Are we Cross-Cultural Leaders?

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I recently conducted a Cross-Cultural workshop for Fortune 500 on their top 20 leaders and one of the opening statements I shared with them was the popular understanding of diversity usually in the U.S refers to differences of color, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation or religious preferences, age, and disabilities. But what does it mean to you as a leader? How do you support diversity strategies? Do they really work?

It’s important when Diversity and Inclusion diversity are supported by senior management, HR and diversity expert in your organization; but it is you who is accountable to bring it to life, above and beyond your day to day responsibilities.

One of the critical characteristic of a multicultural leaders is that “leaders accept themselves and others” as they are and as they are not. It is about learning from others who are not the same, about dignity and respect for all, and about creating workplace environments and practices that encourage learning from others and capturing the advantages of diverse perspectives. It is about developing multi-cultural leadership competencies to manage cultural differences and strategies for the twenty first century.

With a multicultural workforce and customer base, leaders must provide the vision, motivation and reasons for commitment. Employees that feel powerless often accumulate more power enforcing bureaucratic organizational structures. When leaders share power it builds a profound trust level and responsibility among its multicultural workforce. One key component to success is to share power. I know it may sound fanatical, but this power sharing comes from the openness to encourage cross-cultural pollination through a high tolerance and the appreciation for multicultural differences in thoughts, beliefs and values.

It takes patience and practice to include ideas that are different from your own, and the perseverance to embrace everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Strengthen multicultural leaders capability through executive coaching, promote the advancement of multicultural competencies and by educating leaders on cross-cultural training helps them better manage cultural differences in the workplace This will have positive ripple effect throughout your company.

--Marlene Gonzalez, President LCG Group