The world is not only getting "flatter," it also is becoming more "colorful," says Juana Bordas, author of the book Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age.
With companies now employing people of every race, nationality, religious background, and age group, she says, it is good business practice to incorporate the practices and values of diverse cultures in a respectful and productive manner.
Multicultural leadership encourages an inclusive and adaptable style that enables a wide spectrum of people to actively engage, contribute, and tap their potential. That's why making sure that a workplace has culturally inclusive leadership will be important for success in the new, globalized world of business, Bordas argues.
Here are just a few of the steps Bordas says supply chain professionals can take to help them make the transition to a multicultural leadership model.
Think "we," not "I." Many ethnic groups' leadership techniques cherish group welfare, unity, and harmony. People work for group success before personal credit or gain. Every business will benefit from employees who identify themselves as part of a team and who, as a result, work together to make the entire company a great success.
Flatten your leadership structure. In successful organizations, CEOs view themselves as just another part of the company and place value in the expertise and innovative thinking of their employees. Flattening the leadership structure will help employees feel more appreciated.
Help people learn to work better together. Despite outward similarities, every employee, manager, or executive is unique. Successful businesses are those that learn to accept small differences and help people work together for the greater good of the organization. Consensus building is a great way to strengthen any company's work environment.
Minimize conflict by reminding employees that they truly are "family." One way to minimize conflict is encouraging people to view each other as relatives. Just as viewing other members of a society as part of a larger family might reduce the likelihood of war and fighting, encouraging employees to view one another in this same way encourages them to seek out resolutions to their problems.
Focus employees on a company vision. Many organizations have a motto or promise that is meant to inspire employees and assure customers that only the highest-quality product or service will be coming their way. In order to develop a company vision that truly reflects the diverse attitudes of employees, think of it as a community vision. Listen to different points of view, communicate in an open, give-and-take fashion, and welcome new ideas.
Tapping the potential of a changing workforce, consumer base, and citizenry requires leadership approaches that resonate with and are representative of the diverse cultures that make up many societies today. The convergence of the leadership principles of diverse cultures with more familiar business practices, Bordas says, can create a socially responsible environment.
[Source: Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership For a Multicultural Age, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007]