Developing Cultural Competency: Leading with a Global Mindset
Part 2 - How It's Done
1) UNDERSTANDING CULTURE AND ITS ROLE IN LEADERSHIP
Culture is a combination of visible and invisible elements, from beliefs and thoughts, to behaviors and actions. Geert Hofstede defines culture as a “group phenomenon - a collective mind programming - that distinguishes one group of people from another, from a behavioral perspective.” He splits it into different layers, from visible to less visible as follows:
- Symbols: food, colors, monuments, what people say, how they dress
- Heroes: public figures, real or imaginary, folklore, religious ideals
- Rituals: recurring events shaping unconscious minds
- Values: broad foundational preferences for certain ways to think/act/choose/do business. Cultural values are formed before the age of 10-12 years old, influenced by the environment in which we grow up, our family members, and other influencing adults such as teachers etc.
Culture shapes what we do and what we think, including how we approach leadership. Leaders must have a clear understanding of the role culture plays. Our background, life experiences, and relationships all contribute to make us who we are today. These factors also have a profound impact on how we lead.
2) UNDERSTANDING YOUR OWN CULTURAL VALUES, PREFERENCES AND BIASES
It all starts with raising self-awareness and understanding who you are as a leader in order to be able to lead with authenticity.
Based on the “Cultural Map” model developed by Erin Meyer, here are 8 key cultural dimensions for how we work globally:
- Communicating: explicit (low context) vs. implicit (high context)
- Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
- Persuading: principle first vs. application first
- Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
- Deciding: consensual vs. top down
- Trusting: task based vs. relationship based
- Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoid confrontation
- Scheduling: Linear time vs. flexible time
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Where are you on these 8 areas?
- What are your cultural values?
- How do they show up in your approach to leadership?
- What’s most challenging for you when it comes to working with different cultures?
- What do you enjoy most?
3) LEARNING ABOUT THE OTHER CULTURE AND HOW IT IMPACTS BEHAVIOR
Remember that perception is relative. Be curious, non-judgmental, humble and open-minded. Ask yourself:
- Where are the cultural gaps you see between yourself and people you work with?
- How does it help you to understand existing harmony or tension?
- What are the challenges in everyday interactions?
- How can you leverage what works well?
4) ASSESSING YOUR 6 WINNING KEY PERSONALITY TRAITS
There are 6 key personality traits that will help you develop a global mindset:
- Social Dexterity
- Emotional Awareness
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself in each trait?
- How do these traits help or hinder you in adapting your style?
- What strengths can you leverage?
- Where do you need to focus your efforts in terms of personal growth and development?
5) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: DEVELOPING STRATEGIES TO BRIDGE GAPS
Genuinely appreciate differences. “It’s not about me, not about you, but the difference between you and me,” Erin Meyer.
It is important to become consistently aware of the impact of your own style on others in order to be able to bridge gaps, adjust the way you communicate, and flex your leadership style.
- What are your negotiable and non-negotiable cultural preferences?
- What do you want to change? What impact will it make?
- What alliances do you need to create with your colleagues/manager to build trust and become more effective?
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Avoid stereotypes when it comes to culture. There are many other parameters that define individual identity versus overall cultural group preferences.
- Be mindful of experiences or differences between sub-cultures within a country. Culture can vary from one region to another or from one state to another.
- The virtual nature of our “new normal” amplifies potential issues and cultural misunderstandings. Make sure to co-create meaningful rules of engagement and ways to build connection.
- Build TRUST virtually. Set clear expectations, communicate transparently, recognize individual and team contributions, encourage participation in a culturally-sensitive way, and find a way to give feedback that is sensitive to the cultural needs of others.
Review Part 1 of Developing Cultural Competency: Leading with a Global Mindset here.
The Cultural Map from Prof. Erin Meyer.
Why do you need cultural intelligence and how to develop it. Forbes.
Leading with a global mindset. Culture Wizard.
ICBI™(Individual Cultural Blueprint Indicator). Cultural Business Consulting.
Riding the Waves of Culture. TED Talk from Dr. Fons Trompenaars.
Understanding Cultural Differences. MindTools.
Check out our blog articles on Culture here.
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About Sophie Morelle
As a Leadership and Executive Coach, Sophie partners with leaders and organizations who want to develop their global mindset and to thrive in complex, changing and multi-cultural environments.
Her diverse clientele has included corporate and private clients from global companies and non-profit organizations around the world. She also supports global entrepreneurs and start-ups. She’s a native French speaker and works in 3 other languages (English, Spanish & Italian)., Spanish & Italian).