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As skills for any other practice or business, leadership skills can also be taught. An individual can achieve perfection in leadership and turn the theory into practice, as well as the same is possible for doctors, lawyers, musicians, or writers. Due to the teamwork, standards of ethical leadership, and the fact that every member of a team has necessary leadership qualities, many challenges can be overcome and many opportunities can be taken.
In this paper, it is shown how all mentioned above can help to overcome one of the biggest challenges of the present-day global leadership, as well as how the efficiency of learning of leadership skills has already been proven in practice.
Defining the Cultural Challenge
One of the most difficult and significant challenges for global leaders is cultural, and that is why I have chosen this one to address. While operating in the global environment, leaders have to work with several cultural groups at the same time, and that is closely connected with many problems. As prime examples of those, Northous (2012) defines ethnocentrism and prejudice. The cultural challenge inevitably interferes with the regular work and communication within the group and hinders success and goal achievement.
How the Cultural Challenge Can be Overcome?
Even when leaders are able to step back from their own culture and are free from any prejudice, most frequently, they still have to deal with those feelings in their followers. That is why every leader should teach the followers and make them develop strong leadership skills to be above ethnocentrism and prejudice. Therefore, teaching is imperative. But what exactly should followers learn? First of all, it is ethical leadership. In her book, Thornton (2013) defines seven lenses, which leaders should be guided by in their day-to-day practice. Those are profit, law, character, people, communities, the planet, and the greater good (Thornton 2013).
The third one encourages leaders to take into account the needs and interests of others even they do not agree with those. This standard of ethical leadership teaches people to be humane, understanding, and tolerant, and that is exactly what is necessary to overcome the cultural challenge. To train those qualities in their followers and teach them to understand each other regardless of the diversity of nationalities, leaders can arrange the team building, interventions, and workshops, distribute the lists of do’s and don’ts, etc. Finally, all of those changes should be implemented to the team, not individuals. Therefore, leaders should create the mental model of the change, defining the primary aim of the team, short-term goals, the type of environment and rational (Northous 2012, p. 209).
Can Leadership Be Taught?
The effectiveness of all ideas and strategies described above is determined by the fact whether leadership can be taught or not. It may seem surprising, but the answer is affirmative, and the articles, which I have chosen for this case study, prove it. One of them described how the leadership skills were learned by doctors from the Quality Improvement (QI) work. At the end of the intervention, trainees were ‘able to ask the question ‘what can I do to make a difference?’ without having to wait to be asked to improve’ (Gamble & Vaux 2014, p. 14). The second article told about the leadership development program aimed to create urban school leaders. After an implementation of the program, approximately 90% of the participants were promoted to the school administrators (Stearns, Margulus & Shinsky 2012).
So, both teaching programs were effective. That is why we can conclude that leadership can be taught and learned. Hence, all methods and techniques mentioned above actually can address the cultural challenge and even improve the leadership practice in general.
Gamble, J & Vaux, E 2014, ‘Learning leadership skills in practice through quality improvement’, Clinical Medicine, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 12-15.
Northous, PG 2012, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 6th edn, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Stearns, M, Margulus, L & Shinsky, J 2012, Theory into Practice: A Study to Assess the Influence of a Customized Leadership Development Program on a Cohort of Aspiring Urban Leaders. Web.
Thornton, LF 2013, 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership, Leading in Context, Richmond.