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A cosmopolitan can conquer the world!

In current popular culture, people think the word cosmopolitan is a pink alcoholic drink or a magazine with the pretty, well endowed girl on the cover. Well, It is more than that. A cosmopolitan is a person who could be considered the perfect corporate citizen.

Its true meaning is important because it has great implications for those dealing with diversity and globalization. I named one of my programs Cosmopolitan Thinking when in Silicon Valley back in 2000 because it was the best definition of a perfect corporate citizens, one who retains their identity while able to adapt to the possible radical ideas of others.

My definition came from a book called Culture Shock-Singapore that I came across while training there. In the book, a cosmopolitan was described as someone who was “culturally ambidextrous.” And cosmopolitans are authentic individuals who know who they are and what they have to share. “They are quick to learn to become skillful and competent in both host (organizational) and their home culture. They meet and mix equally with people from both cultures and retain their own values and beliefs, but they stretch their behaviours to include those of the host people.” They are identified by their optimism, enthusiasm, humor and positive regard for individuals regardless of ethnicity, sex, religion, or political affiliations. This sounded like a perfect model for a successful corporate employee, doesn’t it?

If an organization, especially today, is a microcosm of the world, then its people must learn how to communicate successfully across silos, departments and locations. The process must go from vision to execution without undue noise, resistance or discord.

Could there actually be a way to do this consistently while allowing for transparency and differences? I contend that there is. The key is obsessively building awareness into every fiber of the organization. Who has taken the time to become aware of how the deepest cultural norms support or sabotage different perspectives? Are there strong gatekeepers in the organization who have been assigned to monitor the unconscious thoughts, beliefs and prejudices that live below the surface of the mission/vision? I think not. To have a culture of cosmopolitans, you have to create a culture of hyper-awareness because everyone must be alert to each and every block to creativity, collaboration and responsiveness.

There must be a cooperative spirit, a joining together emotionally, intellectually and creatively to move the organization toward continual excellent and a culture that makes this a stress less process. In the world of the corporate cosmopolitan, culture is not just a buzzword; it is a navigational tool that can stabilize an organization and course correct.

Who needs Cosmopolitan thinkers? I believe that any organization that wants to foster happy, successful people able to be flexible and open to create success outside of their own mindset.


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