Organizations around the world are seeking ways to capitalize on the growing global market that is providing numerous opportunities. The challenge each of these organizations are finding is their ability to navigate the cultural differences they are encountering. They are finding they have low cultural agility, and it is costing them opportunities.
Cultural agility is the ability to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work in different cultures and with people from different cultures (Caliguiri, 2013). Cultural agility is not really an optional part of organizational life anymore, but has become an organizational necessity. In order to be successful in a global environment, whether in their home country or abroad, leaders and organizations need to be effective in multicultural and cross-cultural contexts (Lundby et al., 2012). Those who develop their cultural agility are able to correctly read and respond to different cultural contexts by using various approaches and integration tactics (Lundby & Caliguiri, 2013B).
Many organizational leaders should take note of how the early Christian church formed through cultural agility. Jesus set the tone with his disciples by being culturally agile, evident from moments like his conversation with the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:7-30). His disciples took their cues from Jesus and obeyed his departing words to them, “…go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19), and spread throughout the Roman world to spread the Gospel of Christ. There were cultural skirmishes along the way, clashes of the Jewish and Gentile expectations (Acts 10 & 15 for example), but they were righted by the direction and admonition of the Holy Spirit. The Christian church has successfully grown to worldwide entity because of its ability to continuously be culturally agile.
Where does patriotic pride begin to override effective cultural agility? Can both positively exist at once?
Caligiuri, P. (2012). Cultural agility: building a pipeline of successful global professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kyle Lundby, Wayne C. Lee, & William H. Macey. (2012). Leadership Essentials to Attract, Engage, and Retain Global Human Talent. In Advances in Global Leadership (Vol. 7, pp. 251–270). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S1535-1203%282012%290000007015
(A) Lundby, K., & Caligiuri, P. (2013). Leveraging Organizational Climate to Understand Cultural Agility and Foster Effective Global Leadership. People and Strategy, 36(3), 26–30.
(B) Lundby, K. M., & Caligiuri, P. (2013, February). Cultural Agility Climate: What Organizations and Their Leaders Need to Know About Functioning Effectively in a Global Environment. Presented at the Presented at 3M Corporation’s Innovation Center, St. Paul, MN.