“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.”
Due to the globalisation of economy, the development of migration and expatriation phenomena, a precise understanding of intercultural mechanisms has become essential for the organisations.
What exactly the word “intercultural” means?
According to Michel Sauquet, writer, consultant and author of the book “The intercultural intelligence” (Edition Charles Léopold Mayer), the very concept of intercultural lies in the prefix “inter” which implies a relationship between different cultures and not a simple coexistence amongst them.
Claude Lévi-Strauss, a French anthropologist and ethnologist, said that «the most important is not to open others to reason, but to open yourself to the reason of others».
Be open to each other and dare to question yourself
In an organisation, opening up to interculturality can be a great source of value but requires constant effort to review corporate practices and management methods.
Coordinate work between people from different cultures? Facilitate interactions and instil the cooperation that is essential to smooth running of a business? Understand and decode weak signals related to cultural disparities? Build a common culture that goes beyond cultural differences?
Achieving all these goals requires a clear commitment to challenge the existing organisation and a strong strategy able to be a bridge among different cultures and support managers and staff when it comes to manage interculturality.
Embracing interculturality as a performance lever
Accepting to see interculturality as a source of value and not a source of problems means taking a chance to make diversity and multiple profiles grow together and choose to build on cohesion and team spirit in the interest of the organisation as a whole. To succeed in doing this, a clear vision at the highest level of the organisation is needed together with a plan to cascade it down so that it is shared and embodied at all levels.
In this perspective, local managers have a key role in fostering an inclusive culture on the field, acting consistently so that differences become a source of value thanks to new ideas and a multiplicity of visions to go the extra mile together.
Smart-working, which has been accelerated in recent times due to the pandemic crisis, could turn out to be a real opportunity for interculturality. Actually, this new working configuration reduces geographical distances and strengthens proximity among people, even if virtual. This should ultimately facilitate the adaptation of all individuals and establish a common culture based on respect of differences and the contribution of each one.
Challenges of intercultural coaching
Intercultural coaching is important for leaders and managers to help them develop their listening skills and attention to these dynamics, to encourage an open and judgement free mindset and stimulate the capacity to look at reality under different angles providing a clear reading grid of interculturality to make the most of it for both the organisation and the employees.
And what about you? How is interculturality a challenge for you or your organisation ?
Have you ever wished to improve your approach on this topic?
Shall we talk about this together?
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