Sights on Success Consulting is pleased to share the following Guide to Leadership Development in Intercultural Competence©. This straightforward 4-step guide is intended to help individuals and teams understand the importance of developing intercultural competence and to take the actions recommended:
Listen to the article:
1. Take the IDI®.
The first step to Leadership Development in Intercultural Competence© is for the individual or team to take a professional assessment of their capability with bridging cultural differences and similarities. The professional assessment recommended is the Intercultural Development Inventory®. By doing so, the client will avoid the guesswork and obtain a professional report that contains data and feedback about how they really respond to cultural differences and similarities rather than how they perceive they are performing.
This is important if, for example, you are the leader of a diverse team who wants to help your team to work more effectively. Unbeknownst to you, your actual orientation to cultural differences and similarities, that influences your leadership style and the methods you use, may be less effective at engaging members who are from minority or non-dominant or marginalized backgrounds. This is because your efforts may be based on a self-perception that inaccurately estimates or perhaps, overestimates your capability to bridge cultural differences and similarities.
In this case, your leadership may comprise decisions, directions, and expectations that are unrealistic and unattainable. As such, it may be more challenging and frustrating for you to reach your goals.
2. Set realistic goals.
After taking the IDI®, the next step is to obtain guidance on how to grow intercultural competence. The guidance recommended is leadership coaching that will focus on developing the area described by the IDI report® and feedback, and using strategies targeted to that development area.
Leadership coaching will also help the client to set realistic goals to increase intercultural competence within a realistic time frame and recommend learning resources that are appropriate to the client’s orientation to cultural differences and similarities. The purpose is to maximize the client’s time and effort, provide sufficient stimulation and challenge without overwhelming the client, and enable success.
3. Learn both culture-general and culture-specific knowledge.
While helping the client to design and implement the learning plan, leadership coaching will guide the client to include learning about both culture-general and culture-specific knowledge. Focusing on culture-specific knowledge alone is not sufficient if the team’s goal is to create diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the team for all individuals and members of any cultural group or groups at the same time.
The advantage of learning culture-general knowledge, however, is that it provides a frame of reference that allows leaders and teams to make meaningful cross-cultural comparisons. In other words, it helps teams to contextualize any undertaking of culture-specific learning and increases and sharpens understanding about their own culture and other cultures through an understanding of cultural similarities and differences.
If, on the other hand, teams serve clients who are mainly from a specific cultural group, and they focus only on learning about that cultural group to the exclusion of other cultural groups, they may inadvertently create a binary system that polarizes or creates hierarchies among various cultural perspectives. Such an outcome would be contrary to DEIA goals or other goals. As such, it is important to find a balance between learning both culture-general and culture-specific knowledge to reach DEIA goals.
A bonus, so to speak, of culture-general learning is that it can also help to dispel the myth and avoid resistance that claims that there are too many cultures to learn about and that it is impossible to learn about all of them.
4. Increase cultural self-awareness.
The fourth step in the Guide to Leadership Development in Intercultural Competence© is to keep cultural self-awareness continuously in the client’s sight lines.
Increasing cultural self-awareness means deepening understanding of your cultural origin, identity, status, values, principles, beliefs, etc. and how they impact your interactions with people who are culturally different from you. This helps to avoid making negative judgments, because you can recognize and reconcile cultural similarities and differences between yourself and others. Ideally, you could free yourself from making negative judgments that are based on cultural biases and cultural stereotypes, and reduce the tendency to blame misunderstandings on cultural differences.
Finally, having more cultural self-awareness means the team will rely less on imitating the strategies used by other teams and organizations to advance DEIA. Those strategies may look attractive, but they may be irrelevant or inappropriate for the team’s unique work environment and cultural context. The team may not understand those strategies fully, either, or be able to adapt them appropriately to their unique situation and context. Instead, increasing cultural self-awareness helps to empower leaders and teams, because they know and understand themselves better. This self-knowledge could inspire them with original ideas to reach their goals.
You may contact us via this link to inquire further about the intercultural development process and the benefits: https://sightsonsuccessconsulting.com/contact/
For more information about the intercultural development terms used in this article, visit the Terminology page on our website: https://sightsonsuccessconsulting.com/terminology/
For more insights into the benefits of Leadership Development in Intercultural Competence©, visit the Client Feedback page on our website: https://sightsonsuccessconsulting.com/benefits/testimonials/
Thank you for reading.
Photo credit: Sights on Success Consulting