Global Cosmopolitans

What a great shift in thinking! And what opportunities for this generation to help reshape’ perceived boundaries, with borderless thinking.

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. And this is where the young are so adept as they don’t expect consistency or continuity. They thrive on disruption.

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.”

This is cultural intelligence at its optimum. Where people have the capacity and the capacitance at all levels of intelligence – personal, social, business and cultural, to embrace situations and contexts to make a difference of how businesses and communities can thrive by being responsible in their level of thinking and actions.

So how will you support and provide opportunities for your global cosmopolitans? 


Anna Harper

Anna leads Cultural Shapeshifters, a consortium of accredited practitioners and extraordinary thought leaders. A shapeshifter and guide, she works as a leadership advisor and systems change agent. Currently based in Sydney, Australia with extensive work throughout Asia.