Cultural Leadership Strategies
Research on cultural leadership strategies illustrates that organizations have the daunting responsibility of responding to an increasingly diverse society and the implications that it presents for the development and maintenance of an increasingly diverse workplace. Unfortunately, while cultural diversity could mean important organizational gains for many companies, a substantial number still have not embraced the concept of cultural diversity training as the solution to capitalizing on that diversity. The research demonstrates that the culturally diverse workplace is challenged by long held racial ethnic stereotypes that often preclude harmony and productivity in the workplace. At the same time, cultural diversity leadership strategies can be designed to address the unique problems that the organization faces in capitalizing on a diverse workforce, not the least of which is the bias and prejudice that works to prevent it. The research offers a number of examples from the private and public sectors where companies have succeeded in the application of cultural diversity training. Even more, the research presents importance implications for training workers and managers to work in an ethnically diverse environment that is free of bias, prejudice and stereotypes, where everyone can compete equally for organizational opportunities and resources.
In order to understand the imperative of cultural leadership strategies in the workplace, it is essential to examine what cultural awareness and sensitivity are and how they figure into supporting and managing the ethnically diverse workplace. While the phrase “cultural awareness and sensitivity” is viewed as merely a catch-phrase designed to draw attention to the increasingly ethnically diverse workplace, its significance in pointing out what must be achieved to capitalize on that diversity has been established for quite some time.
Among the things that the culturally aware individual would “be aware of” are the general dimensions of another culture that describe its cultural orientations. These six dimensions include:
- The way that individuals view humanity
- How they see nature
- How they view activity and achievement
- How they approach interpersonal relationships
- How they view time in terms of past, present and future
- How they view public and private space
The countless possibilities and variations on these dimensions point to just how important it is that managers and employees learn how to develop an awareness of difference ethnicities and cultural traits.
Although cultural awareness and sensitivity are not synonymous, it is nonetheless difficult to separate the two and even more difficult to avoid giving them the same function in relation to ethnic diversity in the workplace. For all intents and purposes, cultural sensitivity is demonstrated in how an individual responds to the unique cultural attributes of another person, especially where those attributes are strikingly different than one’s own.