In our leadership development work with international clients over the past decade, we have increasingly found ourselves faced with the question: “Is one dominant leadership model enough in today’s global work environment?” Our work has always been global in scope and we have made it a priority to design programs and development approaches suited to multicultural audiences, and to be culturally competent ourselves.
As the very nature of the terms “global” and “globalization” evolve and we find ourselves working with increasingly diverse groups, we have recently felt the need to dig deeper and examine more closely the values, attributes and practices of leadership viewed from multiple cultural perspectives. Increasingly, there is a view that western leadership theory and practice predominate, which at a minimum does not adequately represent or expand the richness of leadership wisdom that exists and is practiced in many parts of the world.While there are a number of emerging models of global leadership, we believe that there is one dimension which is key yet relatively unaddressed in terms of practical guidance for today’s managers.
It relates to what can be learned from understanding and appreciating the ways in which culture influences leadership effectiveness, as well as the nuances of the various leadership styles found throughout the world. Currently, there is not a significant body of research available about the specific implications and relative effectiveness of these different leadership styles. In this paper we offer some of our thoughts on Multicultural Leadership and why we believe it is particularly important now to explore some new thinking and ideas that will advance leadership development initiatives.