May 06

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Lead a multicultural team effectively

Diversity is the name of the game in today’s workforce. Your management style must match your employees’ multicultural differences if you want to excel.

It isn’t easy to be a politically correct, multicultural leader who is respected by all of her employees — despite employees’ unique individual perspectives. Fortunately, Juana Bordas, author of Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, has some helpful advice:

  • Learn about the underlying history. You know what they say — knowledge is power. Before you can truly guide employees with various backgrounds, you should take time to learn about their history. It’s also important to acknowledge how today’s mainstream leadership can be Eurocentric, and what circumstances have lead to the repression of minority communities, emphasizes Bordas.
  • Gain a community perspective. Many corporations are individually competitive, and in many ways this may be counterproductive because it reduces teamwork and collaboration. Also, minority employees who come from cultures that foster unity and collectivity may not understand the often cutthroat, Machiavellian atmosphere. Taking a more team-oriented approach to management can make minority employees feel more comfortable — and reduce some of the drawbacks of workplace competition.
  • Nix the hierarchy. Executives today are normally associated with large bonuses, perks and incentives. But a culturally sensitive manager should take a different approach, says Bordas. Instead, eliminate the elitism that tends to come from corporate hierarchy. Put away the “you’re the boss” mentality and view yourself as just another part of the team. Recognize that your success is partly due to the talent and initiative of your employees, she recommends.
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