Friday, June 13, 2014

Intercultural competence - an integral component of global leadership skills

“In addition to extraordinary business leadership skills, a leader now needs cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence requires transcending one's own cultural background to interact with diverse and unknown intelligences” 

(E. S. Wibbeke, leader of Fortune 500 firms, in Global Business Leadership, 2009)


As an intercultural trainer targeting Swiss multinationals active in China,helping to bridge gaps in communication styles and values, I occasionallyrun into senior managers who say: "Leadership training is our top priorityat the moment, come back to us later".

Become a better leader through cross-cultural awareness

Our world is changing rapidly. You can choose to watch from the sidelines, 

let your competition steal the march on you or you can decide to actively shape what will be. To meet the unique challenges of the 21st century workplace and remain competitive, managers need to have the skills necessary to leverage diversity as a strength.

In making the change from a functional leadership to a business leadership position, managers will need to:
Þ       develop and implement business strategies 
Þ       integrate the work of multiple functions to achieve superior business results
Þ       design and structure business units and build cross-functional teams to deliver results.

The majority of these teams are likely to be cross-cultural in nature given the increasingly diverse workforce, and the fact that diversity brings innovation, fresh perspective and creative problem-solving to a dynamic workplace.

In order to take advantage of these cultural synergies, managers need to examine their own frame of reference through which they view the world and actively seek to broaden it in order to build effective work groups and create an inclusive work environment. This contributes to better employee relations and happier employees.

Ability to assess the competitive environment and take account of multiple stakeholders 
(governments, regulators, customers, suppliers, employees) of necessarily different cultural backgrounds and value systems, is necessary to create a vision and strategy for a complete business. Benefits to customers and stakeholders ultimately spill over into top as well as bottom line results for your organization.

As a CEO, leading change in your organization and developing capabilities to influence, negotiate, communicate and manage conflict can only be effective if employees and stakeholders feel listened to, respected and valued for their diverse contributions. This is all part and parcel of developing your strengths in personal leadership and becoming a 21st century business leader that inspires change in others.

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