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.
Let me give you an example of one of my clients, and it is sort of a cultural agility at home example. He was from the northeast and he was transplanted into the deep south. When he first started speaking with the group of people I happened to be in the back and I saw him talking and I understood what he was saying but he dressed differently, he used different words, and at the end there was a woman who was next to me and she could see that I was nodding along and she turned to me and she said, “What did he just say?” He wasn’t speaking in a way that was relevant or was delivered to the people who he needed to have act together. I was engaged to coach this individual so we really worked on developing his cultural agility. He became more self-aware of the impact that he was having. He was more attuned to understanding the environment around him. He adapted some of his word choices, the way he dressed, and also the way he became interactive with people in a way that was also authentic to him. The results of which were the team pulled together, they followed his leadership very loyally, they were able to increase their sales and profitability eight-fold. He has now moved on to other senior positions because he is able to replicate his success with this group. So this executive would not have achieved this success with his team or this success for him personally in his career without becoming culturally agile and this is just still domestically it is not even international. So I would ask what are you doing to make sure that your executives, your team, and you yourself are culturally agile?