By Jose J. Ruiz
To deal with the challenges in managing a multicultural organization, a leader must increase their ability to appreciate differences and adopt inclusive approaches. They must also constantly remind themselves that there are universal values that most cultures appreciate. Such values, for instance, are politeness, kindness, honorable, and accepting of others.
However, “universality” is relative across cultures and subcultures, which explains the term “cultural relativity.” For instance, the notion of transparency in western culture is expressed with openness, directness, and straightforwardness. In eastern culture, transparency is of various degrees.
Some eastern cultures are more transparent; others are less. And less-than-transparent attitude is not necessary a bad thing. Often, it is considered more “polite” to be discreet and less direct. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures, for instance, it is important to “save face” whenever there is a problem by not pointing directly to the party causing it.
A leader would know that their leadership is working when the multicultural followers perform efficiently and productively. Exercise these five things confidently and make them your second nature.
First, trust yourself, be trustworthy, and be honorable. Be honest while also being polite and tactful to earn respect from others. Trust and honor are two universal values that all cultures appreciate, so be a person that embodies them.
Second, find and declare similarities instead of differences. Unite instead of divide. We all are human beings, and we have thoughts and feelings. Happiness, sadness, anger, and humor exist in all cultures. Be creative in finding similarities and sharing yours.
Third, be grateful and express thankfulness. Learn how to say “thank you” and “you are welcome” in as many languages as possible. Use them to break the ice whenever you meet people of different cultures. A sincere smile and a caring tone of voice are also great as icebreakers. With your followers, expressing thankfulness is a sign of humility and being honorable.
Fourth, be accepting and inclusive. Whenever there is an opportunity to include others, do so. Use an “open door policy” when dealing with team members of various backgrounds. Encourage them to come to you at any time and include them in your activities. Be as democratic as possible.
Fifth, be a good listener and a compassionate talker. Listen to what people say and see the world from their eyes. Pay close attention and relate to what they say by reciprocating sincerely. Sincerity, empathy, and compassion are signs of big-heartedness, which people appreciate and would reciprocate.
In conclusion, in today’s globalized world, many organizations employ people of various cultures, which require a special set of people skills. With awareness that differences make an organization stronger, practice managing a multicultural team with a lot of grace, empathy, and inclusiveness.
ABOUT JOSE J. RUIZ
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the executive recruiting firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures. An important part of his time is spent on research work focused on organizational effectiveness centered on leadership and culture. Prior to joining Alder Koten, Jose was a Principal with Heidrick & Struggles’ Global Industrial Practice based in Houston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico. His professional experience also includes leadership positions in engineering and operations management for manufacturing organizations in the US and Mexico. This experience includes serving as vice president and general manager at Holley Performance Products. Jose serves on the board of Shelmex and on America’s Council of the Association of Executive Search Consultants where he also chairs the Boutique and Independent Search Firm Forum.
Jose holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose can be reached at jose.ruiz@alderkoten or at his office in Houston +1 (713) 476–9000
ABOUT ALDER KOTEN
Alder Koten has recruiters and research teams in Mexico and the United States. The firm was founded in 2011. Its headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. Alder Koten recruiters serve multiple industries including automotive, building products, construction & projects, consumer markets, energy & chemicals, equipment & industrial products, financial services, life sciences, medical devices, maquiladora, mining & metals, professional services, renewable resources, technology, and transportation & logistics. The firm is a proud standing member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The Association of Executive Search Consultants was founded in 1959 as the Association of Executive Recruiting Consultants (AERC) for the dual purposes of creating a professional association for the most competent and reputable search firms, and for providing clients and prospective clients a means by which to differentiate qualified and ethical practitioners.