Michelle explains how international cultures are found here at home too.
When an executive becomes culturally agile they massively expand their ability to advance their career. They can get results from teams around the world, they can get results from multicultural teams within their current organizations, and they also increase their ability to be successful moving cultures from their current organization to their next company.
History is littered with the broken careers of leaders who lacked cultural agility. One example of this that is very famous is Carly Fiorina. She really did not understand the Hewlett-Packard way. She set out to change the culture and was not received at all and blew it entirely. She could have had very different results if she would have built some cultural agility. But she is just a famous example. The thing is that there are so many people who don’t understand why they can’t break through to the next level of management. They can’t understand why they are not getting advanced and it often lays on their inability to be culturally agile.
So I would ask what are you doing to make sure that your executives, your team, and you yourself are culturally agile?
My best clients really do four things differently to achieve success.
1) They set a clear vision and strategy and they commit to it.
2) They understand and act on developing their people in order to develop their capacity to grow as an organization and to become more profitable.
3) They fine-tune their course corrections. They are made thoughtfully and carefully. They are not reactions and wild swings.
4) They are optimistic and they are steady in their self-esteem and their confidence as individuals and as an organization.
The key here is to accelerate profit by maximizing people’s ability to act together.
Is your organization doing that?
Unlike in sports, however, where it’s typically very easy to perceive what your opponents or teammates are doing and respond accordingly, the things business professionals need to pay attention to and respond to are often very subtle, and can be hidden in nuance.
That’s because, while sports require physical agility, business requires cultural agility.
In today’s global market, business professionals need to be able to recognize, and respond appropriately, to different behaviors and worldviews in order to build strong working relationships across cultures. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as it might sound.
When we meet on the playing field of business, we tend to dress alike, and we speak about the same things that are important to us. But this often masks the different assumptions and worldviews that we have, causing us to miss information that’s critical to building relationships and working together more effectively. Other times, we do notice cultural differences, but simply don’t know what to make of them.
This is where cultural agility becomes critical. Perception is the first step. The second is then, how do you act in a way that will be relevant and important to the other person, and that he or she will understand and respond to favorably?
To begin, there are six key skills that will help you master cultural agility:
1) Self-awareness. Be aware of your own cultural biases, behaviors, and worldviews.
2) Be attuned to your environment, and to cultural nuances.
3) Adapt to cultural differences and ambiguities.
4) Be authentic.
5) Acquire knowledge about other cultures.
6) Continually assess how you’re developing in each of these areas, and look for opportunities to grow.
If you’re looking to succeed in this global economy, it’s time to hunker down and get serious about improving your game. Put these skills of cultural agility into action on the playing field of business, and you’ll have a real shot at taking home the gold.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin will give updates, field no-holds-barred questions from any employee, and make sure that everyone on their team is focused in the same direction. They do this every Friday.
Leaders at most companies provide far too little transparency and hide behind ‘open door policies.’ Open doors that they venture out of far too infrequently.
Effective leadership, management and enduring charisma require active, regular engagement with everyone on your team.
What keeps you from having a weekly all hands meeting like the one at Google?
Not enough time? Nothing to say? Fear of fielding uncomfortable questions?
Don’t pacify yourself with copouts. Instead enliven your team and results.
If Larry and Sergey can do it you can, too.