By Dr. Sandra L. Torres
Globalization’s precipitate onslaught has forced many organizations to rethink their leadership strategies and has fostered increased cultural interdependence. This is particularly true in the business sector where many who work in the international arena have had to adapt quickly to the challenges of globalization. One example is how companies interact with employees and customers from different cultures.
The effects of globalization are by no means exclusively international, however. Economic, political, social and technical changes are leadership challenges whenever business caters to a culturally diverse customer base or workforce, whether in a multi-national or domestic setting. Some of the questions confronting today’s leaders include: Do we need to design multicultural organizations to serve a culturally diverse population? How do we manage organizations with culturally diverse employees? And, most importantly, how do we identify and select leaders to oversee these organizations?
What Is Meant By Culturally Diverse?
First, what is culture? The simplest way to define culture is to say that it is a set of learned beliefs, values, rules, norms, symbols, and traditions that are common to a group of people. These people also share qualities of a group that make them unique in having a shared way of life and similar customs.