4 tips to apply “Empathy” in the workplace

Empathy in the workplace

In part one – “Leadership Efficiency starts with Empathy” we started the conversation about what is Empathy and why it matters, we are continuing the discussion about the importance of Empathy in the workplace

In the workplace, managers are valued more for their people skills than their technical knowledge as per the Washington Business Journal, I have seen it many times, hardworking managers that have a lot of experience not moving up or barely advancing in their careers as they lack bedside manners or people skills. Emotional Intelligence and mainly empathy is getting in touch with one’s emotions and managing them when interacting with others for better managerial effectiveness.

One of the main managers’ job is to put out fires between diverse people as we work with a complex bunch of human beings (ethnically, racially, culturally, generationally, religiously, gender or sex orientation different) making all parties feel valued and respected and coming to a point of understanding that conflicting can be drawn to a win-win result rather than a win-lose theory.

Managers have to pull everyone in agreement in a respectful way, this can happen only if managers learn to be better with their emotions and not letting them control them, it is the key to getting through the workday. The only question is this: who is managing the manager and his or her emotions?

Employees’ perceptions of whether they are respected, regarded, and valued by management or not; depends on their cultural lens, their background, experiences, values and beliefs, this is where managers’ empathy is crucial to be able to deliver those feelings and use the proper words and expressions and how they are delivered

It is no secret that diversity, inclusion and culture competence rely heavily on empathy; where employees feel valued and respected for who they are individually is huge in increasing employee engagement, resulting in increased retention, job satisfaction, and job performance. When employees do not feel respected the results are correspondingly negative.

Not applying empathy, managers’ attitudes will lead to absenteeism, low morale, poor job performance and a lack of motivation, the insensitive, un-empathetic treatment of employees has been linked to accidents, sabotage and violence. Employees cannot be involved and engaged in a positive way if they are experiencing negative actions and reactions from their managers

Interpersonal skills training or diversity training alone doesn’t work, a clear understanding of why and how to acquire “empathy” has to be a block in building those trainings, also visiting unconscious bias and its reasons, and come out with solutions is at the root of advancing in acquiring empathy

Where to start?

1- The first step in learning or acquiring empathy starts from within, and not by studying people around us, is by starting to be self-aware mainly of our own unconscious bias and prejudice (and who doesn’t have them) understanding that they are natural to have, and to be aware not to take them to the next level.

2- We need to remember that perceptions are realities for some people that cultures are like lenses through which we see the world so we need to remember that others have their own lenses too through which they see their world. Expecting others to act and behave the way we act and behave, expecting people to meet us at our end is insane.

3- We need to have the self-discipline to either change our attitudes or become open minded or seek help from professionals like coaches.

4- Every workplace has its own organizational culture based on the vision, mission and core values created by its leaders and executives, so if empathetic respectful treatment of their employees is not a priority in their values, engraved in the terminology used in the vision and mission of the organization, or is not a part of managers’ performance evaluation upon which they get promoted or getting bonuses, then there will be no incentive for managers to change their attitudes.

That means that it rolls from the top down, as any other important initiative it needs to be promoted, lived, committed to, and exemplified by top executive and leaders

Only when managers feel that there are consequences to their behavior towards their employees, will start see the value of their own personal development in interpersonal soft skills to learn behaviors that encourage empathy and communicate respect to the employees.

Next week is the third and last part of the article.
Let OUR differences make a difference in the world
Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

Leadership starts with Empathy

Leadership and empathy How many times in the middle of a conversation you thought: Gosh! I wished they could see my side, or feel the way I feel?

Or on the other spectrum have you ever felt that you needed to change the way you respond emotionally to others because your performance evaluation called for better communication and interpersonal skills

Either, or the solution believe it or not, is simple, maybe not that simple for everyone but let us put it that way it is attainable with a will to personally grow and to better build relationships with others that are different than we are, diverse from who we are, and feel or believe different values than we do.

The solution is actually called “Empathy” which means the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another; in simple English it means putting yourself or walking few steps in someone else shoes to understand where they are coming from or why they are acting/ thinking the way they do, before we let our unconscious bias and prejudice settle in and judge them based on our beliefs and values.

When I was younger and single I used to say I rather have someone in my life that gets me, is kind to me, and truly cares about me than loving me; I never realized that what I was saying is that I wanted someone that is empathetic about who I am and how I feel.

I am HUGE on empathy, I feel it is such a simple process, it is going back to basics of being a human being, it is simply recognizing emotions in others, granting them the right to be who they are, and it can be the solution to so many issues in our society like bullying, discrimination and stereotyping; it is sad that we do not embrace it more in our daily lives. Empathy is not a kumbaya song and is not a touchy feely emotion, it is an ability that originates from the heart and not the mind, it is a willingness to be kind and to care about others and not start with WIIIFM (what is in it for me)

Empathy is at the core of who we are as Human beings, though it has been an ignored emotion in our daily tumultuous world, the world is full of other people, and we can’t escape their influence on our life. It’s far better to accept this, and to decide to build relationships and understanding, rather than try to stand alone all of the time. The good news is that it is a learned ability or a re-learned ability where we can reform ourselves for it.

Empathy starts since a very early age, actually since we are born, so we see in one year old infants, they get anguish if they see their mother or their caretaker crying or hurt and they manifest their empathy by sucking their thumbs or crying themselves; later on when they see another child crying in kindergarten they try to offer their toy to soothe their pain.

To be empathic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Once you see beyond your own world, you’ll realize that there’s so much to discover and appreciate!

Empathy is at the basic principles of Emotional Intelligence (which we will discuss in future posts), recent studies have shown that Emotional Intelligence is a requisite in great leadership, leaders that have emotional intelligence have better influencing skills and have followers believing in them.

In the workplace, managers are valued more for their people skills than their technical knowledge as per the Washington Business Journal, I have seen it many times, hardworking managers that have a lot of experience not moving up or barely advancing in their careers as they lack bedside manners or people skills. Emotional Intelligence and mainly empathy is getting in touch with one’s emotions and managing them when interacting with others for better managerial effectiveness.

This is a long post, I am posting it in three parts, so till next time!

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

Workplace Diversity: What is Unconscious Bias & How to manage it? Part 2

In the first part of this post we visited the meaning of Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias Why should we care about Bias in the workplace?

If decision makers (managers, supervisors, directors, project managers or executives) have Bias they can either promote someone with no merit (positive bias) or hold someone back as by not considering for a promotion (A mother because the promotion involves a lot of traveling); or not hiring a very qualified person (Not hiring pregnant females, or assuming that some physically challenged people can’t handle the job). Bias unconsciously can evolve to stereotyping which can lead to discrimination which in turn can lead to law suits losing not only a lot of money but losing the organization’s reputation with future inability to attract, recruit and retain qualified diverse employees.

We tend to prefer hanging out or working with people that look like us, feel like us, talk like us and have values and beliefs like us; even when we are asked for resources or referrals we still gravitate towards people like us because we know what to expect so it is comfortable and safe. We are more tempted to rapidly judge others or criticize them if they do not fall within the lines we have set for ourselves or within the values and beliefs we grew up cherishing.

If we step out of that comfort zone as anything else, we panic as we step into unknown territory, and we find it difficult to relate to others that are different; and we tend to shy away out of fear or lack of understanding

Solutions

We all have bias and prejudice and discussing them is risky as it is easily misunderstood or mistaken for racism.

1- Self-Awareness:

– Take the implicit association test by Harvard– you will be surprised I promise you.

– It starts by knowing who we are and what is our culture as well as what values and beliefs do we carry within ourselves

– Recognize that it is normal for human beings to have unconscious preferences and biases that influences their decisions

– Identify our own unconscious bias

– Form a habit to notice the first thoughts that come to your mind when you meet someone that is different; we have the power to watch them when they first pop in our brains to deal with them

2- Understand that our Bias reactions most of the time are not towards the person in front of us but are actually a reaction to a gut feeling, or a reaction to an old impression or an old memory that we acquired either through our parents, through the Media or even seen a movie that had similar characters.

3- It takes a willingness to have an open mind not being defensive and have the courage not only to admit that we have bias but to work on correcting them

4- Use the power of Neurogenesis: Which is creating new mental paths for our brains to process information in areas that do not play to our individual or organizational strengths. As any change it is not easy, but with perseverance, will, openness to accepting different things and people, and commitment either from the person or from the organization it can happen.

5- Find common ground: As human beings we will always have something in common no matter how small or far-fetched it is like being dog owners, or loving rock and roll music or dancing etc…

6- Realize that our assumption of what is “acceptable” or normal may not appear or feel the same to others.

7- Educate yourself on different cultures and people, ask questions respectfully and be generous in educating others that ask for your help

8- Last but not least have compassion and empathy towards other human beings no matter how similar or different they can be

9- Accept (not tolerate) people for who they are not who you want them to be

10- Create a culture of inclusion in which we are adding more people, not subtracting anyone.

11- Leverage your Emotional Intelligence (Discussed in a future post)

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

What is Unconscious Bias, and its effect on the Workplace Diversity

First appeared on “LinkedIn Pulse

Unconscious Bias and Workplace DiversityIn the beginning of my career I was in charge of a Russian group in London attending a medical conference. We requested an English/ Russian translator. The morning of the conference a beautiful young Vietnamese young woman walked in looking for me. My Biggest surprise is when she introduced herself as our translator.

My own assumption and perception of a Russian looking translator (Whatever that means) didn’t materialize when I saw the Vietnamese translator.

I kept thinking about my reaction, I asked myself why didn’t I even visit the idea that many people speak more than three languages (I speak five). It is not till years later that I was able to put a name to my assumptions: My Unconscious Bias

So what is Bias, and why should we care about it?

First let us start by saying that most people that have bias do not do it on purpose, it is unconscious – It is a blind spot that requires a shift on how we think about other people that we perceive different. It is a belief or attitude in our heads.

Bias is the very fundamental way we look at and encounter the world to make sense of the world around us. It is driven by the hard wiring pattern of making decisions about others based on what feels safe, familiar, likeable, valuable and competent to us without us realizing it.

Bias is an inflexible positive or negative conscious or unconscious belief about a particular category of people.

Our Bias kicks in whenever we have a perception of threat to our own survival or a threat to our physical or property safety, identity or sense of being. It is an instinct reaction as primal biological urge response that brings relief to tension (Human beings developed these instincts since the Caveman era)

Bias is the ability to distinguish “safe” from “Dangerous” which is a basic quality of our human brain to categorize and group information so our brains can make sense of them.

Why does our brain do that? At any given moment we group people, and situations into categories so we can make decisions about our world. Bias is the filter or group of filters that this multitude of information sips through. We are exposed to almost 11 million pieces of information at any one time, our brain can recognize ONLY 40 of them or so, and can focus on about 5-7 at a time.

Pre-established filters – are perceptions, assumptions, interpretations or preferences that we develop throughout our life experiences developing conscious and unconscious Bias as a result.

So where do we get our initial filters or Bias: Our first point of contact right after we are born are our parents, who expose us to their beliefs, values and cultures, then family members, schools, teachers, religious institutions and our own life experiences. If any of the above exposures has a blind spot it is transferred to us and they become our own blind spots that we in turn transfer to the next generation we come in contact with.

A blind spot is our responsibility though may be not our fault but we are accountable and responsible to recognize first that we have blind spots and to shed lights on them

Acting on Bias is NEVER positive even if based on positive content as it keeps us from seeing people as individuals for example assuming that all Asians have high income and drive BMWs.

Our unconscious Bias is our blueprint ping through life, it is important to mention that it is normal that we ALL have some degree of bias no matter how open minded we think we are.
The problem with Unconscious Bias is that unconsciously we divide the world into the world of “US” and the world of “THEM” distancing others that are different from us just because they fit into a certain category or group that exist only in our minds.

This is part one (1) of this post- in part two (2), will discuss why should we care about Unconscious Bias at the workplace and how to manage it.

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

_____________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

Why Diversity training alone doesn’t work…

First appeared on “LinkedIn Pulse

Why Diversity training alone doesn't workIn my “6 advantages to diversity in the workplace” post, I listed the main reasons why there is a growing realization by managers in US companies to look at the advantages of multi-racial clientele (both internal and external):

  • There is a huge demographic shift in the US companies where more than three quarters of new employees are non-Caucasian, the shift is also reflected on a larger extent in the changing pool of customers.
  • The potential for growth of diversity, in terms of heightened collective creativity and Entrepreneurial energy

That means that US companies have an increasing needs for their employees to not only appreciate people from diverse culture (and markets), put any bias aside, but also to turn that appreciation to competitive advantage.

So, even if people bring prejudice to work with them, they must learn to act as though they have none. The reasons, over and above human decency, are sensible.

This means that the organizational cultures must change forcing not only the tolerance, but the acceptance of differences, even if individual biases remain.

I know it is easier said than done, the sad fact is that the one day of training, one video, or single weekend diversity training courses do not really seem to budge the bias of those employees that have deep prejudice against one or another, whether it be male against female, baby boomer against Millennial, African American against Hispanics, or heterosexuals against people of different sexual orientation and vice versa in all of these cases.

Actually some of the diversity courses, can cause more damage than help especially if conducted by facilitators that use blame and guilt methods in their training; some of these programs can raise false expectation by promising too much, or simply create an atmosphere of confrontation instead of understanding, generate heightened tensions that divide groups in the workplace, calling even greater attention to these differences, and creating more exclusion than inclusion where it becomes “US” vs. “THEM”. To understand what can be done, it helps to first understand the nature of prejudice itself

The roots of prejudice

Some hatred to one another as individuals, groups, ethnicities, religions or even sexual orientation are rooted in childhood memories that keep this hatred alive over the years, as each new generation is steeped in hostile biases like the one before.

The psychological price of loyalty to one’s own group can be antipathy toward another, especially when there is a long history of hostility between the groups.

Prejudices are a kind of emotional learning that occurs early in life, making these reactions especially hard to eradicate entirely, even in people who as adults feel it is wrong to hold them and consider themselves open minded people. The emotions of prejudice start in childhood while the beliefs that are used to justify them come later in life.

Even if you take a moment to try to change your prejudice, understand that it is a lot easier to change your intellectual beliefs then your deep feelings. In your mind you may no longer feel prejudice, but you can still feel woozy if you need to deal one on one with a person from that background depending on the circumstances.

The power of the stereotypes, in the mind, are that they are self-confirming. It is theunconscious bias that we all have where we are more readily to remember instances that support the stereotype while tending to discount instances that challenge it.

The danger is not only from being bias, but from the more subtle forms of bias or acting with covert bias, where a rationale other than prejudice is given to justify bias actions.

For example: A male senior manager who believes that he has no prejudices rejecting a female job applicant, allegedly not because of her gender, but because her education and experience are not quite right for the job, while hiring a male applicant with about the same background. Or it might take the form of giving better performance evaluation for an employee that went to the same Ivy school, or came from the same city, share the same political beliefs, or even share the same ethnicity than to someone else from a different background at the same level of performance.

 

Solution:

Since long-held biases cannot be so easily weeded out, the solutions lie in that:

  • Organizations need to embrace “zero tolerance for intolerance” and not only on papers as many organization do nowadays, where they have dazzling statements on their websites’ vision and mission but are not actually part of their culture.
  • Need to trickle down from the top leadership, who need not only to embrace it by breath it, live by it, and apply it.
  • Need to be part of the performance evaluations of the organizations’ executives tight in with their promotions, rewards and bonuses.

Management cannot turn a blind eye on any bias or prejudice actions, as it allows discrimination to strive. If nothing, is done the consequences is letting the cancer of prejudice spread till it kills the organization

If the climate and culture of an organization is based on the respect of individuals, valuingthem for who they are, and though bias may not budge, but acts of prejudice can be crushed and nipped at the bud

A message must be sent that acting on any racist impulses will be dealt with swiftly and severely. Raising the collective awareness that bias and/ or harassment are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Encourage people to speak out against even minimal acts of discrimination or harassment as offensive jokes, gestures, comments, or as simple as using wall calendars that are demeaning to women.

The simple act of standing for whatever is right and objecting to whatever is wrong establishes a culture where bias and discrimination are rejected. Silence condones the wrong Actions, silence is a form of violence. If you stay silent when someone is treated wrongly, it can be you next time, and you won’t find anyone to speak out for you.

One of the main keys to minimize bias and prejudice is to encourage empathy and acceptance to the degree that people come to understand the pain of those who feel discriminated against, as they put themselves in their shoes.

In summary, it is more practical to try to suppress the expression of bias rather than trying to eliminate the attitude itself; stereotypes change very slowly, if at all. What can make a difference, is sustained team building towards a common goal, highlighting the similarities that we have as human beings rather than the differences, looking at each other as equal peers, increasing solidarity between the teams is maximizing the excellence of a team’s work to work in harmony rather than disarray lets them take advantage of the full talent of every team member. Looking at people as people and not put them in a box (She is women, He is Hispanic, she is too young, he is physically challenged, she is gay) – just deal with people as people, as human beings.

To stop battling prejudice in the workplace is to miss great opportunities that modern organizations can’t afford: Taking advantage of the creative and entrepreneurial possibilities that a diverse workforce can offer, operating in harmony, is likely to come to better, more creative, and more effective solutions than those same people working in isolation. It is time to start uncomfortable conversations to get comfortable and accepting over time.

“Let our differences make a difference in the world”

Connect with me on:

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

How Diversity, Inclusion, and Acceptance relate?

Diversity, Inclusion, AcceptanceDuring my years of Diversity & Inclusion training and consulting, have seen numerous organizations giving their employees a few hours training of Diversity without following up with inclusion strategies.

Just a reminder that Diversity without inclusion will call out our differences, increasing exclusion rather than inclusion. Diversity & Inclusion are two faces of the same coin. Including others is to accept them for who they are, and not who we want them to be.

It’s easy to love the people that are just like us, that look and dress like us, that is a no-brainer, and doesn’t take a lot of effort. The real challenge comes when we have to deal with people that are different than us, people we don’t agree with, or as far as we are concerned they are making poor choices, it is easy for us to size them, to put them in a box, keep them at a distance, and declare that they are not our cup of tea.

So we exclude people instead of including them, we write them off, and ignore them because they are not meeting our expectations and standards, when we should actually accept them for who they are. Diversity by definition has multiplicity and variety in its meaning, it is about adding not removing.

My personal mantra in life is “I will accept you even if I do not agree with you”, we might be on different paths of our lives at this moment, may be in a week, month, or year we might get to that point of our journey where we see eye to eye. Writing you off means that I might be losing a great friend, a positive presence in my life, or a great learning experience.

Even if I don’t agree with your lifestyle, your doctrine, friends you are choosing, I am not supposed to judge you but to accept you. We need to realize that everyone is on a journey, where they are right now is not where they are going to end up, they are unfinished product, and they are still working on themselves, exactly as we are.

We start labeling people “they are a mess, they are too liberal or too conservative, too old, too young and the list goes on”. Do not be self-righteous, take off the judgmental glasses, you or a loved one could be in the same position any time suffering from the same things you are being critical and judgmental about.

Many of people’s actions, expectations, values, and beliefs are linked to their culture, blind spots and bias are passed from parents to children. People do what they do because this is what the best they know, until you wind up in their shoes, been raised in their families, fought the battles they fought, you can’t understand why they are the way they are. We weren’t born the way we are today, we evolve through our experiences and even culture evolves through time

You can accept people for who they are, and they might still reject you, or may not respond the right away, may not seem like it is doing any good, because people’s hearts might not ready for acceptance and love at the moment, that doesn’t mean that will never be ready. It is fine, you always deal with people the way you are and not as the way they are. The more you plant the seeds of love, the more chances these seeds will grow one day, when the right season comes around. Hate leads to more hate, exclusion and discrimination give birth to anger, frustration and sometimes violence. MLK said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

We feel sometimes we need to convict people, tell them all the things they are doing wrong, all the things they are guilty of, we forget that negative leads negative, we forget that we are not here to judge, we do not need to straighten anybody out, “love and acceptance never fail”, when we value people they give us value back; when we are merciful, kind, understanding, and accepting we can never know whose heart we will touch, whose life we will change.

Human beings have a tendency to look at what they do not have rather than what they have, they look at the differences rather than similarities, and they talk about what they do not stand for instead of sharing what is it that they stand for.

I rather leave a legacy for what I stood for: Accepting and loving people for who they are, forgiving people, and giving second chances, the courtesy I would like to be extended by people to me.

So I do accept you for who you are: Black or white; Hispanic or Middle Eastern; Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist; Gay, transgender or straight; able or disable; old or young; right wing or left wing- in other words, it doesn’t matter to me, even if you draw a box to keep me out, I will draw a bigger box to include us both.

Just think about this world if we loved and accepted each other without expectations and without judgments, so what if others are not your Siamese twin, they are not supposed to be, even if they do not share your principles, values, beliefs and views- we are all human beings looking for the same basics: Love, family, happiness, security and belonging. No matter how different we might look externally or mentally we will always have something in common no matter how small it is. Living things respond to kindness.

Who is to say who is right and who is wrong, in whose book? The only fact that remains is that no one is perfect (not even me), so do not have tunnel vision, do not draw that line in the sand, do not exclude everyone that doesn’t fit your standards, do not focus on the differences and what separates us.

We are different to someone else, we all have accents to someone else, we do not have to see eye to eye so we can accept each other, variety is the essence of life, what matters is the condition of our heart and soul.

So, be the reason, be the tool, be the hand that plants the seed of kindness in other people’s heart, you don’t need to tell them what they’re doing wrong, be that helping accepting hand, acceptance pulls people in.

Remember at one time or another, someone helped you, accepted you for who you are, was kind to you, forgave you – return the favor show the same love and mercy

Before you judge someone get to know them, before you dismiss them listen to their story, there is usually a good reason why people are the way they are, we got to give them room to the process of changing, we don’t help them by judging them, it’s not about meritocracy it is about acceptance.

Give the benefit of the doubt, too often we would judge what we don’t understand, we judge what we fear so we give ourselves a reason why we shouldn’t accept the differences, we do not like change, and we do not like to get out of our comfort zone.

Do not judge someone after a glance, or by their appearance, how many times we look at someone and decide in a split second if we like them or not. Ask yourself would you like or appreciate been treated that way? Acceptance is NOT Tolerance– when you tolerate something you just put up with it, acceptance is different, accepting others is a celebration of who they are, is saying I am no better than you

When you accept others, you bring joy and happiness to your heart, your life will have meaningful relationships either personally or professionally

He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Let our differences make a difference in the world”

Connect with me on:

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

Leadership From a Global to a Cross-Cultural Perspective

Global vs. Cross-Cultural Leadership

Many people are still confusing cross-cultural and trans-global leadership including some diversity experts.  They mix between both as if they were one and the same.  I beg to differ.  While both sound like sharing the same definition, in actuality there is a difference between both.

Nowadays in order to succeed as a leader, as a business, and as an organization the need for cross-cultural and trans-global competencies is crucial.

In the age of the internet, the new political and economic reforms like the falling of the Berlin wall, the disintegration of the USSR, NAFTA, ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, EU as well as the emerging BRIC countries like (Brazil, Russia, India, and China ) as well as well as the MIKT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey); it becomes clear and evident that organizations’ leaders need to build not only trans-global competence but also cross-cultural competence, awareness and flexibility to have the ability and capability to survive and thrive in the new reality of the flat world we live in.

According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s 14th Annual Global CEO Survey (2011) found that ‘‘bridging the global skills gap’’ was one of the top concerns cited for the future, especially for organizations that are looking to attract, recruit, develop, and retain talents  globally.

Confusion, frustration and costly mistakes are the results of lack of global skills mainly due to the ignorance about the impact of cultures on the workplace (we will discuss cultures here below). The old mentality of “We have always done it that way” leads to expensive failures, same with the idea of “Color blindness” (though could be coming from a good place) is actually detrimental to the workplace because there is an erroneous belief that paying attention to color or race is fundamentally discriminative.

“To ignore cultural differences is unproductive… Choosing not to see cultural diversity limits our ability to manage it – that is, to minimize the problems it causes while maximizing the advantages it allows… When we blind ourselves to cultural diversity, foreigners become mere projections of ourselves.” (Adler, 1991, pp. 97)

The most important facets of trans-global leadership are the following three main competencies:

  1. Being Culturally flexible: Basically to roll with the punches realizing that there are differences in other countries, populations, and cultures that are not wrong or weird, just different
  2. Value Cultural differences and Minimize Ethnocentricity (My culture is better than yours theory)
  3. Tolerance of ambiguity (Which is part of Geert Hofstede four main components of Cultural insights)

Now what about the cross-cultural leaders; how and why they are different from the trans-global leaders?

Though both leaders must have the trans-global competencies mentioned above, there is a lot more to add for the cross-cultural leaders.

There is still a misguided assumption that Culture pertains only to race, color, religion, and ethnicity: meaning that there is still a lot of confusion between Diversity and Affirmative Action or even Protected groups.

Diversity are the unique characteristics that makes each one of us as a human being, Culture is the lens that we see the world through and it contains our beliefs, values, assumptions and behaviors, the way we communicate, negotiate, take a decision, behave socially, even the way we feel.

That lens is first imposed on us by our parents our first contact in life, then schools, friends, religious institutions, society etc… so it is an ever changing phenomena.

It is important to note that there are individual cultures within the group cultures.  That being said when we say cultural competence: It means all of that covers the global competence (not limited to) as:

  • Color
  • Country
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Political status
  • Family structure

Furthermore it includes (not limited to):

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Disabilities (Both visible and invisible)
  • Parental status
  • Marital status
  • Military status
  • Veteran status
  • Job classification (Blue or White collar)
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Education
  • Geographical location
  • Even Diversity of thoughts

Why should we care about cultural competence in the workplace?

  • One million legal immigrants enter the United States Annually
  • The minorities are soon to be majorities (Hispanics 3 to 1, the Asian American and African American communities are increasing as well, more communities emerged in the latest Census report as Armenians, Middle Easterns etc…)
  • Women are becoming a workforce to reckon with – very soon the workforce will be 50/50 males to females.  Women are reaching high leadership positions that is totally different from the male leadership style
  • Due to the civil rights and the change of laws, the LGBT community is thriving and constitutes a huge buying power and part of the society that can no longer be ignored
  • Due to the changes in the ADA (American Disability Act) laws: Now workplaces have to deal with disabilities both visible (Physical) as well as invisible (emotional and other) in a different way to accommodate the disabilities with reasonable accommodation without a hardship on the organizations
  • For the first time in US History four generations are at work with different cultures, communication and working styles due to the ADEA (Age Discrimination Employment Act) that protect employees older than 40 years.  Also due to new scientific research people are living longer and enjoying their lives in a healthier way, also the economic events of the last few years forced some employees to continue working due ti the loss of their retirement or 401K.

These are only few reasons why we should get serious about enforcing (yes enforcing) cultural competence and developing cross-cultural leaders that can bridge the gap between the different cultures

In short trans-global leadership deals mostly with International and cross the border issues including expats, and Cross-Cultural leaderships deals with different employees both nationally and internationally.

I am very passionate about Diversity, and cultures that is why I meant to clarify the difference between global and cross-cultural leadership at least in my book.

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Social Media Strategist
Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G. Programs
Diversity And Inclusion for Leadership Organizational Growth”
T: 818 861 9434 

Sahar Consulting, LLC
www.saharconsulting.com

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