Organizations are reaching further and further into the corners of the world, and they are having to develop cultural agility throughout their leadership ranks. Cultural agility is an individual’s ability to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work in different cultures with people from those cultures (Caligiuri, 2013). This ability to be culturally agile is vital to being successful in a global environment (Lundby, Lee, & Macey, 2012). A vital part of becoming culturally agile for organizational leaders is the development of the virtue of humility.
Cultural humility is a highly valuable competency for global professionals to possess because to provides leaders with the ability to be teachable and learn proper ways of conduct to achieve success in a foreign culture (Caligiuri, 2013). The question arises, though: how does an organization develop humility in its global leaders?
One way to develop humility in global leaders is to invest in the development of their self-awareness. Global leaders with developed self-awareness possess the ability to empower others (George, 2015) because their level of humility positions them to be more teachable and release the need to be in control. A developed sense of self-awareness also provides the humility necessary to recognize other cultures often have better ways of doings things embedded in their cultural norms (Goerge, 2015).
Another way to develop humility in global leaders is to foster curiosity. Global leaders need to be curious about a myriad of cultures and desire to understand how they operate, but this requires humility to recognize what is valuable within different cultures (George, 2015). Developing a sense of curiosity within a leader provides the humility needed to value more than their own culture, turning their attention towards the unique strengths of the culture around them (Hartsfield, 2008).
Caligiuri, P. (2012). Cultural agility: building a pipeline of successful global professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
George, B. (2015). The New Global Leaders. People & Strategy, 38(3), 26–30.
Hartsfield, M. (2008). Leading with the Power of Community. Leadership Advance Online, (iss. 8), pp. 1–5.
Lundby, K., Lee, W. C., & Macey, W. H. (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