In order to align people from different backgrounds, it is crucial for a leader to face the differences (Manning 2014). Leaders need to start with observing, learning, and understanding the behaviors of others (Bourelle n.d.). We all see the world through cultural glasses, and it shapes our reality (Bourelle n.d.). By a leader having flexibility in lenses he/she is willing to wear, a leader can change the way his/her brain sees behaviors and relates to people (Bourelle n.d.). Subsequently, a leader can value the differences amongst the employees. Manning (2014) beautifully depicted diverse perspectives as artifacts of a given organizational village with sacred rituals and stories. A leader who views diversity in that way is enlightened as he/she sees human resources as the organization’s greatest asset (Manning 2014) and can benefit from diversity (Bourelle n.d.).
The next step is to create a simple way to connect people of different cultures (Bourelle n.d.). From the get go, it’s necessary for a leader to establish and secure commitment to a positive and clear vision of the future (Manning 2014). Employer branding is a fast-emerging tool to communicate to existing employees that the value proposition of the current employer supersedes its competitors (Priyadarshi 2011). Out of the vision emerges norms of behavior and core values that are shared are symbols of group identity (Manning 2014). The vision must be comprehensive and detailed so that every member of the organization can understand his or her part in the whole (Manning 2014). At the same time, a leader should support people being able to communicate freely in a way that is uncensored and flows in all directions (Manning 2014). Then, a leader can be able to access group feedback and accordingly adapt his/her own behavior (Bourelle n.d.).
One strategy to get everybody on the same page is be particularly attentive to new members. Not every employee is culturally a good fit for a given organization. So, hiring teams must do their due diligence while interviewing to check for compatibility of reward systems, performance standards, leadership practice, feedback and controls, and attitudes toward innovation (Manning 2014). Further, once hired, mature members need to help young members develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that reflect community values (Manning 2014). To keep existing employees on track, a leader can give people more trust, freedom, and authority than he/she is comfortable giving them (Manning 2014). Followers need to feel as though all individuals have the opportunity to influence events and outcomes (Manning 2014). It is a great way to empower them to naturally increase commitment to the company’s overall values and goals (Manning 2014).
From there, a leader can achieve the full potential of community (Manning 2014). People gain satisfaction from interacting with others as they find social aspects of the workplace rewarding (Manning 2014). Organizations often rely on work groups for product development, improvement, and operations (Dixon and Hart 2010). Studies show that boards composed of both genders perform 15% better than boards composed of one gender (Bourelle n.d.). Studies also show that boards composed of different culture perform 35% better than boards of one culture (Bourelle n.d.). Additionally, studies show that providing a work setting where employees have a diversity of colleagues, variety in daily work, and their degrees are being properly utilized is crucial to retention (Priyadarshi 2011). A leader can enhance work group efficiency by communicating positively about work group diversity, emphasizing the group’s common goals, and encouraging members take constructive, introspective views about their about diversity (Dixon and Hart 2010). Also, with productivity in mind, a leader who allows for a mix of perspectives increases the ability to problem solve and innovate (Bourelle n.d.). It is important for group leaders to acknowledge and celebrate diversity so that it is viewed as a generator of innovation and creativity for the organization (Dixon and Hart 2010).
Bourrelle, Julien S. Year (n.d.). “How Culture Drives Behaviours.” TEDxTrondheim. YouTube. July 10, 2015. Video, 12:07. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Yy6poJ2zs
Dixon, Marva and Laura Hart. 2010. “The Impact of Path-Goal Leadership Styles on Work Group Effectiveness and Turnover Intention”. Journal of Managerial Issues. 22(1): 52-69.
Manning, George. 2014. The Art of Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill
Priyadarshi, Pushpendra. 2011. “Employer Brand Image as Predictor of Employee Satisfaction, Affective Commitment & Turnover”. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations. 46(3): 510-522.
Comment by Lisa Neuberger:
Great post! I found Bourelle’s assertion that we can change our brains by deliberately working to change our perspectives to be utterly fascinating. It gives me hope to know that it’s possible to train ourselves to see the world and others in a different way and to realize that we may have been stuck in a very narrow way of thinking. Bourelle showed how viewing the world in this new way can greatly benefit leaders and their organizations. (Bourelle n.d.)
I just read the abstract of the employer branding article you cited, but it sounds fascinating. From what I gather, employer branding, when used in this context, shows prospective employees from various cultures the accepting attitudes of the employer toward those cultures. (JSTOR preview n.d.) As business becomes more and more global and people from all over the world become more educated and mobile, this type of branding will only become more important.
Finally, I appreciated your observations about helping new members to acclimate to their new work culture. As a very new employee, I certainly appreciate the people who have reached out to me to make my transition easier.
From your perspective, which of these things does your own company do well? Do you feel supported as a leader to incorporate a variety of viewpoints? Thanks!
JSTOR preview. n.d. “Employer Brand Image as Predictor of Employee Satisfaction, Affective Commitment & Turnover.” Accessed October 1, 2021. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41149467
Bourrelle, Julien S. Year n.d. “How Culture Drives Behaviours.” TEDxTrondheim. YouTube. Accessed October 1, 2021. Video, 12:07. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Yy6poJ2zs
I agree it is empowering that we can rewire our brains. I find it particularly intriguing in terms of meditation practice. There is a plethora of data showing meditation changes the structure of the brain. The benefits would also be useful for a leader as they include staying calm in pressure situations, generating creative ideas, and having a quality memory that fuels learning from experiences. The video I posted below emphasized that our habits form neural pathways that grow progressively stronger.
Overtime, the tasks we do on a regular basis are going to get easier and require less effort. One example is reading. When kids first learn to read it takes a lot of concentration, and then it becomes automatic. So, a leader can leverage this knowledge to become more efficient and supportive.
Here it is:
Comment by Professor Gnuse:
Mary, good explanations use of the source materials to support the claims. Good mentioning of communication as it is one of the most important facets just detailed regarding leadership style. Interesting that you brought up Employer Branding as more that a recruitment tool for new talent. Marketing your own employees to create buy-in makes good sense.