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September 05, 2010

Transcultural Leaders - Bridge Figures

There are more and more of us who have one foot in one culture, ethnic or religious roots in another, and genes or family connections...

...in yet another culture.

Many historians say that the Twentieth Century was the century of nation-states, while the 21st Century is evolving into an era of cross-cultural mergings, mixes and mash-ups.

This calls for leaders who have a sense - and a respect for - our differences. We have had a history of brutal and pointless wars because of our differences - perhaps it is time to recognize that our differences will never disappear - and perhaps, just perhaps, our differences are strengths that we all need - if only we can learn to share them.

If you are interested in this crucial approach to leadership, check out this website http://www.creating.bz/our-reading-circle/transcultural-leadership.html.

Consider the four steps of culture shock we typically pass through as we adapt to a new culture. This first reaction is emotional excitement at the newness and exoticness of it all. This is followed almost immediately by frustration, anger and depression (and homesickness!) as we encounter differences in ways things are done compared to how they are done in our own culture. In the third stage, if we stay long enough, and don't retreat into our own cultural colony, we begin to acknowledge and perhaps even appreciate real differences. The final stage is learning how to utilize our differences to collaborate and produce new results.

This final stage is the most productive and the most exciting, but it takes some tough slogging to get there. Those who have reached this final stage are cultural bridges - they see who we are, insist that we listen to each other, and direct us to use each others strong points. They know, in their genes, that we really do need each other.

We have learned in the past few years how interconnected our economy is, perhaps it is time that we recognize how we are connected in many more ways.

Mastery of a common language is essential. Speaking the same language won't make everything easy - or even possible - but without it we are truly lost.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing, constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foreign foods he can't pronounce, and riding his bicycle in foreign cities. Morf is currently a radio host (tacoma.fm) and a newspaper columnist http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/columnists/morf_morford/.

Posted by mmorf at September 5, 2010 10:41 PM

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