The 21st century brings a lot of opportunities and at the same time a lot of challenges for cross-cultural cooperation. Leaders and team members are physically located in Berlin or Budapest and their voices and words circulate around the world, cooperating with colleagues in South Africa or Sweden. A day starts with a virtual meeting where team members from several cultures meet together to talk about their projects, and continues with individual online talks to tackle issues in India, USA and Germany.
Cross-cultural Communication And Cooperation With Many Cultures
A culture-specific training is simply not enough. To be able to compete, show respect, meet customers’ wishes and win, the development of cultural agility is a must.
Why is cultural agility a driving engine of companies’ success and effective cross-cultural cooperation these days?
- Culturally agile leaders and team members are able to adapt their approaches and procedures to respect cultural values and thinking styles of colleagues from different cultures.
- Cultural agility supports global leaders and virtual teams to make appropriate decisions and accurately read and respond within the framework of a current cultural context behind virtual meetings.
- Culturally agile leaders are able to connect with customers from different cultures, employing their agile mindset to communicate appropriately, build trust and deliver products respecting local rules and norms.
How can you develop cultural agility of leaders, scrum teams and virtual teams?
- Working on self-awareness.
Being aware of one’s own culture, cultural norms and biases opens a door to understanding other cultures and their specific norms and behaviors.
- Staying authentic and humble.
Understanding one’s own comfort zone and strategies, how to leave it while staying authentic, helps global leaders to build bridges with other cultures and colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. Many top leaders have a rich repertoire of successful strategies which worked at some point during cross-cultural negotiations or worked across cultures in the past. However, being humble empowers to develop new great tools, perfectly tuned to a new situation and its specialties.
- Being open-minded and sensitive to different business and cultural environments.
Every virtual or face-to-face meeting generates new cultural challenges and possible cultural ambiguities. Nobody should rely just on the previous knowledge or experience. Flexibility and efforts to understand should be turned on to eliminate unconscious biases.
- Setting on a never-ending journey.
There is no point to stop and say: “Yes. My cultural agility development is finished”. Working on one’s own cultural agility should be viewed as a never-ending opportunity to observe challenges of everyday cross-cultural cooperation and moving forward on our life journey.
Cultural agility influences companies’ successes on global and local markets where they are represented by their leaders and employees. However, one of the main contributions behind culturally agile behaving teams and leaders is their happiness and mutual understanding working together on common projects and delivering solutions to their customers.