This paper answers three questions on the topic of leadership: why it is important for today’s leaders to develop cultural intelligence; how a leader’s role and responsibilities might change as a company becomes more diverse; and which types of power one might rely on to implement an important decision quickly.
1. Why is it important for today’s leaders to develop cultural intelligence? Do you think a leader who has never had experience with people different from him or herself can develop the ability to smoothly adapt to culturally different ways of thinking and behaving? Discuss.
It is particularly important for today’s leaders to develop cultural intelligence because of the global nature of modern society. The increasingly global international nature of business and communication, facilitated by the increasing use of communications technologies such as social media and smart devices, mean that it is increasingly likely that leaders in all professional situations will find themselves dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, it is important to understand that the prevalence of global culture and communication technology has not eradicated the vast differences between different cultures. These differences can range from the ways in which time is understood and the value placed on professional relationships, to differing viewpoints on intellectual property. Without an understanding of these fundamental differences, leaders run the risk of participating in or even worsening situations of poor communication and will struggle to integrate team members effectively. However, a leader with little experience of cultures alien to him or herself can easily develop the ability to adapt smoothly, through carefully researching those cultures with which he or she comes into contact regularly, and preparing in advance for the types of cultural difference that might be encountered in the relevant situations.
2. How might a leader’s role and responsibilities change as a company becomes more diverse? Explain.
As a company becomes more diverse, the leader’s role and responsibilities should develop to include the integration of different and diverse viewpoints, needs, and approaches into a seamless whole for the team which he or she leads. This might include a number of new aspects to the role of leadership, such as organizing education for team members to encourage a positive approach to diversity, facilitating positive communication where diversity might make that an issue, and promoting equality in all aspects of the team. Most importantly, the leader’s role when it comes to diversity is to lead by example: this is, of course, the case even where diversity is not an issue for a company, but because diversity often carries with it the possibility of conflict, miscommunication, and disagreement, the responsibility of the leader to provide a role model for positive communication and a sense of unity is paramount. The role of the leader, therefore, does not change in content but rather in scope, becoming more complex as issues of diversity are introduced.
3. Which types of power would you rely on to implement an important decision quickly? Which types would you consider most valuable for sustaining power over the long term?
Although all types of power are effective in different situations, when a decision needs to be implemented quickly, either reward or coercive power are likely to be the most effective at producing fast results. This is because these types of power function by acting directly on the personal interests of team members. However, the use of coercive power is not, in my opinion, consistent with good leadership, as it is likely to foster resentment and undermine team cohesion; under these conditions, a team is unlikely to produce quality results even if it produces fast ones. Reward power, in contrast, offers motivation for quality results as well as fast results. To sustain power over the long term, however, both reward and coercive power are likely to be less effective, as continued use weakens their effect on motivation – both rewards and punishments lose their impact if experienced on a regular basis. For this reason, I feel that a combination of legitimate and expert power are more likely to sustain power in the long term, as they rely on the development of a complex and positive relationship with team members, based on both trust and experience. Such relationships take time to develop, but for that reason the results they yield are also likely t be longer lasting than the quick results of reward or coercion.