Multicultural interactions are complicated and require balance. Therefore, the skills a global leader needs are important, and there are few easy answers. Barbara Schaetti, Sheila Ramsey, and Gordon Watanabe are pioneers who have developed new methods to deal with exactly these issues, called Personal Leadership. They identify three styles that can describe an extraordinary global leader: learning, appreciative, and receptive.
Learning leaders are curiosity about both themselves and others. They are constantly reflecting on what is going on both inside and outside themselves. At the same time, they see new experiences as opportunities to learn. They are honest with themselves because they know that this allows them to grow.
Appreciative leaders have a positive mindset. They look for what is “right” about a situation instead of focusing on what is wrong. They look for — and find — the best in the people, situations, and things that are around them. Then, they leverage those strengths to create greater good. Appreciative leaders are visionary and know how to inspire and encourage others.
Receptive leaders are aware of their participation in a higher order. They have a sense of “presence.” They are aware of both their relationships with themselves and their relationships with the world around them. They have the ability to allow new ideas and actions to emerge through them. They know how to “just be” instead of maintaining constant business and tuning out the world around them through a tunnel-vision type of focus.
This three step process can help you build your awareness and improve your skill as a global leader:
1) Recognize “Something’s Up” moments. Something is wrong. You feel emotionally off balance. Something in the situation just isn’t right.
2) Cultivate stillness and then invite reflection: take some time to really think about what’s going on. Go for a walk, sit somewhere peaceful and quiet, practice yoga — whatever helps you really re-center and calm down. When you’re ready, reflect on what happened. You can take notes or talk it through with a friend if that is helpful to you. Choose someone who can be trusted to just listen and not advise. Focus on these elements:
- Judgments you may be making about the situation
- The emotions you are feeling in the situation
- The physical sensations you are experiencing in your body
- What are you assuming to be true, without absolute proof?
- Ask yourself: What do I not know? (Hint: there are usually numerous things you don’t know. Ask yourself this question several times at different points in your reflection process. This question is key!)
- Where the situation is out of alignment with your vision of yourself (or your organization) at its highest and best?
3) Determine the right action: Decide what needs to be done or said (if anything). Then decide how, when, and with whom you will take action.
As you get used to this process, it becomes easier and more natural, and can lead to much greater clarity.
To get started immediately, spend some time working out a personal vision for yourself as the global leader you hope to be. Consider including characteristics of these leadership styles in your description. Then use this vision as a tool to identify elements of a situation that are out of alignment. Sometimes the thing that is most out of alignment are your own thoughts and reactions. Knowing when this is the case makes it much easier to take effective action. It also helps you claim responsibility for your own actions and responses.
This simple process can transform your perspective about any situation and quickly and effectively highlight areas where changes need to be made — or help you see when you are already doing all you can. Building personal leadership is the first step to becoming a powerful global leader.
— by Desiree Beauchamp
(based on Schaetti, B.F., Ramsey, S.J., & Watanabe, G. (2009). From intercultural knowledge to intercultural competence. In M. A. Moodian (Ed.). Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: exploring the cross-cultural dynamics within organizations. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.)