A person is said to have cultural agility when they have the ability to positively lead individuals from multiple cultures, meshing in and out of diverse groups with relative ease. Cultural agility can be achieved through hard work and dedication. By “combining individual skills and abilities, motivation, and experience” (Kindle Location 318) and individual can increase their ability to move between various cultures in an effective manner.
You can develop cross cultural experience in yourself and those you lead by creating cross-cultural experiences that generate teachable moments (Caligiuri, 2012). Leaders should focus on three basic things in order to help facilitate cultural agility growth. These competencies are crucial for successful cross cultural agility.
The first requires the leader to be able to control self (Caligiuri, 2012). Self-differentiation is a critical role in controlling one’s own response. Having self-differentiation means having a sense of autonomy, independence, and individuality (Friedman, 2007). Becoming emotionally involved in situations can pervert a leaders judgment and decision making skills.
Secondly, a leader must be able to connect with those of another culture (Caligiuri, 2012). Connecting to people requires a level of trust between the leader and follower. Maintaining trust is a vital part of leadership (Wright, 2010) and required in order to create and maintain a good connection with people from differing cultures.
Lastly, a leader should know how to respond within the context of the particular culture (Caligiuri, 2012). In order to achieve this, a leader must have a good feel for what is taking place and how the culture differs from their own. Making the correct decisions is a complex process made more difficult by engaging multiple cultural variables. An in-depth knowledge of all cultural variables involved is invaluable for a proper response.
Caligiuri, P. Cultural Agility: Building a Pipeline of Globally Successful Professionals. Jossey-Bass Publishing San Francisco, CA, 2012.
Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Church Publishing, Inc., 2007.
Wright, Nicholas Thomas. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. Harper Collins, 2010.