Adapting Leadership Approach to Lead a Cross-Cultural Group
As demonstrated in Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, leaders in multinational or global organizations are increasingly faced with the challenge of adapting to diverse paradigms of leadership while leading cross-cultural employees or multicultural groups (Kaifi & Mujtaba, 2010; Hofstede, 1993). In this section, I demonstrate how I, as a CEO of a multinational organization, would adapt my leadership approach to lead such a group based upon Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions.
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In cognizant of the fact that members of a cross-cultural group demonstrate unique and diverse needs (Casimir & Waldman, 2007), I would encourage a small power distance approach to ensure equality, openness and equal representation in the group (Hofstede, 1993; Waldman et al., 2006). Such an approach, in my view, not only spurs teamwork and trust by ensuring that members become more open to share their needs but also act as a strategic lever that propels innovative ideas and solutions across the group due to the relatively equal interrelationships among members (Appelbaum et al., 2004).
Cross-cultural groups operate optimally when leaders are able to respect the values of individuals from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate an adequate comprehension of their diverse cultural perspectives (Appelbaum et al., 2004; Waldman et al., 2006), hence the need to nurture a collectivist environment that ensures protection of group members in return for loyalty and respect (Hofstede, 1993; Waldman et al., 2006).
As demonstrated by the diversity programs in large multinational organizations such as Coca Cola and IBM, it is my reasoned submission that a collectivist environment will assist me in not only becoming increasingly accessible to group members (Appelbaum et al., 2004) but also in the demonstration of the desired cultural awareness and cultural understanding of the cross-cultural group due to the close bond that exists when individuals act as members of a group (Casimir & Waldman, 2007).
As demonstrated in the literature, communication competence, creation of resonance, emotional stability, sensitivity to individual needs, and motor abilities are key diversity competencies for leaders in situations whereby the conditions for multicultural or multi-dimensional dynamics are presented (Casimir & Waldman, 2007; Waldman, 2006).
To achieve these competencies, I would promote a feminine environment in the cross-cultural group to nurture the quality of communication, maintain warm interpersonal relationships, provide service and motivation to members, demonstrate solidarity, and also provide personalized care to members with unique needs (Hofstede, 1993). Assertive leadership associated with the masculine dimension, in my view, may hamper communication and open interactions among members.
Owing to the fact that leadership in multicultural settings demands tolerance for ambiguity and capacity to empathize with individuals (Casimir & Waldman, 2007), I would advocate for low uncertainty avoidance scores to ensure that communication and interactions within the cross-cultural group are minimally structured (Hofstede, 1993). It is my reasoned submission that adapting a low uncertainty avoidance index will spur innovation and creativity within the group due to the latitude given to members to make their own independent decisions in a less structured environment.
Lastly, I would promote a long-term orientation in leading the cross-cultural group to provide the thrift and persistence necessary for the achievement of the goals and objectives of the group (Hofstede, 1993). It is my view that to achieve the strategic goal and long-term success of the organization, leaders must demonstrate a long-term outlook in planning, organizing, and leading of cross-cultural or multicultural individuals.
Implementing Organizational Change
For effective implementation of organizational change, a leader must first and foremost come up with an exciting vision of the change process and have the capacity to bring employees together around a shared sense of purpose geared towards the realization of the vision (Blain, n.d.; McLaughlin, 2001). To reduce resistance from employees and management, the leader should demonstrate the capacity to break down the vision/change process into stages or milestones (Blain, n.d.), provide opportunities for training and development of employees to facilitate their understanding of the change process (Conceicao & Altman, 2011), and provide a leadership paradigm that is cognizant of diverse phases of the change process and their effect on employees in terms of needs, expectations, and fears (Clemmer, n.d.).
Visionary leadership is needed during the initial phases of the change process not only to articulate the vision with great inspiration, flexibility, and scheduling, but also to convince employees about the need to change, and to generate specific, achievable goals of the change process (Cardenas & Crabtree, 2009; McLaughlin, 2001). Transformational leadership is required during the change implementation phase to motivate and inspire positive changes to followers as they come to terms with the change process (Kaifi & Mujtaba, 2010). The combination of the two leadership styles in diverse phases of the change process leads to success.
In comparison, a change effort aimed at increasing performance at a company I was working for failed to materialize even though it was predicated upon measurable and achievable criteria. The management had wanted to introduce a performance and management system (PMS) that could have seen employees graded against key performance benchmarks such as output, productivity, contribution, and commitment.
However, the change process was met with resistance from employees due to myriad reasons, key among them the fact that they were not contacted to provide their input. To be successful, in my view, the leader should have articulated the vision of the expected change to employees before implementation and bring them together around a shared sense of purpose to adopt the PMS for their own good and that of the organization.
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Blain, J. (n.d.). Visionary Leadership (YouTube video). Web.
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Clemmer, B. (n.d.). Vision, leadership and organizational development (YouTube Video). Web.
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