When Leading Across Cultures, Your Style May Need to Change.


Lots of managers work with employees whose backgrounds or cultures differ from theirs. In certain circumstances, the leadership approach you’re used to may be ineffective, or even offensive. That’s why it’s important to build your cultural fluency — an understanding of how norms and expectations vary across cultures. Think about how your current style has been influenced by your background and personal identity. When might your style be a bad fit, and for whom? Working with a coach, or completing an assessment of your cultural competence, can be a helpful way to identify your blind spots and figure out how to address them. When working with employees from different cultures, think carefully about where your usual approach might need adjusting. Consider: How will you greet employees? Lead meetings? Get your team’s input? Show respect? When you encounter something you don’t understand, ask about it rather than making assumptions. And always be willing to adjust your leadership style; never assume that other people will adjust to you.

Adapted from “3 Ways to Improve Your Cultural Fluency,” by Jane Hyun and Doug Conant.



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