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Cross-Cultural Competencies for Leaders

Cross-Cultural Competencies for Leaders

Global leaders require a unique set of skills beyond what is needed for everyday managerial practices. Unlike local managers, leaders in large multinational corporations encounter unique challenges. To effectively address these challenges, global leaders must be proficient in competencies to succeed in a fast-changing global environment. These include cultural sensitivity, cultural intelligence, culturally mindful communication, developing a global mindset, and the ability to form networks.

Cultural sensitivity is one of the top priority competencies for leaders managing multicultural teams. It refers to recognizing and accepting employees from different cultural backgrounds. Since cultural alignment affects employees’ behaviors, leaders must consider that employees will behave differently if they do not violate the organization’s code of conduct (Hassanzadeh et al., 2015). Global leaders should also train diverse teams to embrace cultural sensitivity to thrive.

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Secondly, cultural intelligence distinguishes between when a person operates from universal human influence and when they act based on cultural conditioning. Culturally competent global leaders control their behavior to exploit the potential of diverse teams. Third, cultural communication is effectively communicating with people from different cultures. Global leaders must appreciate the social and cultural norms of the host country and communicate appropriately (Hassanzadeh et al., 2015). For instance, in an American workplace, hierarchy rarely applies in employee-manager relationships. Accordingly, a Japanese manager working in America must accept that even junior employees will address them openly. The Japanese manager should also avoid being bossy in how they communicate.

Fourth, global leaders should embrace a global mindset when communicating with their juniors. A global mindset refers to relating freely with the host country’s population (Simier, 2018). For instance, a European executive working in America should drop the directness of European communication and instead be collaborative. Direct communication in America is viewed as rudeness. Fifth, global leaders should be open to creating new partners with local players. Once an organization starts operating in an international environment, it will encounter multiple challenges a local player can only solve (Simier, 2018). For instance, sourcing new hires may be a problem during the initial stages of business. Leaders must form partnerships with local recruitment agencies to hire the best talent.

The Most Difficult Competence to Attain

Communication is the hardest competence to attain among the five global leadership competencies. To learn appropriate communication, one needs to master the social life and culture of the host community. After that, one must understand the proper words in different contexts. For a leader, it is knowing all that takes time and effort.


Hassanzadeh, M., Silong, A. D., Asmuni, A., & Abd Wahat, N. W. (2015). Global Leadership Competencies. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 5(2).

SSimmer C. (2018). Council Post: Four Core Competencies for Leading Culturally Diverse Teams. Forbes.


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Cross-Cultural Competencies for Leaders

Cross-Cultural Competencies for Leaders

Explain the five cross-cultural competencies for leaders. Discuss which of the five competencies you think would be most challenging to attain for a public leader.

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