Leadership Authenticity Marries Cultural Diversity

Knowledge of cultural nuances is imperative when doing business. Diversity across domains, vertically, horizontally within a company or between countries is stark at times. Hence education is a must.

“Cultures vary across countries”. 

“Cultures also change within an organisation as it grows from Start-up to Maturity”. 

“How can a leader change and adapt his style & approach to suit the different cultures?”

These were the questions posed to me by a visiting delegation of European bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and professional. They were on an exchange program between the respective Governments. They also queried – as a Foreign Investor – how can they prepare themselves to be successful investors in India. 

In my more than three decades of experience – leading organisations at National - Regional - Global scale, from US$ 50 MN size to USE 2 BN, merging an Acquisition of an entrepreneur-led organisation into a large body corporate – I have always faced these questions on Leadership and Culture. Having lived and worked nine years in China, six years in South East Asia (Singapore) and three years in North America/Europe of my 30-year professional life – I have always practised and believed in Leadership being Authentic. Any form of Leadership – which differs from “who you are at the core” is visible to the outside world immediately – and you come across as “hollow/artificial”. Be Authentic. Let your vulnerabilities be as visible as your strengths – and this makes you stand out as a Leader. Your passion, energy, honesty, values, belief – define you and that makes you a natural leader – not only to your own team – but to your peers and extended Stakeholders. In my years in China – I could not speak Mandarin. It did not stop me from travelling extensively building Customer Relationships (B2B) and Distribution Network (B2C). Be Authentic – and deliver your promises/commitments.

Cultures are Diverse. We must be aware of Cultural Diversity. Cultures are influenced and shaped a lot by a Country/Community’s beliefs and practices. Do remember – when we have talent working for us in China or Russia or India or Germany: they have grown up in a set of Value Systems which differ. Cultures vary even within a country and even within the nature of Organisations – Manufacturing Vs Services, Government Vs Private. Culture is the Soul of the entity – it is the Oxygen that gives life to the entity. A Leader – needs to be aware of this – respect this – nurture this – and lead within its framework. It's Intangible – and often defines and shapes the outcome of the Resources, Structures and Processes laid out to shape an Organisation.

So the Mantra is: Leadership Authenticity – unlocking the magic of – Cultural Diversity.

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