The TV shows I’ve “happen upon” this week have been very telling of the need for senior executives and university deans to understand the imperative for organizations and universities to embrace excellence in multicultural talent development. In a matter of days, I saw broadcasts of President Obama’s Town Hall Meeting in China and his press conference in South Korea. I saw Charlie Rose speak with the CEO of Renault about their partnership with Nissan for survival and their necessary alliance with an Indian car manufacturer to compete in that country. Everyday, every moment cross-cultural interaction is a way of life for many in our world. For the US to remain competitive, we can’t simply be competent at working across cultures, we must excel at it.
I get concerned when I engage with universities and organizations who are not living and embracing this new perspective and approach. I gather from conversations with some influential persons that they believe this globalization thing is “out there” still and that someone else is dealing with this “issue” so they needn’t be on top of it.
Simple questions I pose to executives and deans alike are, “how do you view multicultural talent development in your organization or campus? What does it mean to you? Is it at the top of your agenda? What resources are you putting against it? ”
Whether you view multicultural as American ethnic minorities (African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, Native American) or more expansively, to include non-American cultures, are you helping these various groups feel relevant , included and powerful? Are you understanding their points of view on collaboration, leadership and power? Are you evolving the senior management’s ways of doing things to embrace an expansive perspective on empowerment? Are you redefining effective leadership? Or are you still holding on to a singular model of power and leadership, that is steeped in Anglo, male culture?
The world is integrating at breakneck speed. Our sustained competitiveness will come from our ability to understand, honor and dialogue with others who approach the fundamentals of decision-making and leadership effectiveness differently from traditional US approaches. Our first step in excelling in this area is to make sure that the different people who are already within our borders, in our universities and organizations, are part of the strategic dialogue, are heard, are at the table that counts. Most importantly, is for those in the power seat to understand there is more than one right way to be effective and powerful in our new world. Be curious. Be open. Embrace this new world.