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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the awareness that differences make an organization stronger, practice managing a multicultural team with a lot of grace, empathy, and inclusiveness.