Herb Stevenson
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Cross Cultural Awareness

by Herb Stevenson

The Changing Environment

As reported in the New York Times on August 12, 2005, “the nation as a whole is moving in the direction... where members of racial and ethnic minorities account for more than half the population.” Whereas states like Texas and California already meet this status, it is estimated by the U. S. Census Bureau that the entire country will attain this population mix by 2050. Whom we are as a country is changing and preparing for it is not an option; it is a requirement of executive success.

A Look Back

Robert Halyes and Armida Russell noted in the Diversity Directive, “whether the topic was demographic changes, cultural sensitivity at work, or valuing differences among one’s colleagues, 1985-95 was a time to jump on the diversity bandwagon... [Business] saw with fresh eyes that the ways people differ leads to either crisis or opportunity: Crisis comes when differences cause conflict and block synergy. Opportunity abounds when differences are combined to create synergy.” In the broader perspective of global leadership, nary an executive will escape from the prerequisite of a deeper understanding and commitment to how differences in culture, values, ethics, ethnicity, expectations and motivations are to be valued. In the past, it was recognized that diversity consists of visible and nonvisible differences that include factors such as sex, age, background, race, physical challenges, personality and work style. Today, diversity is moving towards the background as industry recognizes that embracing the differences is to utilize the full scope of resources that are brought into the organization from a global or world economy. Anyone holding on to age-old biases will find that performance will lack and they will no longer be employed on the cutting edge.

Why Cross Cultural Coaching Supports
Executive Success

Cross Cultural awareness increases the effectiveness of individuals and therefore the organization. Stretched to the limit in terms of using what is known and has worked in the past, the executive finds him or her self unable to meet the growing demands of social responsibility becoming strategic initiatives. Cross Cultural awareness creates an up close and personal learning container that supports the individual to expand the possibilities to meet the daily challenges.

Cross Cultural Awareness—Details

Cross Cultural awareness supports CEOs and senior executives to explore their learning edge by examining both their cutting edge in business success and their flat-side surrounding cultural competence, inclusivity, and diversity management.

Building from “What is”

Cross Cultural awareness supports the client by bridging the gap that can create extended competence. Bridging the gap focuses on what is missing in the present level of cross-cultural competence and diversity management. It builds on existing competencies by using them as pillars to discover new competencies; often, competencies required by recent position changes within the organization, the environment, and/or the recent future. Creating extended competence is forward thinking. It may be known that present cross-cultural competency and diversity management is more than adequate, but future positions or dreams require a larger skill base or an expanded mind-set or simply a greater self awareness in order to be effective for future challenges. Both approaches focus on expanding the capacity of the diversity and the organization.

Creating Baselines

Cross Cultural awareness supports the executive to develop a baseline for “what is” and explore the gut feeling, recent changes, and/or nagging inclination that glaringly dictates that something must change. It is in the unexplored twists and turns of cultural competency, racial identity theory, diversity management, and the more recent focus on inclusivity that the future is created, and it is the exploration itself of what has never been that enables something new to emerge.

Time to See

Cross Cultural awareness supports the recent studies that have revealed that the most successful executives repeatedly take the time to know thy self and therefore to know thy organization. Again, it is in the exploration, the gestation process, that cultural competence and diversity management emerges. Our program supports the executive by creating a container from which to develop cultural competence and to explore cross cultural competencies.

Allowing to Emerge

Cross Cultural awareness requires time to digest instead of the usual gulp and run. Digestion takes time and is critical to gain the value of the process. Cultural competence cannot be taught and enacted, it must be embodied—you must live it. Feeling the pressure, the inner tension to take action, any action, can lead to old habitual responses and away from the desire goal of cultural competence and the eventual capacity to manage diversity.

Listening to See

Cross Cultural awareness tends to be highly focused and requires a major personal and professional commitment from the client. It is not for the hardheaded or feint-hearted or white-knuckled as the process may reveal the tarnish under the glimmer of many past personal, professional, and/or organizational successes. It is the ability to examine the tarnish and discover new ways of being that leads to the profound changes resulting from becoming a Cross Cultural awareness. The process ranges from six to twenty-four months depending on the desire and depth the client seeks. The frequency of meeting is determined by the exigency of the moment.

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