“I believe in the power of storytelling. Stories open our hearts to a new place, which opens our minds, which often leads to action.” Melinda Gates
The goal of this article is to bring attention to the need of 21st century leaders and managers adapted to the challenges of Globalization. This is not an academic argumentative with a lot of statistics and general conclusions. It is rather an attempt to demonstrate the relevance of cross-cultural challenges based on storytelling.
Most examples are driven from observations with almost 10 different organizations including Churches, NGO, Schools, Business Companies in 3 countries known for their cultural diversity: Cameroon, Uganda and America. Therefore the ideas developed in this content could be tested in any other organization in a multicultural milieu.
The 21st century leader/manager has to demonstrate new skills in other to successfully provide quality direction to a team that is more and more diverse and complex.
In several organizations (Schools, Hospitals, Churches, Warehouses, etc…) there is an increasing number of people from different cultural background who have in common the required skills to grow the business. The ultimate goal of every one is to make enough satisfactory earning to prosper while contributing to the company’s growth.
In this context, leadership could be very challenging mostly if the company is not prepared to solve the problems that rise in the cross-cultural milieu. The obvious results are a lot of wasted time and money in addition to negative discrimination that could be avoided if little knowledge about cross-culture was added to the leader’s curriculum.
I met a manager who said something quite interesting. I wish every leader does this simple activity. Every time this manager travels in a new country, she reads the book “When Cultures Collide-Leading Across Cultures” -by Richard D. Lewis- on the plane to learn a little bit about the culture. She always has the book with her, even in her office.
What if the 21st century leader takes some few minutes every day to read about the cultural diversity of his team members?
For example, learning how to say “good morning” in one of your staff languages could make him feel accepted and more efficient than your think. Duplicating this for each of your team members could seem meaningless but this is the perfect image of who the current leader is supposed to be.
On the other hand, working in a company for 2 years and being asked one day by your boss “where are you from again?” could be the most frustrating experience one goes through.
Could you share your experience of working across cultures and how it shaped your skills as a cross-cultural leader?
Read the 5000 words full article on Cross-Cultural Leadership_protected.
Hervé-Boris Ngaté, Cross-Cultural Psychologist and Communications Specialist