In todays global economy it is good business sense for services, businesses and organizations to be reflective of the customers they serve. More than ever, strong managers and leaders are required to have a comprehensive set of skills that allows them to be adept at managing a vast array of people with multiple differences. This can be both challenging and rewarding for the successful Manager, providing multiple opportunities to learn and grow.

Here are 5 key reflective questions that managers can use to review their leadership effectiveness in working with cultural diversity.

#1 Self-Awareness – I Am A Reflective Leader Who Cultivates Self-Awareness

Good managers well-versed in cultural diversity are aware of their strengths, weakness and cultural biases. They ask questions of themselves:

What does being a culturally diverse manager mean?
How do my own background, values and perspective influence who I am and how I want to be as a manager?
“It’s so important to be invested in your own growth and learning,” says Riva Macneil, a Manager of Information and Referral Services in the Greater Toronto area. “There are so
many ways to hone your skills: mentoring, coaching online education; ongoing learning is vital for any leader who wants to embrace diversity and be effective in their organizational roles.”

#2 Acknowledging Difference – I Value Diversity and I Am Comfortable With Difference

Rather than adapting an “I don’t see colour” mindset, good leaders acknowledge the differences that are a part of their team and make every effort to leverage them. These leaders excel because they are willing to learn about the people that they work with. They value diversity, they are comfortable with it, and are able to translate this regard to their team.
“I am mindful of ethnic jokes and stereotypical comments” says Kulbant Khan, manager of a diverse social support team in Toronto. “I address this individually with the person involved as well as within the team. When insensitive comments, even if said playfully, are not addressed they can create underlying contention that can get in the way of cooperative productivity. It is important to set the tone.”

# 3 Effective Communications – I Communicate Clearly Across All Platforms. My Team Understands Their Work, Their Roles, As Well As The Company’s Values, Policies And Expectations.

Leaders that excel in this area take the time to listen to ensure that their communication is understood, they are also open to learning about the ways in which culture affects communication and are willing to adapt their own communication style for the greater good as a way of advancing productivity.

Mary worked for a UK company, established in Toronto, that primarily communicated through SKYPE and emails. Mary’s communication style was clear and assertive, which ensured that tasks were completed efficiently.

Nevertheless, her UK counterparts complained that her direct manner was brash
and abrasive. Reflecting on her role, Mary realized that subtle cultural differences were getting in the way of the successful exchange of information. Mary adjusted her communication style and chit-chat with her UK colleagues, who tended to be more “folksy” and polite. It became important to develop rapport before delving into the work.

Mary quickly developed an understanding of the subtle influence of culture on communication patterns.

#4 Power Dynamics – I Have A General Understanding Of How Power Dynamics Can Play Out In An Organizational Environment.

Power issues do exist – ask a minority person who has a position of power, or a woman who leads a team of men; old historical stereotypes can come into play in the work environment. Managers that have a good understanding of hierarchy and power within the organizational setting create safe environments for their staff as they know that this will determine the type of feedback they get from the people they manage.

Good managers take the time to connect and know their employees. According to Ron Kociliek, a retired sales manager: “You have to get into the trenches with your team. Those lunch time chit-chats and walkabouts are what keep you in the loop; they build trust, rapport and connection. You need that to keep on top of the vital information that you need to know.”

It is critical for a leader to understand how power dynamics, such as oppression and discrimination, might manifest within their teams. Good managers are vigilant and aware; they are not afraid to address these issues, both privately one-on-one and within the larger team. These managers are comfortable using policy and procedures, and will call on their Human Resources Departments to help to manage these issues.

# 5 Solution Focused Leadership – I Have A Solution Focused Mindset

Solution Focused Leaders are adaptable and creative; they strive to develop flexible, neutral methods that allow them to work with peoples commonalities seeking solutions rather than focusing on cause and problems.

Allen Matthews, an Engagement Manager with a large international IT company, says the following: “Diversity is strength. It is a company’s biggest asset rather than a liability.
A leader who brings this attitude to the team will have more positive results; leaders who struggle with the concept of diversity will struggle to manage staff differences and varying experiences successfully.”

Managers and leaders that strive to be open, non-judgmental and inclusive, who take the time to reflect and learn, are the ones most likely to develop the comprehensive skills
and practices needed to become effective leaders within the multicultural work environment.

Use these reflective questions as a stepping stone to enhance your management style working with issues of diversity.

Author's Bio: 

As a certified Life-Relationship Coach working with large and small organizations, Veronica’s expertise includes public speaking presentations, key note addresses, seminars and workshops and 1-1 coaching in the following areas: health, wellness, stress management, self esteem building, relationship building, empowerment strategies, personal motivation and growth.