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Take a cross-cultural approach to management

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Individuals of different cultures react differently to different leadership styles. As the workforce becomes more multicultural and business operations spread across multiple countries, fostering a deeper understanding and sensitivity to other cultures is an essential capability for modern leaders.

The cross-cultural perspective of psychology seeks to explain how culture affects psychological processes. This perspective emphasizes the need and benefits of participants from different backgrounds sitting at the table. Take Australia as an example. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest census data (2021). This shows that almost half (48.2%) of Australians have parents born abroad. The same census found that 3.2% of the population was identified as from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Statistically, looking at this data, leaders with poorly developed cross-cultural capabilities do not serve half of their customers. Of course, this is more complicated than what the numbers show, and the Australian example is just an example. Nevertheless, this is a good reflection and consideration when managing organizations that exhibit cross-cultural characteristics. If you’re not sure about the cross-cultural characteristics of your organization, you can get a clear answer by looking at customer, employee, and stakeholder data.

There is no doubt about the role that culture plays in how we appear in the world. World culture is often understood as a reflection of previously occurring or previously belonging events. But we now know that culture is constantly evolving, and that we have acquired cultural fragments throughout our lives and contributed to our personal growth. Culture covers a wide range of perspectives. This includes the social behavior, norms, beliefs, arts, food, laws, customs, religions, languages, regions, abilities, customs, and other characteristics of a particular group that influence our thinking and behavior. Give. It can be complicated or simple as needed. Regardless of your perspective or understanding, the influence of culture in the workplace cannot be ignored.

As a discipline of psychology, cross-cultural psychology explores the relationship between cultural contexts and human behavior, examining behavioral similarities and differences between people developed in different cultures. Research in Europe and North America has been a priority for many years. However, cross-cultural researchers have made sufficient discoveries and assumptions as to whether some of the ideas that were once believed to be universal are actually universal, and for the samples from which observations were drawn. I started to question whether it was wide. Therefore, cross-cultural psychologists are working to investigate many prejudices and establish whether cultural phenomena in Europe and North America appear in other parts of the world.

More and more leaders manage teams distributed around the world. This trend is likely to continue. Leaders who are still surprised by the need to look to management from a cross-cultural perspective are probably ignoring reality and the expectations of its stakeholders. Communication has long been recognized as one of the key success factors for leaders and their organizations. It can enhance understanding and can cause conflict. This can be even more prevalent in culturally diverse workplaces. Misunderstandings between culturally diverse workforces and the resulting conflicts can affect the performance of an organization. Therefore, the cross-cultural abilities of underdeveloped leaders are a risk to the organization.

Following the study of intercultural psychology, leaders may need to rethink their management approach. They need to find out if what they have learned about management is still appropriate. Otherwise, it can be omitted to note that half of the workforce may have different concepts of relationships, communication, or information processing, as in Australia above.

Research shows that good leadership begins with self-awareness. We may not be able to see ourselves in the same way that others see us. Asking people who know us to share their views is one way to deal with blind spots. Neuropsychological surveys, often referred to as 360 surveys, are regularly used by people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, but tool design may consider only a specific population. It is encouraging to confirm that the need for cross-cultural leadership skills is also influencing this area. The Worldwide Institute for Research and Development (WIRE) has conducted a bias test on the Leadership Circle Profile (LCP), a 360-degree research tool that simultaneously measures behavior and assumptions. Tests conducted in 2021 suggest that the assessment shows no systematic bias towards gender and ethnicity. One possible reason could be that the tool uses a diverse normative base of 10,000 global leaders. LCP is used for explanatory purposes only. There may be other tools that take into account cross-cultural factors.

Transcultural people tend to retain different unique beliefs, assumptions, and stereotypes. Not surprisingly, the Implicit Leadership Theory (ILT) suggests that all of this influences the view of leadership. What is considered a good leader for some may not be the best leadership ability for others. Leaders should keep this in mind if they belong to an organization that exhibits cross-cultural characteristics.

The ability of leaders to manage well in a cross-cultural environment is an important leadership 2 ability. There are five simple steps that leaders can follow to develop or enhance their capabilities in this area.

  1. Build self-awareness. There are several ways to do that, and one tool that can start the process is a 360-degree survey. To make it even more informative, leaders can be more deliberate when choosing people to provide feedback on leadership styles, including a wider variety of evaluators.
  2. Learn about the culture of people associated with your organization, both internally and externally. You can make this more manageable by starting at the intersection of culture and business. It can be as easy as asking an HR or L & D representative to create a reference booklet that will help your entire organization.
  3. Connect with leaders from different cultural backgrounds, both inside and outside the company. There are several platforms designed to bring leaders together, such as LinkedIn.
  4. Allocate time to get to know your people. Choose to know carefully and deliberately those who may be a minority in your organization. Due to perceived or actual power imbalances, even psychologically safe organizations require leaders to initiate conversations rather than waiting for others to incite the conversation. I have.
  5. Make communication two-way. It’s easy to fall into the habit of recognizing regular updates via newsletters and videos as good communication.
  6. Cross-cultural competencies are an ongoing process. As culture is constantly evolving, it is helpful for leaders to think in the long run and find ways to stay up to date. Some leaders hire internal and external coaches to support personal development and keep checking them with open and honest feedback.

As the workforce becomes more multicultural and companies grow across national borders, leaders need a comprehensive set of skills to understand the differences between people from different backgrounds. To remain effective, leaders must have well-developed cross-cultural abilities.

If you need assistance on your organization or leader coaching journey, please contact the ICF. A team of volunteers from the UK will be happy to help.

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