To interpret the culture and its impact on conflict we must begin to understand inquisitiveness is at the core of effective global leadership (Black, Morrison, & Gregersen, 1999, p 27). To best bridge the gap of conflict it becomes important to consider one’s own cultural literacy. We must start with our own core values and beliefs and then be able to clearly communicate them to our followers (Rosen, 2000, p191). Yet, understanding one’s own core values is only the start. We must understand the culture from which we operate. Literature argues that Westerners will often misinterpret cultural responses specifically in the area of cultural indirectness. Such indirectness, such as found in high-context polychronic cultures, is seen as “(1) lack of courage to confront the person, (2) unwillingness to deal with the issue, (3) lack of communication to solve the problem or (4) refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions” (Elmer, 1993, p 53).
Literature argues that personal transformation is needed in doing business across cultures (McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002, p 215). Stanford (2009) argues transformation begins with leaders who are able to manage their mindset as it relates to: themselves (the reflective mindset); organizations (the analytical mindset); context (the worldly mindset); relationships (the collaborative mindset); change (the action mindset) (p 225).
Conflicts are inevitable. Understanding conflicts are most likely to occur when a person or a group feels that their social, psychological, emotional, physical, or other space is threatened (Stanford, 2009, p 235). We must transcend our own cultural defaults and look beyond the horizon to other ways of thinking to begin to understand cultural conflicts. The application of adaptation and an ability to separate the person from the problem (Lanier, 2012) is essential to a leaders overall effectiveness in cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution.
Black, J. Stewart, Morrison, Allen J., and Gregersen, Hal B. (1999). Global Explorers. New York, NY: Routledge
Rosen Robert (2000). Global Literacies. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
McCall, Morgan W. and Hollenbeck, George P. (2002). Developing Global Executives. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Stanford, Naomi (2009). Guide to Organisation Design. London, England: Profile Books, Ltd.
Lanier, John (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.
Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.