Chapter Thirteen. Best Practices in Leading Diverse Organizations

Lynn R. OffermannKenneth Matos

Aquick look around most large organizations today is enough to illustrate how diversity in cultural, racial, educational, and other backgrounds is increasing in organizations across the country. Not only is the diversity of the American workforce better reflected at all levels in U.S. organizations, but as globalization and technology advance, the ability and need to act frequently on an international stage increases as well. For leaders, this diversity presents a new challenge to their capabilities, in that they are now charged with developing effective work relationships with people from different backgrounds, many of whom bring orientations and expectations toward leadership that may be quite different from those of their leaders.

Unfortunately, leaders have generally not been trained to deal with this kind of broad diversity. Many U.S. organizations still put more emphasis on acquiring a diverse staff than they do on assisting leaders in working with these diverse followers once on board. Yet we maintain that it is the leadership of diversity that most promises net business rewards as well as the sought-after retention of diverse staff. Current business needs call for the development of culturally intelligent leadership— leaders who are able to transcend their own cultural programming to function effectively in interactions with staff who differ from them in terms of gender, race, ...

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