Companies today need to be good at whatever their main business is, but they also need to be quickly adaptable to change. And, these days, they need to adhere to a strict set of ethical standards that are demanded by an increasingly informed and diverse customer base. Such a tough bundle of abilities requires strong, strategic leadership.
- Simultaneous growth, cost reduction and increased innovation.
- Better alignment of organizational values and operational behavior.
- To create environments in which employees are comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas—inclusive spaces.
The graphic illustrates the four leadership skills needed to achieve these too-often elusive goals. To view the infographic in larger format click here, then click on the image that opens.
Leadership Skill #1: Ethical Leadership
Interestingly, the top skill identified is ethical leadership—studies correlate business success to ethical initiatives. Aligning organizational values with operational behavior, and ensuring ethical practice across the organization, is all the more challenging given the international nature of business today. Add in the diversity of the worldviews and “cultural sense” of the mobile workforces of this millennium, and things become even more complex.
Let’s face it, employees in different geographies, from different cultural backgrounds, view the concept of “ethical” differently. They operationalize corporate values differently. Cultural Detective Global Business Ethics (CD GBE) is a perfect tool to aid organizations in achieving the alignment that’s needed. The package is designed to help leadership think through the cross-cultural permutations—the ways members of different cultures may operationalize organizational values and ethics—and develop strategy to build alignment.
CD GBE can also be used to help train staff worldwide, so they know how your organizational values translate into everyday operations. It can help open the dialogue among all levels of the organization to ensure your values are understood and implemented consistently—and with local appropriateness.
Leadership Skill #2: Use Your Power Wisely
Power is a leadership trait no matter where in the world you work, whether that power is real or perceived. In certain locations power may be based on title or position in the hierarchy. In others it is based on expertise—but does this mean a person is perceived powerful due to credentials and education, or to skills and experience? The Values Lenses and critical incidents in every Cultural Detective package can help you and your organization learn to project and perceive power wisely, no matter where or with whom you work.
Another key aspect of power resides in the relationships we build, the influence we have on others. Whom we trust, whom we allow to sway us, is perhaps one of the most culturally determined aspects of our lives.
Do we trust the person who speaks plainly (who could be perceived by some as rude or uneducated), or the person who speaks diplomatically (and could be perceived as “brown-nosing” or unprincipled)? Are we swayed by the person who tries to convince us via logic and argument, by someone who shows us by example, or by the person who enthusiastically invites us to use a new service? Again, the Cultural Detective series will help leaders and a global workforce better understand and navigate such differences.
Leadership Skill #3: Manage Crises
The Chinese characters for “crisis” remind us it can be a danger or an opportunity. Leaders can convert crisis into opportunity by knowing themselves and being solidly grounded in their values. A well-rooted tree will sway in the wind and not become uprooted. Cultural Detective Self Discovery is the perfect tool to enable leaders to clarify their personal core values, and to reconcile them with organizational values, the values of the various cultures in which they do business, and the values of other members of their team. Leaders will be better able to manage crises; to anticipate their reactions so they can wisely choose, in the moment, how to respond; and to be better able to explain their actions to others who may not share or enact their values in the same way. Try it out with a pilot group of your leaders, and you will be amazed by the results.
Leadership Skill #4: Cultivate Change
Change is cultivated by providing opportunities for employees to practice what they’ve learned. Cultural Detective Online (CD Online) enables you to provide just that opportunity—teach a skill, then encourage your employees actively practice it for several weeks, using the CD Online system for reflection and learning. Several weeks of on-the-job practice leads to employee retention, and provides a practical method to resolve employee conflicts and encourage understanding.
Change is also effected by leaders realizing that workers’ motivations may be different than theirs. Research in the graphic supports this idea. And, that is the core Cultural Detective process, as you’ve by now surmised—perspective taking. There are two specific packages in the series, as well, to aid in this regard—Cultural Detective Global Diversity and Inclusion, and Cultural Detective Global Teamwork. Wonderfully, both are included in the very reasonably priced (less than US$100/year for access to 60 packages) CD Online.
What are you waiting for? Are you a strong, strategic global leader? Do you want to help others to be? Learn how to use Cultural Detective Online by joining one of our free webinars or get your subscription now!
thanx for this great blog post and the infographic. When talking to companies about intercultural skills training, I sometimes get the response that they’re busy with Leadership Training at the moment, that IC training will just have to wait. Is it really? How do I get them to recognize that IC competence is very much an integral component of global leadership skills? Your post is definitely a good start. Any other suggestions?
Ah, Christina, isn’t that the question? Sometimes I feel like I’m getting to old, as I long for the days, decades ago, when organizations didn’t know what intercultural was. Then, I could make the case for why they needed cross-cultural competence, and I could work with them to figure out how they’d develop that competence in their organizations. Now, it is too often a checklist; “check” and it’s done. As if leadership competence were something they could easily develop as well. Speaking as an OD professional, ideally intercultural is interwoven with the organization’s “normal” training, be it leadership development, first line supervisor training, new hire orientation, customer service and sales skills, etc. We do have a few videos on our YouTube channel, and posts on this blog, about research that makes the business case for intercultural. Everyone? Readers of this blog? What do you recommend? Christina, you also no doubt have success stories of your own. What has worked for you in the past? Sometimes an organization is just not ready, or they want the quick and dirty or cheap solution. Experience has shown me that, in a couple of years, they may be back, to do what’s meaningful. Best of luck and thank you for your commitment to building intercultural competence in this world of ours!