Kromann Reumert is a partner of Thinkers50 European Business Forum, which brings together the world's most sought-after business thinkers to a two-day conference. As part of the conference some of the greatest business thinkers have written essays called "Letters to the CEOs" containing recommendations to the CEOs around the world based on the latest trends in the business world.
Perspective on Linda Brimm's letter to the CEO
In her letter to the CEO
, Linda Brimm argues that the world's business leaders are as a matter of urgency encouraged to consider how to manage the balance between their global perspective and varying national concerns in the countries in which they operate.
Linda Brimm singles out the group of "Global Cosmopolitans" to be particularly well equipped to handle the pressure many global organisations face in countries where national movements and resilience towards multinationals occur.
According to Brimm, Global Cosmopolitans are this generation's rapidly expanding and talented population of highly educated, multilingual people that have lived, worked and studied for extensive periods in different cultures. These Global Cosmopolitans must be looked out for in any global organisation as they have a broad experience enabling them to understand and adapt and they are used to dealing with complex dilemmas. Thus, Linda Brimm articulates that CEOs should be better at identifying more Global Cosmopolitans and understand how to develop their skills further as they will be of genuine value to any global organisation.
Over the years, the importance of having a diverse labour force has been heavily emphasised. By focusing on individuals with diverse backgrounds themselves, Linda Brimm adds the perspective that some of the upsides of having a diverse organisation may also be achieved by identifying and developing Global Cosmopolitans. These individuals are naturally trained to analyse situations where a plurality of factors, not only driven by pure financial and commercial parameters, are to be taken into account.
Identifying talent is essential
Knowing in detail what competences are needed in your organisation is the key to any CEO, and spending time analysing who are not only skilled – but are truly unique talents - for your particular organisation is essential to support your business and take it to the next level.
Linda Brimm challenges the CEOs on their actual involvement in this area or whether this is (by mistake) exclusively left for internal HR in the organisation to sort out. In this context Linda Brimm is touching upon a classical question of identifying when and to what extent your recruitment, development and retention strategies become of genuine strategic nature and whether your organisation is suited to solve all complex issues in the best possible way.
In line with the recommendations provided in Linda Brimm's letter, Kromann Reumert has certainly experienced the highly increased focus on recruiting and retaining an international labour force in the businesses situated in Denmark and in their foreign subsidiaries. Furthermore, there is an increased focus on developing diversity strategies, which is more and more becoming an area of attention for top management and boards of directors.
Many businesses may, however, be even more dedicated at ensuring their ability not only to recruit "Global Cosmopolitans" but also to develop efficient tools to ensure structured global talent development programmes that nurture the talent pool of leaders within the business itself. Structural barriers such as immigration laws and administrative processes may also be counterproductive to ensuring easy access to attract and retain the right (global) talents.
Increased globalization of business has created a reaction in nationalist movements in many countries. Concerns about fairness and a better distribution of the economic gains of globalization have become a worldwide concern. People are raising questions about free trade agreements and money moving across borders. There are increasing attempts to block some of the benefits of diverse global organizations. It is urgent to figure out how do stay competitive on a global scale. CEO’s must address these issues urgently, or they will not be able to compete.
CEOs of global organizations need to identify the potential leaders who have the capacity to work in this ever-changing landscape and lead the changes necessary to build competitive and global organizations that will also be seen as creating greater fairness and opportunity.
An increasing number of talented individuals whom I call global cosmopolitans have lived and benefited from this globalization. While they are the potential leaders for global organizations, global organizations often do not know who they are, do not know how to benefit from their expertise, let alone hire them or retain them.
Global cosmopolitans are this generation’s rapidly expanding and talented population of highly educated, multilingual people that have lived, worked and studied for extensive periods in different cultures. They have grown up in a political/economic context and technological reality that has significantly impacted their worldview, and skillset. This is a population that CEO’s must get to know and develop, since they have the potential to be outstanding leaders.
Their backgrounds and life histories make them particularly suited for the new organizational reality. Along with their deep knowledge of multiple cultures and a global perspective, their experience with complicated dilemmas and change from the lives they lead, contributes to developing the very skills that are necessary to lead in a global economy.
Each cultural experience provides an opportunity to understand the use of multiple lenses and perspectives and to gain respect and build bridges with people from diverse backgrounds. Managing change on multiple levels is normal for them. They have had to re-invent themselves and experiment with new identities and new ways of thinking. Their ‘kaleidoscopic vision’ provides them with a perspective on change, that the patterns will look different, that some aspects of the new vision might be missing pieces, yet with another turn of the kaleidoscope the some key pieces can return or reappear in a very different pattern.
They understand the impact that the global reach of organizations can have. They have frequently developed a global mindset and the necessary cognitive flexibility to address the complex issues of globalization and the very skills that are necessary to lead in a global economy. While they can understand thinking locally, they have the capacity to think globally. They have experience moving knowledge across borders and then adapting it to a local culture.
Unfortunately businesses have had difficulty identifying, developing and managing these individuals.
The conflict between the political and business forces around globalization is very charged and requires people who can live and lead in this confusing space. It requires better identification, development and utilization of this talent.
The questions you need to ask are these:
As a CEO, how do I manage the conflicts between a global perspective and national concerns? Do I need to refine my vision of how to stay globally competitive while being responsive to national cultures? How will I define the path and identify the people that will take on this responsibility and can best make it happen?
Are we able to identify the global cosmopolitans already in our organization? Does my organization know how to manage and develop these people so that we can derive the benefits from their unique experience and keep them from leaving?
As the CEO, are you ready to become actively involved? It is not enough to say it is important to identify and develop global cosmopolitans; it is crucial that you get to know your global cosmopolitans. You and your organization need to develop a way to increase awareness of this high potential group, get involved in their reviews and see how to develop their careers.
While these issues are often delegated to HR or Human Capital groups, CEO’s have to become personally involved to drive the necessary changes. More active involvement in HR reviews, making this a strategic concern for the business. Placing Global Cosmopolitans on boards, as well as in strategic leadership positions will reflect the diversity in the organization and send a crucial signal to people wishing to stay involved in the organization.
Identifying and developing global cosmopolitans requires sensitivity to both individual and cultural differences in order to make this happen. Creative solutions are necessary to identify and develop people of diverse background experience.
Global Cosmopolitans are often not that obvious. One of the skills that they can develop is adaptability. This adaptability is often what I refer to as the one edge of a two-edged-sword of mobility. Sometimes they adapt so smoothly, they do not see or know how to take advantage of the other side of the sword, their difference. Without helping people see the potential strengths they have developed on their global journeys, the strengths can feel so natural to the individuals, that they often do not know how to articulate them or share them, or they continue to use the one edge, without sharing the power of the other one.