competency is integral to workplace success home. She also showed video from Dartmouth students reflecting on their personal experiences, both positive and negative, with cultural difference. In one particularly interesting example, a Dartmouth student from Tokyo indicated her belief that while culture is an important differentiator between individuals, that it is also not the only differentiator between individuals (other examples the student gave included growing up in the city versus the countryside, gender and socioeconomic class).

In her presentation to MLDP participants, Professor Wohlforth emphasized the fact that it is incumbent upon us as individuals to take the burden of becoming culturally competent and sensitive to difference. This, she said, requires work and time — both of which require a genuine personal recognition of the fact that cultural competency is worth developing. Some ideas that Professor Wohlforth gave us for developing this skill included travel, opening oneself up to new experiences, learning new languages, and interacting with the vibrant international student community at Dartmouth.

In conclusion, Professor Wohlforth urged each one of us to personally challenge ourselves to take moments of discomfort as learning moments, and to try to make time in our busy lives to develop ourselves as culturally sensitive and competent individuals, in both our personal and professional lives.

- Written by Lorelei Yang ‘15

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