Skip Bowman, Founder & Chief Transformational Officer
The adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” perfectly represents a hippopotamus. As a herbivorous mammal that munches an average of 80 pounds of grass per day, these “river horses” could be misconstrued by some as less vicious than the likes of lions and hyenas. Despite their affinity for plants, hippos are actually the deadliest terrestrial animals on the African continent, killing almost 3,000 humans a year.
Akin to hippos being hard to read, the corporate world also has such peculiar personalities. To Global Mindset—a leadership development training company—hippo is a metaphor to refer to a toxic leader, who it reckons is “the most dangerous animal in an organisation.”
A digital-first, digital-always company, Global Mindset brings attention to toxic leadership in organisations and “tames” the proverbial hippo by focusing on developing mindsets rather than just leadership skills. Through a range of digital learning programs and experiential, situation-specific workshops and coaching sessions, Global Mindset delivers transformative consultancy services to unlock the potential of global leaders, teams, and organisations. An intrinsic component common in all its programs is Growth Mindset, a coaching method intended to help leaders obtain deeper self-awareness and the ability to shift from a regimented, fixed mindset. “Growth Mindset is a tool and model that binds all our digital learning programs together,” says Skip Bowman, founder and chief transformational officer of Global Mindset.
Using “hippo” as a trope in all its digital learning programs to help bring awareness about psychological safety in the workplace, Global Mindset has a page on Facebook titled “Hippobusters.” Similar to the Bat- Signal which summons Batman, the Facebook page encourages organisations that have spotted a hippo in their midst to take the necessary action by availing the proven benefits of Global Mindset’s digital learning programs. The page lists hippo-free organisational transformations, removal of toxic behaviour from teams, and leadership development for toxic leaders, as key service offerings. The most eye-catching service is “Taming hippos: duration varies, depends on how willing the hippo is.” While drawing parallels between the behaviour of a hippo and a toxic leader, Bowman states that humour is a pivotal component of Global Mindset’s training programs and is essential for constructive development.
Indeed, humour is king at the Global Mindset headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. Just ask Louise Rath Mortensen, the company’s organisational psychologist, who quickly discovered that hippos, snails, and dolphins were frequent topics of discussion over lunch. In 2017, a few months after joining Global Mindset, Louise was amazed at how normal it was for the team to refer to animals when discussing workshops and content development. According to Bowman, his vibrant team of organisational psychologists, communication consultants, designers, and teachers revel in the process of designing and delivering transformative learning programs for clients. The team even includes actors and artists who partake in role-playing (a hippo costume sits at the Global Mindset HQ!) and conceptualising content. “We have fun (with clients during learning sessions). Humour and playfulness are crucial to learning. When you can laugh together, and at yourself, you are better positioned to develop,” Bowman adds.
Altering Mindsets through Contagious Change
Fun and games aside, Global Mindset believes that the existence of said hippos fuels uncertainty among the workforce. “This leads to employees becoming more cynical, uncivil, disengaged, and fearful than before. Such a negative environment creates conflict, rigidity, and friction within companies,” stresses Bowman.
Organisational transformation is in our DNA. We want to improve individual effectiveness, but our real impact is measured by the ability to shift an entire team
Due to the prevailing conditions, there is a need for collaboration, agility, and change, especially with the advent of technological developments and globalisation. In such a scenario, employees are typically hesitant to fully invest in learning programs. Therefore, Global Mindset focuses on creating “safe teams” that are truly receptive to the learning process. “All our approaches start with helping people assess how safe their mindset is and develop their ability to lead and foster safe teams. By creating trust, we can achieve better results,” he says.
The idea behind nurturing “safe teams” during interactive learning programs is so leaders could create an equally safe environment at workplaces (post coaching). To enable such “contagious change” within companies, Global Mindset has two core principles. The first is centred on building relationships and trust, while the second principle focuses on psychological safety. “When people feel safe and respected, they engage more candidly and deeply with the learning experience. Whether it is live virtual or face-to-face workshops, we put safety first. We can then challenge them effectively so they can shift their mindset,” says Bowman, who trains and coaches senior leaders and their teams through the principles of what Global Mindset terms “contagious change.”
This change philosophy stems from Global Mindset’s deep-rooted realisation that leadership development is a team sport. Convinced that it is impossible to develop leaders without activating the team and culture around the leader, Global Mindset prioritises the overall transformation of a company over individual leadership development. “Organisational transformation is in our DNA. We want to improve individual effectiveness, but our real impact is measured by the ability to shift an entire team, department, or global firm in a fast and effective manner,” says Bowman.
In this endeavour to encourage a productive and harmonious work culture, Global Mindset uses state-of-the-art assessment tools to map mindsets at every level of an organisation. Bowman continues, “Such a mapping enables us to set goals and track improvements in mindsets across the organisation. We can also create a superior level of personal accountability for all leaders.”
The Digital Leadership Academy
Global Mindset’s unique approach to leadership and organisational development is represented through its programs such as Leading Across, Leadership Fundamentals, Leading Growth, Leading Others, and Leading Change. Each consists of workshops and is aided by personal coaching, digital learning quests, and follow-ups. Global Mindset customises the programs to match learner needs and integrates the programs with experiential workshops and live virtual learning sessions. Each program caters to the transformational process of a specific client. While highlighting that program content such as webinars is “fun and simple enough to use the very next day,” Global Mindset encourages participants to “steal with pride” and share their teachings with others.
All the programs/online courses are built around Global Mindset’s Digital Leadership Academy titled “Nemo,” a digital learning platform that allows participants to develop skills at their preferred place and time. Nemo offers a catalogue of engaging courses through which leaders can develop soft skills in either single classes or bundles. The Nemo library consists of webinars, premium programs, HR tools, workplace essentials, and other enriching content.
Global Mindset, Not Just a Company Name
Though based in Europe, Global Mindset conducts training programs and seminars that are inclusive and founded on a set of pedagogical principles that are global in nature. With an approach that is particularly beneficial to companies with limited international exposure, Global Mindset develops programs that help organisations embrace cultural diversity in workforces. “We excel in global leadership development by incorporating cross-cultural insights into our training processes and learning materials. Our success is based on how people of different nationalities feel respected and safe with us, and can use those teachings to positively impact their organisations,” states Bowman.
Besides tackling the cultural challenges created by globalisation, Global Mindset has long believed that the biggest hurdle that leaders face is “the need for remote or virtual leadership and collaboration.” As more organisations branch out to multiple offices, coordination and productivity tend to be compromised. Global Mindset came across one such client, a leading global manufacturer of skylights. The client was eager to revitalise its culture after years of flat growth and disappointing product development results. Team Global Mindset (aka Hippobusters) was called up to create a leadership development program for its Top 120 leaders. Global Mindset used a fresh approach that included easy-to-learn tools, extensive virtual group coaching sessions, and the narration of stories and metaphors. This project breathed new life into the client’s leadership teams.
All our approaches start with helping people assess how safe their mindset is and develop their ability to lead and foster safe teams. By creating trust, we can achieve better results
“Within six months, leaders across the organisation were teaching colleagues about the importance of feedback, mindset, and coaching. The same coaching technique was rolled out for over 500 middle managers in the following years. Today, the principles we developed are central to how the client perceives leadership,” informs Bowman. Global Mindset has engineered positive change for a clientele that includes large businesses such as Mölnlycke, Danfoss, Getinge, Philips Healthcare, GN Hearing, GN Audio, HBK (Hottinger, Bruel&Kjær), Swisslog, and Amcor.
Steering ahead, Global Mindset will continue to transform organisations by banking on its three core philosophies of Contagious Change, Growth Mindset, and Diving Below the Surface. The third philosophy contends that “to create change, leaders don’t need more action plans—they need to understand their own mindset, their drivers, their values, and their habits.” Moreover, over the last eight years, the company has been conducting an independent study on Growth Mindset and Effectiveness, which will come to life in the form of a new book titled “Safe2Great.” “We will also be developing extensive digital materials to support this research. We are currently beta-testing our tools such as leadership 360 (an assessment tool to gain feedback from leaders), and team and organisational mindset assessments,” says Bowman.
With several such developments, Global Mindset is particularly excited about an ongoing project involving a medical company that is utilising the Danish consultancy’s programs to enhance both leadership skills and sales numbers. Bowman explains, “It is a rather unusual program for us because we have never had to work so closely with sales professionals, country managers, and regional managers before. The new experience excites us.”
The project, which involves Global Mindset entering uncharted territory, is an apt reflection of the company’s ideology toward the development of digital learning programs—building tools through experimentation. “People learn from experiences. We build all our learning programs on the basis of trying new methods and reflecting on them,” concludes Bowman.