15 Edifying Experiences That Help Leaders Learn To Lead

The best leaders develop their skills on the field and learn from their experience.

They acknowledge that they do not know everything, that their learning process is singular but they are curious and are open to learn.

It is common knowledge that experience is the best teacher. Your experiences will help you develop a leadership style, a communication style, core values, purpose, character and emotional discipline.

Wondering how and which experiences can teach you how to lead?

15 Edifying Experiences That Help Leaders Learn To Lead

25 Edifying Experiences That Help Leaders Learn To Lead

Through your experiences, if you take time out to extract the lessons from your experiences, you will become a wiser and successful leader.

#1. When You Fail

At some point in your career, you will fail as a leader or as a person. You will fail to meet deadlines, to perform or to succeed.

However, every leader knows that you cannot let failure define you and that you must go on.

Indeed, failure is most often seen in a negative light but shows you what you are really made of.

Failure are inevitable, are a factor for change, redirects your career, helps you change procedures and your character.

Experiencing failure teaches you to:

  • Be more self-aware.
  • Identify the cues of failure.
  • Don’t punish yourself for failures and forgive yourself.
  • Measure the consequences of the mistakes and take responsibility for the failure.
  • Encourage constructive criticism as much as feedback is given.
  • Make immediate analysis and changes to fix the mistakes.
  • Be smart and learn from the mistakes made.
  • Be wise and learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Create an environment that is safe to make mistakes and to recover from them.
Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward. - John C. Maxwell Click To Tweet

#2. When You Get Familiar With Positivity & Success

Positive experiences are highly memorable and can change your life forever.

Positive attitudes can become difficult to maintain in challenging situations in the workplace. But once acquired, it is a habit that can help you overcome bad situations.

Indeed, positivity ensures progress, diffuses situations, alleviates stress, reduces fear, increases endurance, increase self-esteem, attracts positive results and better opportunities.

There are many ways to bring positivity into the workplace and into your mind. When you get familiar with positivity and success, you learn to:

#3. When You Promote Forgiveness

Forgiveness is often seen as weakness in the workplace. However, it is an efficient tool to avoid toxic conflicts, boost productivity, motivation and well-being.

Truthfully, in the workplace, people are sensitive about their work, feelings get hurt easily and emotions get high. It becomes essential to:

  • Forgive yourself when you have wronged someone or yourself.
  • Forgive others for their wrongdoings as well.

Becoming a forgiving person will teach you to:

  • Be compassionate and to let things go.
  • Not define yourself by your mistakes.
  • Not focus on the past and to be present.
  • Do your best next time.

#4. When You Find A Role Model

A role model can be a family member, a friend, a coworker, or another leader.

Role models provide sound advice, ongoing feedback, emotional support, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, higher self-esteem, better focus, stronger confidence.

Emulating their thoughts and behavior can improve your mind and teach you how to lead.

Keep in mind that you can learn from a bad leader as much as a good leader.

#5. When You Enjoy Solitude

Solitude and leadership often go hand in hand.

That is because, though leaders have family, friends, mentors and large network, they are the ones making the ultimate decision for their organization and not everyone will agree with their decisions.

However, solitude can give you time to think, to understand who you are and how you want to lead.

Leadership is also having the power to stand alone.

Leadership is also having the power to stand alone. - Vanessa Sylvester Click To Tweet

#6. When You Find Your Purpose or Renew Your Vision

You need to know why you work and your team needs to know why they work for you.

It is the vision that leads you and propels you forward, that wakes you up in the morning, that drives your performance, that is communicated to your employees, that gives meaning to your actions and decisions, and that leans on your belief systems.

Leaders with a vision are ambitious and satisfied with their lives, become hopeful and optimistic about the future, invite change, and select their employees according to their strengths and not their weaknesses.

They are also daring and don’t fear failure, are emotionally invested in their goals, flexible, persistent, resistant to social pressure and are convinced of their future success.

With purpose, leaders can easily overcome adversity. - Vanessa Sylvester Click To Tweet

#7. When You Have To Chose Being Like Vs. Being Respected

I am sure that at some point, you have realized that you get more things done when your coworkers like you.

However, in these situations, you can quickly become a people pleaser and lose the respect of your coworkers.

There comes a time when you have to decide whether you want to be liked or to be respected.

#8. When You Experience Different Cultures

You have experienced different cultures and are now culturally sensitive.

Cultural sensitivity is being aware that everyone is not the same. It means being able to learn from different people, to understand their backgrounds, to collaborate and cooperate with them, without being judgmental.

Cultural sensitivity means viewing everyone as a unique individual. It promotes unity and has become a skill that is most useful in the world of today.

You are now capable of adapting your leadership and communication style to every single member of your team.

You are also capable of shifting the focus from yourself to your team.

#9. When You Thought You Knew It All 

Not because you are the leader, that you have all the solutions or are always right.

In fact, being a leader is being placed in a position of service and humility.

To be a humble leader:

  • Be confident about your own capabilities.
  • Take the time to think and to come up with a solution.
  • Understand that being a leader is not about being right.
  • Give people the time to think for themselves and to make their own mistakes.
  • Acknowledge that someone on your team may have better ideas than you do.
  • Learn to ask for help and to detect if someone needs help.
  • Learn to ponder your responses.

#10. When You Have Foot In The Mouth Syndrome

Sometimes, we say whatever comes to our mind.

Other times, we blurt out things that we don’t mean but we haven’t measured the real impact of our words.

In these moments, we understand that we should be quiet, that we should learn to speak less and listen more.

#11. When You Get Caught Up In Office Politics

Office politics is often badly perceived because it can be cruel, calculated and manipulative.

Sometimes, office politics is a dangerous and corrosive game but it is a game. It is part of human nature, a social activity, a marathon and not a sprint.

Other times, properly navigating office politics can give you access to leadership opportunities and promotion.

Once you have experienced office politics, you become aware of the power play, of how you speak and listen to people.

You start making sure that you are robust, are not dependent on people or other external factors, that you are emotionally detached from your work and that you can clearly separate your identity from your job.

#12. When You Have To Deal With Toxic Coworkers

We all have been exposed during a period of time to annoying, hateful, toxic coworkers who can drive us crazy.

Whether it’s confronting a team member about their behavior or their performance, toxic coworkers can take a toll on you.

However, it can also help you grow and become a better leader.

#13. When You Have Identified Your Core Leadership Values

Core values are principles that build your character and that define who you are deep down.

In life and in the workplace, your core values will definitely be put to the test.

For example, some people will not hesitate to lie on you or to sabotage your work to advance their career.

Consolidating your core leadership values requires hard work, determination, daily practice and self-discipline.

#14. When You Welcome Change

If you have experienced drastic change in the workplace, you know that is better not to resist it.

Change is a part of life, is a constant and is inevitable. Change shakes things up, disrupts old habits, breathes new life into the workplace and into any project.

Furthermore, it has the ability to stimulate interest in your job. It also creates an opportunity for promotion and to develop new skills.

Welcoming change teaches you to:

  • Be a catalyst for change and to champion innovation.
  • Regularly get outside of your comfort zone.
  • Handle feedback, setbacks and opportunities.

#15. When You Assist Training Programs

You have been to different seminars and courses and realized that you have acquired so much skills and tools in such short time.

You have also met like-minded people who understand you vision.

Last Words Of Advice!

There are various ways that a leader can learn new skills and can learn how to lead.

Every experience is an opportunity to test your skills and to learn some new ones.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

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Are You Feeling Like An Outsider At Work? — 17 Simple Tips To Turn Your Situation Around

On my last 9 to 5 job, I remember my manager complaining to me that I would no longer be part of the team because I am too different, I asked too many questions and I don’t act like them or watch the same TV shows that they do.

Now at the time, I thought I wasn’t getting it and that I was failing at adulting.

Clearly, if I wanted to be successful in life and in my career, I either had to fake it and drain myself, or I needed to find another path and distance myself from “them”.

The point is that most organizations want their employees to be different and have original skills.

However, the reality is that most workplaces adhere to group-thinking, and create outsiders by forcing them to suppress their individuality for conformity.

Wondering what are the benefits of being an outsider and how you can overcome that feeling?

Are You Feeling Like An Outsider At Work? — 17 Simple Tips To Turn Your Situation Around

What is an outsider?

An outsider is a person who doesn’t feel like they belong. At work, that feeling translates itself into:

  • Feeling unsuccessful. According to society, being a successful adult at work means being great at your job, understanding and applying social norms.
  • Being unable to join a group or to find someone who matches your values and principles to some extent.
  • Being unable to express yourself freely in meetings and around a group of people.
  • Being excluded out of meetings or out of group conversations. If you are perpetually being excluded and are subject to other workplace harassment, your workplace is toxic and you must consider your mental health first.

Why are you feeling the way you do?

We are social creatures. We crave that feeling of belonging to a group that will take care of us and that will cooperate for better chances of survival.

Therefore, to get things done, we feel like we must fit in, preserve our well-being and be liked. Furthermore, feeling like an outsider can stem from:

  • A lack of cultural sensitivity. It is easy to feel excluded when we don’t understand a culture or when we don’t feel understood because of the cultural barrier.
  • A lack of social skills, a lack of confidence, a shy, introverted or lone wolf personality. Basically, feeling like an outsider is a social conditioning.
  • Your negative thoughts. If you believe certain things about yourself then they will most likely come through.
  • Differences in core values. For example, if most of your workplace like to gossip and you don’t, then you will start to feel excluded.
  • Gender gap. 
  • Generational gap. Each generation perceives the world differently and challenges the previous one. In one generation, people are shaped by social trends, are programmed with thoughts, values, moral ethics, models, examples of success and the guidelines to succeed.

What are the benefits of being an outsider?

I was brought up with the conviction that different is good. I believe that there are several ways of doing one thing.

So, I would never be thrown off if someone would go about life in an unconventional way. If you’re feeling like an outsider, chances are you:

  • Possess untapped talents and unused skills. Your feeling of being an outsider disappears when you find a place where you can exercise your gifts.
  • Are aware that you are not maximizing your potential and you are not walking in your purpose.
  • Are creative, innovative, are a trailblazer and a leader. Indeed, most leaders are outsiders. They have unique gifts and a unique perception of the world.
  • Can monetize what makes you different.

How to handle being an outsider?

Feeling included at work leads to better health, stronger work performance and brides a positive work environment. However, if you feel like an outsider, you are not alone.

Indeed, the feeling of being an outsider is very common and is not something to be ashamed of. Some people hide it, others don’t front. What is the best approach?

To claim your difference and get the best out of work:

  1. Accept yourself and take pride in your difference.
  2. Be compassionate with yourself. Not because you don’t fit in that there is something wrong with you.
  3. Strengthen your own identity and find out more about your core values.
  4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can better apply them.
  5. Figure out your goals, build a vision board and remain focus on your goals.
  6. Understand that you don’t need to fit in to be successful and don’t need to be one-dimensional to exist.
  7. Acknowledge that feeling like an outsider is not a permanent nor unique situation. You can be the most wonderful person on this planet and still feel like an outsider.
  8. Stop trying hard to fit in. The more you try, the more you feel drained, the more you will end up with the wrong crowd. You just have to be prepared for when the right opportunities and people come your way.
  9. Assess your behavior and your thoughts towards your situation. Then, document your situation. Are you new to the company? Are people enjoying your company? Are people including you? Are you reserved or standoffish? Do you like, respect or understand the people you work with?
  10. Give yourself the time and space to explore what works for you, what you like and what you don’t like. There is no right place for you. You have to create your own space and not settle for less.
  11. Express who you truly are from time to time and observe what happens next. You will either create or shut off opportunities.
  12. Fill your days with activities that you enjoy.
  13. Build a strong support system with people who accept you for who you are.
  14. Support people who think and act outside the box. People who think outside the box are usually creative and innovative.
  15. Don’t pay attention to what people say about you. Don’t let external circumstances define you.
  16. Stop people pleasing and seeking outside validation. Avoid adjusting your personality and your core values to please people. Instead, observe the social norms at work, see if you want to acquire these norms, and then adjust your communication style, your work style accordingly.
  17. Otherwise, prepare an exit strategy.

Last words of Advice!

Sometimes, we have acquired all the diploma, all the skills for a job and still feel like an outsider.

Remember that there are benefits in not fitting in, that you are not failing, that you can be a leader and create your own path, that if you are not liked or included then you can be respected.

I have found that becoming an expert in your field will help you feel like you belong and will help you gain in credibility.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

30 Questions Every Leader Should Ask Themselves

Being a great leader depends on how well they know themselves. Leaders must make sure that they are self-aware, clearly communicate their goals and expectations, reach their goals, set high standards, expect quality work and meet deadlines, demonstrate that all their team members matter, show gratitude, don’t settle and spend time with their team.

Needless to say, a little introspection is required from time to time.

Wondering how do you become the best version of yourself? 

30 Questions Every Leader Should Ask Themselves

Sometimes, we end up in or go after leadership positions but don’t understand why or how we got there.

It is always important to assess our goals, values and purpose every step of the way.

1) What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership encapsulates different concepts and key competencies.

For most, leadership is the ability to wheel power, to influence people positively in order to be successful, to bring like-minded individuals together towards a common goal or vision and to translate that vision into reality.

In order to be effective you must figure out what leadership means to you.

2) Why do you want to be a leader? What is your purpose in life?

Most people want to lead because they see themselves in power, in control, with status and doing whatever they want.

However, leaders are always held accountable for their actions, have to serve as models and have to exhibit exemplary behavior.

Without an ethical purpose in mind, they will not be able to sustain their role very long.

If you weren’t a leader, what would you do? What career would you pursue?

3) What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

Do you have sufficient resources to achieve your goals and yourself?

Leaders must find at least one field in which they excel. This will develop their credibility, their confidence and will help you be of assistance to people in need.

4) What are your core values? 

If your leadership roles don’t correspond to your values, it is time to rethink your career.

5) How do you center yourself? 

Learning to center yourself, to choose peace of mind requires that you acquire new healthy habits and that you question your thoughts that most often are an illusion or distorted memories.

Figure out how to preserve your time and energy, how to ensure your growth, how to continually improve as a person, and how to boost your leadership self-esteem?

6) Can you grow within your role and responsibilities?

Some people get into positions to please their families, impress their friends or flatter their own egos.

A job or a role in which you feel boxed in is frustrating, leaves little space for you to develop your skills or maximize your strengths.

7) How do you wish to impact the world and the people around you?

As a leader, you must project yourself in the future and visualize the legacy that you want to leave.

8) Do you walk the talk? 

Integrity is currently a rare character trait and most sought after leadership attribute that can help you succeed in the workplace as much as in life.

It actually goes a long way and projects more authority and credibility than a title or a position would.

Furthermore, the team you lead, the environment that you work in is a direct reflection of you. If you want a trusting workplace, be trustworthy.

9) Are you open to learn?

Being open to learn and to explore is detrimental to success.

To start the learning process, you can read books, take trainings and classes, and talk to people who are in positions that you aspire to.

Furthermore, you must understand that if you seek knowledge, you will never fully be an expert.

10) Are you developing a healthy work life balance?

Creating work-life balance is not giving equal attention to both work and life.

But, it means that you are satisfied with your contributions to your life and work, that you are able to create a sustainable synergy between both so that you are fueled by them on a daily basis.

To do so, you must focus on the vital few and not let your career affect your personal life and vice versa.

11) Are you self-interested or committed to the collective good?

We choose a certain career because our ever-changing needs and desires align with that particular career but not necessarily with the collective good.

In the leadership position, there is a huge discrepancy between hiring the right person with the right competencies for the job, between hiring someone with lesser competencies to feel unthreatened, between hiring someone to serve you and caress your ego.

There is also a difference between wanting the organization to succeed, wanting the team and the project to shine, and taking all the credit for someone else’s work.

12) What is your favorite leadership style

Leadership style refers to the way that the leader interacts with his or her employees, influences their behavior, motivates them, make decisions for them and for the organization.

A specific leadership style can deeply influence the quality of work, the levels of commitment, the work satisfaction of both leader and employees.

13) Are you emotionally intelligent?

We cannot control everything in our life.

However, we can control how we react to different situations, how we see ourselves and who we aspire to be.

14) Are you able to solve conflicts effectively?

Leaders must be able to anticipate problems and implement solutions for the future. What strategies do you apply? How do you handle bad news? How do you set boundaries? Do you encourage dissension?

15) Do you have interpersonal skills?

There are several components to leadership. One of them is building and maintaining healthy relationships.

Leaders are responsible for the people they hire and the people that they lead. How do you build your team?

16) Are you culturally sensitive? 

Cultural sensitivity is being aware that everyone is different.

It means being able to learn from different people, to understand their backgrounds, to collaborate and cooperate with them, without being judgmental.

17) When have you failed, how have you recovered yourself and what have you learned about yourself then? 

Failures don’t directly lead to success but it can show you the way. It is best when your mistakes come to light rather than going unnoticed.

18) What are your greatest achievements as a leader and as a follower?

It is important to recall the time you have succeeded and demonstrated great leadership.

The memory of past success will serve you right when you face challenges. If you did it once, then you can do it again.

19) Are you able to direct someone else towards success? 

Mentorship is usually the realization of leadership.

It is similar to tutorship, to parenthood, to partnership, or to an alliance.

20) Are you able to delegate?

Delegating increases employee empowerment and talent engagement, leads to higher levels of commitment, innovationmotivation, and better relationships..

21) Are you able to perform under pressure?

As a leader, your behavior in pressure moments impacts those around you and can predict their performance.

22) How do you solve problems and make sound decisions?

The ability to anticipate, to solve problems, to make quick and sound decisions will determine the success of a leader.

23) How do you motivate others? Can you communicate your visions successfully?

Effective communication skills will improve your leadership credibility, your self-confidence, your relationships with others, your feelings of belonging and will decrease your stress level.

Your communication skills will also drive change and increase team motivation.

Using those skills, leaders should be pushing a vision for their life, for their family or their organization and it shouldn’t matter whether they have the right relationships, enough money, enough favors, or have hired people with the desired skill set.

24) Are you organized and can you meet deadlines?

Leaders don’t have the luxury to procrastinate because it is similar to self-sabotage. However, they are all subject to it to some extent.

Being organized, methodical, pragmatic will help you gain a sense of satisfaction and will increase your chances of success.

25) Who do you look up to?

It is critical to have a role model who will help you improve, achieve your goals and will show you your life purpose.

Your role model is authentic, relatable and can be a family member, a friend in your entourage or someone you barely know.

26) Can you handle change?

Change is a part of life, is a constant and is inevitable. Change shakes things up, disrupts old habits, breathes new life into the workplace and into any project.

Leaders must visibly act out the change, must be ready to do things differently and to think otherwise.

27) What do you hate the most and will not stand for?

You can’t always find out what you like but life has a funny way of putting you in front of the things that you hate the most.

28) Can you accept criticism from others?

Accepting criticism implies that you are able to listen, accept people point of view and give feedback as well.

29) Are you becoming too complacent?

30) What do you want to improve on?

 

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

Bridging The Generational Gap: From Boomers to Millennials

In today’s workplace, leaders of organizations must hire millennials and boomers to keep business running. For the sake of their organization, leaders must have them collaborating, handling constructive conflicts and effectively dealing with change.

However, conflicts in the workplace, involving different generations, are old as time, are common, are inevitable and ought to be handled quickly before they get out of hand.

Conflicts usually arise when one generation is leading or managing another. These days, boomers are passed over for promotions, millennials are put in leadership roles and tend to manage boomers because they have a researched set of skills that are beneficial to the company.

Bridging the generational gap helps in making better decisions, reducing employee turnover, strengthening team cohesion and in building innovative products.

Wondering how to bridge the generation gap and build a more collaborative workplace?

Bridging The Generational Gap: From Boomers to Millennials

A generation is a period of time when people perceived the world differently. In one generation, people are shaped by social trends, are programmed with thoughts, values, moral ethics, models, examples of success and the guidelines to succeed.

Three generations rub shoulders in corporate: the baby-boomers (1946-1964), the generation X (1965-1980) and the millennials (1980-2000). Needless to say, each generation has their own set of strengths, weaknesses and of requirements in order to give their best at work.

The Baby-Boomers Generation

Boomers are the most famous generation and have a different set of values. They trust the system, understand hierarchy, follow rules and obey orders.

They believe in seniority and meritocracy. Indeed, they stay at a job for the longest time and wait for an opportunity for advancement.

Strengths

Employees from the baby-boomer generation:

  • Define their identity through their jobs.
  • Have a strong work ethic. They are hardworking even workaholics.
  • Are concerned about the quality of their contributions at work.
  • Are loyal to their organization and expect loyalty in return.
  • Have good people skills and build healthy relationships.
  • Are capable of team work.

Weaknesses

Employees from the baby-boomer generation:

  • Respect hierarchy and don’t challenge the status quo.
  • Depend on seniority for career advancement.
  • Unable to welcome change. They don’t understand that the world is changing and are unable to quickly evolve with it.
  • Have a poor work life balance. They are not flexible with their time, burn out easily and are willing to sacrifice their work life balance.

Requirements

To perform to the best of their abilities, employees from the baby-boomer generation require:

  • Appreciation, respect, fairness and equity of treatment.
  • Involvement on the job.
  • Job satisfaction.
  • Health care and retirement package.

The Generation X

This generation no longer trust the system and believe that corporations don’t have their best interest at heart.

Strengths

Employees from the generation X:

  • Are innovative and creative.
  • Are authentic. They feel the need to know and be themselves in every situation.
  • Are autonomous, independent, loyal to self and self-reliant.
  • Are flexible, task oriented and multi-taskers.
  • Take initiative and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Weaknesses

Employees from the generation X:

  • Lack clear purpose.
  • Are insubordinate. They no longer comply to authority and are defiant.
  • Are easily bored. They need to be kept on challenging or high-profile projects.
  • Are individualistic. They put themselves and the well-being of their family first.
  • Lack commitment to an organization.

Requirements

To perform to the best of their abilities, employees from the generation X require:

  • Automatic respect.
  • That their leaders apply a laissez-faire or a democratic leadership style.
  • Short termed challenging projects.
  • To understand the reasons of a task before undertaking said task.
  • A healthy work life balance: they put family first, no matter what.
  • Unique, fun and informal organization with flexible hours.
  • Career advancement or a constant interest in their assignment. If they don’t get what they want or need, they jump ship.
  • High salaries and rewards proportional to their contributions at work.

The Millennials

Millennials are idealist and have a more democratic way of viewing the world. They intend to make work fun and purposeful, to innovate and to invest themselves.

They have high expectations for their jobs, are now able to blow the whistle easily, seek fairness and integrity in their leaders.

Strengths

Millennial employees:

  • Have an ability to connect with the world and to quickly share information.
  • Use online communication effectively.
  • Are positive and are culturally sensitive.
  • Are ambitious, innovative and drive change.
  • Seek learning opportunities and desire accomplishments.
  • Have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Are capable of team work.

Weaknesses

Millennial employees:

  • Lack interpersonal skills.
  • Have poor decision-making and problem-solving skills.
  • Need constant guidance and feedback.

Requirements

To perform to the best of their abilities, millennial employees require:

Bridging the generational gap

The collaboration of generations is essential to develop any organization. To bridge the generational gap and to retain more employees:

  1. Get to know your employees personally.
  2. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your employees.
  3. Customize your leadership style to your employees.
  4. Keep a respectful tone, stay professional and use formal language, especially with boomers.
  5. Give people a reason to work for your organization.
  6. Transfer knowledge between generations.
  7. Put people in the right positions.
  8. Remind all parties involved that they have more commonalities than differences.
  9. Disintegrate stereotypes about people from different generations. For example, boomers can learn how to handle technology and millennials are not lazy.
  10. Promote the benefits of diversity and cultural sensitivity.
  11. Adapt your employees working hours to the organization and exemplify a healthy work life balance.
  12. Help people gain new skills by putting them on different projects.
  13. Upgrade your employees interpersonal skills.
  14. Provide technological trainings.
  15. Suggest mentoring program.
  16. Recognize and reward your employees for their contributions.
  17. Give positive feedback, especially to millennials.
  18. Have an open door policy to hear employee complaints and ideas.
  19. Set high expectations for your employees and expect the best from them.
  20. Welcome initiative, innovation and creativity.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

Dealing With Cultural Sensitivity In The Workplace

In the world we live in, with a supremacist leader as the leader of the free world, it seems that culturally ignorant people feel free to demonstrate their ignorance. Lately, cultural ignorance and overtly offending people have been maximized, and this behavior is slowly becoming the norm.

At work and in life, leaders are the ones to demonstrate exemplary behavior when dealing with people from different backgrounds. They have to be emotionally and culturally intelligent.

Wondering how to adjust yourself with different cultures, to become more culturally sensitive and create a healthy workplace?

Cultural Sensitivity Workplace

What is culture?

Culture is a dynamic and complex system of shared values, norms and symbols that distinguishes groups of people from others and that bound them together. It is demonstrated most often in literature, art, religion, language, traditions.

Furthermore, culture is learnt, and shapes one’s personal behavior, values, thoughts, experiences. for example, it defines one’s reaction to conflict or our problem solving skills.

Culture lays the basis for purpose, a higher calling and meaning in life. It is built on morals and a set of unspoken rules. It also conditions our perception for failure and success.

What is cultural sensitivity?

Cultural sensitivity is being aware that everyone is not the same. It means being able to learn from different people, to understand their backgrounds, to collaborate and cooperate with them, without being judgmental.

Cultural sensitivity means viewing everyone as a unique individual. It promotes unity and has become a skill that is most useful in the world of today.

Why is cultural sensitivity important?

Cultural sensitivity is detrimental because it introduces the concept of identity, of cultural appreciation, of cultural differences. It consequently increase the feeling of belonging and of safety. It improves communication, the quality of work in multinationals or when dealing with coworkers from different backgrounds. In addition, it removes the idea of cultural superiority.

Contrasting cultures bring a diverse set of knowledge, competencies, perspectives and ideas. If positively and purposefully harnessed, culture differences can trigger innovation, creativity and improve job satisfaction.

How to become a culturally sensitive leader?

Work is a part of an individual social identity. Corporate has its own culture, with its norm, its rules, its own values and own systems of beliefs. If the culture is healthy and positive, people easily feel empowered, valued and give better results.

In the corporate culture, managing people with different backgrounds is complex and full of challenges. Regardless of the laws in place, there are a lot of micro aggression towards diversity.

To create culturally sensitive environment, and subsequently a healthy workplace:

  1. Encourage self-awareness and self-development. Change is an internal process that requires self-analysis and self-respect beforehand.
  2. Stay authentic and don’t try to appropriate or claim someone else’s culture.
  3. Be mindful, be open to new experiences and don’t hesitate to explore and learn new things.
  4. Remember, with every interaction, that every person from a different culture is a human-being.
  5. Embrace people who are different from yourself. Get to know the person’s background to understand their behavior, how they operate in society and how they experience life.
  6. Listen actively and respectfully to people and when speaking, choose your words carefully.
  7. Avoid imposing your ideas on people and forcing them into a box of stereotypes.
  8. Take the initiative and learn other people’s dynamics through personal experience or prolonged exposure.
  9. Identify some idioms and sayings. Also, pronounce their name correctly and accept silence as an act of communication. Learning their language will consequently improve communication.
  10. Show appreciation for someone else’s culture. On one hand, demonstrate empathy and avoid judging them. On the other hand, don’t pander too much to someone else’s culture.
  11. Ask probing open-ended questions. Avoid asking too many questions as not to overwhelm your interlocutor.
  12. Help your employees to understand the company’s culture, expectations, goals and code of conduct.
  13. Work on your social skills. Focus on building healthy relationships.
  14. Effectively navigate conflicts brought by cultural differences.
  15. Pick up on emotional and non verbal cues during conversations.
  16. Take and provide diversity trainings.
  17. If you are part of the majority, seek understanding before seeking to be understood. opening up to minorities will help them accept yours faster, to face challenges better and will increase their work performance.
  18. Respect that other people won’t want to integrate your culture. 
  19. Allow people to express freely their values. This will increase their interactions with others, their work performance and their well-being.
  20. Learn to compromise.
  21. Encourage your team to travel more and to approach diverse group of people outside of work.

Adjusting or understanding a culture is a long process. Learning and adjusting to someone else’s culture doesn’t mean that you have to deny your own. It just means that you are able to work and collaborate with people from diverse culture.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

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Developing Multicultural Leaders by Farid A. Muna and Ziad A. Zennie

developping

Developing Multicultural Leaders  by  Farid A. Muna and Ziad A. Zennie strives to understand the journey to leadership success, in the Middle East, focusing on work achievements as the definition of success.

This book analyzes and compares Western and Middle Eastern leadership success models and competencies. Additionally, a framework has been developped for leadership success, by identifying to whom, why, how and when leadership success happens, by using diverse scholar findings and by directly interviewing Middle Eastern leaders and managers.

Thorough statics are provided and leaders personal accomplishments and testimonies are shared.

Finally, Muna and Zennie share their perceptions on displaying or grooming leadership skills and qualities. Muna and Zennie, according to their research, state the following:

  • There are five paths of leadership success: culturally sensitive, cultivating emotional intelligence, working hard and smart, training, career development and self-development.
  • Leadership success is obtained with determination, persistency, luck and/or the support of a great mentor.
  • Traveling, working, studying or living overseas has an impact on multicultural/multinational leadership. The qualities of a leaders is also influenced by culture.

Review

Developing Multicultural Leaders is similar to a research publication.

This book is insightful and useful to leaders and managers working in multicultural and/or multinational settings.

It searches for the commonalities of leadership skills, agrees that most people are not born but made leaders and confirms that certain backgrounds provide natural leadership abilites (natural born leaders should continually seek improvement).

Directly interviewing Middle Eastern leaders and managers in the process in addition of incorporating culture as a factor of leadership success made this book much more relatable.

Favorite quotes

Cultural differences, however, lead some people to believe that “if it’s different from my own culture, it is probably wrong.” This ethnocentric view could be damaging to relations whether on the international, regional, or organizational level, and it is certainly counterproductive to doing business globally.

Ratings 4/5

About the author

Ziad A. Zennie

Farid A. Muna