Five Ways to Effective Multicultural Leadership

Five Ways to Effective Multicultural Leadership

By Jose Ruiz Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.

Leadership approaches depend on the dominant culture or confluence of cultures and subcultures. According to leadership expert Juana Bordas, in today’s globalized world, multicultural leadership combines influences, practices, and values of the diverse culture in a respectful and productive manner. It also requires awareness on various situations, contexts, and assumptions. To deal with the challenges in managing a multicultural organization, a leader must increase their ability to appreciate differences and adopt inclusive approaches. They must also constantly remind themselves that there are universal values that most cultures appreciate. Such values, for instance, are politeness, kindness, honorable, and accepting of others. However, “universality” is relative across cultures and subcultures, which explains the term “cultural relativity.” For instance, the notion of transparency in western culture is expressed with openness, directness, and straightforwardness. In eastern culture, transparency is of various degrees. Some eastern cultures are more transparent; others are less. And less-than-transparent attitude is not necessary a bad thing. Often, it is considered more “polite” to be discreet and less direct. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures, for instance, it is important to “save face” whenever there is a problem by not pointing directly to the party causing it. A leader would know that their leadership is working when the multicultural followers perform efficiently and productively. Exercise these five things confidently and make them your second nature.

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First

First, trust yourself, be trustworthy, and be honorable. Be honest while also being polite and tactful to earn respect from others. Trust and honor are two universal values that all cultures appreciate, so be a person that embodies them.

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Second, find and declare similarities instead of differences. Unite instead of divide. We all are human beings, and we have thoughts and feelings. Happiness, sadness, anger, and humor exist in all cultures. Be creative in finding similarities and sharing yours.

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Third, be grateful and express thankfulness. Learn how to say “thank you” and “you are welcome” in as many languages as possible. Use them to break the ice whenever you meet people of different cultures. A sincere smile and a caring tone of voice are also great as icebreakers. With your followers, expressing thankfulness is a sign of humility and being honorable.

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Fourth, be accepting and inclusive. Whenever there is an opportunity to include others, do so. Use an “open door policy” when dealing with team members of various backgrounds. Encourage them to come to you at any time and include them in your activities. Be as democratic as possible.

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Fifth

Fifth, be a good listener and a compassionate talker. Listen to what people say and see the world from their eyes. Pay close attention and relate to what they say by reciprocating sincerely. Sincerity, empathy, and compassion are signs of big-heartedness, which people appreciate and would reciprocate.

In conclusion, in today’s globalized world, many organizations employ people of various cultures, which require a special set of people skills. With awareness that differences make an organization stronger, practice managing a multicultural team with a lot of grace, empathy, and inclusiveness.

About Alder Koten

Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. The firm was founded in 2011 and currently includes 6 partners and over 28 consultants in 4 cities. The firm’s headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. We know where to find the executives you need and how to attract top talent to your organization. Our approach to executive search is based on a thorough understanding of the strategic, cultural, financial and operational issues our clients face. Our executive search engagements are targeted and focused on the specific requirements of the position including industry and functional experience, skills, competencies, cultural fit, and leadership style. Our process is rigorous. We take a disciplined and structured approach to identifying potential candidates that meet the position requirements including subject-matter, functional and regional expertise. We use our high-level professional networks, industry knowledge, and internal research resources to achieve results in every executive search engagement.

Jose Ruiz is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.