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Cultural Leadership Self Assesment

Essay by   •  December 15, 2015  •  Research Paper  •  2,640 Words (11 Pages)  •  486 Views

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Introduction

I was born and raised in a town of about 800 people and my High School consisted of about 250 kids from kindergarten to the 12th grade. I knew we were all different in race and in cultures but we grew up the same; we had known each other since pre-school. So technically speaking there was a difference but we did not separate ourselves in that manner. I didn’t even know the difference until I joined the Marine Corp. My unit was composed of mostly Caucasians, Hispanics and a few blacks just like High School. We were Marines so there was no difference. My time ended and I left the Marine Corp. I joined the Army a year later and this was the first time that I truly felt segregated by race, gender, and color. There were so many different people from everywhere and all of them had their own individuality. This was hard to accept as a subordinate because I was not acclimatized to this style of leadership or the servant followers segregating themselves by race. However, my ethical and religious background, charismatic personality allowed me to become a leader that could manage different personalities, different cultures, different races and genders to make one moving piece. I did not feel like this was common practice amongst my leadership though, it seemed like everyone stuck to their own kind and I was not used to segregation. Beating the individualism amongst my group was the hardest leadership challenge during my tenure as a leader.

Being culturally aware of others, and an American ambassador while stationed in other countries was no easy task. Being aware of my behavior towards others and being understanding of the cultures I was surrounded by made me a better leader. “To create a leadership that lasts over time, global leaders must show expected competence in cross-cultural awareness and practice. It is important they understand the significance of leadership and leadership expectations, and to develop and sustain effective leadership strategies for long-term change” (Ulrich & Smallwood, 2012)

Are you a culturally diverse / aware leader?

Being that I am the second generation born in this country I would say my leadership style is culturally diverse by birth. Wanting people to respect my culture I learned at a young age to respect other cultures as well. I gave respect to my peers regardless of what the return was. Kill them with kindness is how I grew up.

In saying that the definition of leadership is the power or skill of an individual to lead others towards the attainment of a goals. However you must recognize the ability of the whole group before influence and your direction can be misconstrued as something else. Getting to know the cultural differences and similarities will help you lead better. “Because of the different style of working and learning of these employees, leaders may sometimes consider these employees to be misfit for the organization. However, if a manager is able to recognize and value these differences, it can enhance the productivity of the organization.” (Kumar, Anjum, Sinha, 2011)

In 2008, I was selected to the Army Medical Command where I was responsible for 1 US Territory (Puerto Rico), 1 country (Cuba), and every military installation regardless of the designated branch and they were located in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. I was responsible for the retention of over 1500 individuals. Team oriented leadership was something new to me. Trust was something hard for me to do because I had always been hands on. Team–oriented leadership is defined as “emphasizes on team building and a common purpose among team members. This kind of leadership includes being collaborative, integrative, diplomatic, non-malevolent and administratively correct.” (Kumar, Anjum, Sinha, 2011) In order to build such a team I had to visit with each locations representative and he/she had to understand that we had to be one voice. Every word that came out of our mouth was a direct reflection of our Commanders intent. This was a very hard transition for me because up until now all of my subordinates were within arm’s reach and I would adjust my leadership style to the situation or challenges I faced. Relying on others from a distance was something I had no experience with. Effective communication is a priority amongst leaders. So building a relationship with my subordinates at this assignment was difficult but necessary. I had to trust the decisions that were made and transparent just as if I was the one making those decisions for my Commander. We had to be one voice and one model. There is a certain level of skill a leader needs to raise an organizations performance to run parallel with the objectives of the organization. Kotter wrote, “Good leaders produce important, positive change by providing vision, aligning people’s efforts with the organizations direction, and keeping people focused on the mission and vision by motivating and inspiring them. Good leadership can create a successful organization.”

In June of 2011 I was given another assignment to deploy to Afghanistan. This was the first time since 2001 since I actually stood in front of troops. My platoon was truly a melting pot. I had Soldiers who were native to Kenya, Columbia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Cayman Islands and the rest were from all over the United States. So putting together a team in 4 months before a deployment was no easy task. Patience is a virtue I do not have and understanding accents is something I find difficult to do as well. However, besides the accents was respect. Discipline is instilled in you by your superiors and respect is what is given to superiors. When dealing with different cultures this is not the case; in some aspects it only comes with royalty and status quo. The 22 year old young man I had from Kenya was the son of a head tribes men so his title and respect given to him was a birth right and the same goes for my Soldier from Sri Lanka and he was 45. The Sri Lankan culture is a peaceful culture and violence is kind of non-existent in their part of the world. Both of them came from cultures of status quo because of their age or their family. They did not understand once training was complete that doing what your told to do and how to do it was still a part of their daily life. In order create an atmosphere where productivity was possible I had to ask them to do things. I could not direct them because they would shut down. It created a huge amount of strife between other member of our platoon and I had to relieve them of their duties. “More and more teams are made up of people with different nationalities and therefore different cultures, languages, ideas, behaviors and ways of doing things. Some would argue that the ‘international language of business’ negates any communication issues within such a cross-cultural team; however those

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