5 Misconceptions Leaders Have When Leading People From Different Cultures

#9 - 03/03/2024

If you’re living in the UK or US, then you’ll recognize we live in a more multicultural environment than ever before.
But what still shocks me today is the tone-deaf interactions that I see.
I’m far from guilt-free in this in my life. But being fortunate to have consulted some of the world’s global brands to avoid issues around true equitable practices, here are some things I want to pinpoint.

1. Leadership is about listening to the air

When you're working with people, especially generationally and ethnically different individuals from yourself, spend twice as much time listening, absorbing and appreciating what makes them different.

Ask team members to share what’s important to them from their culture, from their faith and from their family by explicitly being open about your objective of wanting to develop and appreciate them and integrate them and include them.

2. Leadership is about you last

I remember during my school days being the only Asian in my football team, our teacher and coach asked me if we could hold the end of year team awards at my parents' restaurant.

It was a subtle thing - but asking me first where to eat, taking my suggestion and acknowledging my existence away from the team's needs, was hugely empowering. 

As a leader, look out for the one who may come from a different upbringing to everyone else, or the majority in the team. Empower them by asking them first for their suggestions, and if they’re not that comfortable doing that in front of everyone, find them in the workplace, arrange more one-to-one’s and tap into their superpower. They might help your company become the outlier in return too.

3. Leadership is about legacy

Leaders when working with people of faith in particular, should be cognizant of adherence to faith principles. When I used to work in corporate work, one of the best leaders I had never put a time limit on my need to pray.

I obviously couldn't take the Michael with the amount of time.

But him just making me feel like I wasn’t a burden, made me want to do better for him even more.

Prayer is a critical component of many faiths. It’s connected to the idea of a person's purpose, their legacy.

Look out for those who care about these things - because doing so, will help you preserve your legacy as a leader in return.

4. Leadership is about dealing with loss

There’s no doubt, those who gave you insights into different cultures, maybe they were team members, will move on.

Ensure you’re not blind sighted and left out to dry by supplementing, regularly, your team with experts who can aid and support its growth and protect your business. This is strategy!

If you put all your eggs in one basket, into that one team member, don’t expect there to be anything left when they decide to pursue something else.

5. Leadership is about guiding towards a unified goal

People who subscribe to a particular faith will require more conversation around purpose in the workplace than others. 

More often than not they recognize they have a purpose for life and they want to know how work plays a part in this too.

This is a fact of millennial and in particular Gen-Z individuals.

If you combine those generations with someone of faith, you’ve got someone who explicitly will need meaning in their work almost on a day to day basis.

My parents cared less about purpose than I did. Pursuing purpose for sure feels like a privilege. 

But if you’re able to tap into that, galvanise those individuals to aim for their north-star at work and give them meaning, and unifying this with your wider team by appreciating the creed they supply to in their private life and synergise with your companies “creed” too, you’ve got a recipe for success that will be hard to replicate.

Embrace difference.

#Diversity #Inclusion #Leadership

Originally Written on 8th Sept 2022