Chapter 10 is a discussion of Leadership from the perspective of how cultural, racial, and gender issues affectCultural-Diversity.jpg
leadership. With our country being the leader of an ever growing world economy, the authors maintain that managing diversity is the “core” of modern organizational leadership. They also state that managing diversity means taking advantage of the benefits of a diverse labor force while coping with the problems that arise when people from different backgrounds work together (Hackman & Johnson, 2004). The goal of leadership is to enable all employees to achieve their full potential and to contribute to organizational goals regardless of ethnicity, gender, age or physical ability.

One of the first steps to understanding how to lead in a culturally diverse setting is to have a basic understanding of how different cultures can be classifies. First, some cultures are high-context while others are low. In high context cultures (Japan, China) most of the information of a message is contained in the context, while low context cultures (Germany, Great Britain) the meaning of a message in more direct and embedded in the words. The power distance of a culture speaks to the level of which people are comfortable with differences in power, status and wealth. High power distance signals an understanding that these differences are normal while low power distance cultures are uncomfortable with these differences. Two other factors which can distinguish cultures are the degree of individualism or collectivism they show and the level of masculinity or feminism which is present among the people. Another value that separates cultures is the degree to which people will avoid uncertainty, for some cultures uncertainty is a fact of life to be embraced while others view it as a threat and avoid it with strict adherence to many rules and regulations. The last dimension in which cultures can vary greatly is long term or short term orientation. Long term oriented cultures put emphasis on future rewards while short term cultures embrace the past and present.

Diversity_Awards_Wanda_and_Sarah,_cropped_halfsize.jpgCreating cultural synergy or the production of an end product that is greater than the sum of the parts is the ultimate goal when leading in culturally variant situations. Of the many benefits of fostering diversity are cost savings, better resource acquisition and utilization, keeping and gaining market share, better decision making and greater innovation. As might be expected, prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping are obvious roadblocks to diversity. But on a larger level, ethnocentrism – the belief that one’s own culture is the standard in which to judge all other cultures can be equally damaging when attempting to build diversity. Promoting diversity starts with having accountability at the top of an organization. It continues with having internal advocacy groups, cultural diversity motivated administrative practices and diversity training programs. Recruitment of non-traditional group members is also important.

The last important topic of the chapter discussed the gender leadership gap. This gap while closing over the last century is still very wide, with fewer women being involved in leadership positions for every step up you make in the leadership hierarchy. Studies of actual leadership situations show very few differences in leadership effectiveness exist between men and women. However it is also suggested that gender roles do create differences in leadership style with women showing more feminine traits like concern for relationships while men are more results and bottom line driven. This difference could be explained by the differences in which boys and girls are socialized as they are growing up, with boys being pushed to be self promoters and while girls are encouraged to be more accepting. Whatever the cause committing to effective mentorship of women is one way in which the gap can be closed.

To explore information concerning Ethical Leadership and Followership see Chapter 11.
Further information concerning Leadership Development can be obtained in Chapter 12.