“Ah I know that” is the answer I am sometimes given when I ask about the issue.
They are the most dangerous, those who are in denial, who believe that “all is well ” and that “we have never had this kind of problem.”
That is where the danger lies; ignoring the issue of culture. It will not be taken into account when a crisis appears, and inappropriate solutions will be adopted.
This must be prevented; we must ensure the cultural competence of leaders.
A manager, who succeeded brilliantly in Belgium, was appointed to other markets. He applied his usual recipe: proved to be competent leader knowing what to do and implementing the right procedures. In short, the providential man appreciated in our culture.
However the German team expected an organizer, putting oil in the wheels, able to form a team of specialists who dominated the situation. In short, a good chief mechanic.
The Dutch team was expecting a consensual team leader, who listens to the whole team and makes decisions democratically. In short, a good mediator.
While the British team expected a ship captain, coordinating skills and creating consistency. In short, a charismatic leader, able to create a “winning team”.
The words “cultural incompetence” does not appear in the observation of symptoms malfunctions, poor communication, conflict, failures.
A real leader is one who feeds his team what it needs.