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… WHAT? …

Cultural identity is both complex and complicated. Connerly and Pederson suggest that the road to understanding cultural identity includes bumps, hills, and roadsigns such as Wrongway and Yield that make the journey to understanding and developing knowledge, skills, ability, and attitudes about cultures hard to maneuver. In identifying a personal cultural identity and being able to understand and celebrate others’ cultural identity, the process requires an awareness of both multiculturalism and its influence on behavior, thinking, and context. It also requires self-appreciation and being able to insert one’s self into the larger context of an organization, community, and even the world.

I can’t understand how those who call themselves well-versed in leadership (and skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and mediation) and leading others do not engage in a continual process of growth and development in understanding others—understanding their behavior, backgrounds, demographic attributes, and the historical and societal faultlines and triggers that can impede communication and teamwork. The very definition of leadership, the process of socially influencing an individual or team towards specific goals, warrants a foundation and understanding of the social influences that the individual and the team bring to the table.

… SO WHAT? …

Connerly and Pederson suggest that one’s ability to lead starts at the leader’s drive down “Change” Lane and then continually taking breaks at the intersection of “Multiculturalism” and “Cultural Identity” Avenue! A leader’s personal GPS system must engage in exposure to what others constitute as their identity and constantly release the degrees of personal boundaries that one puts up in trying to communicate and make contact with others in their daily lives. Just like a GPS system has to be constantly updated for new streets,  a leader’s personal GPS system must be constantly updated to understand the influences of globalism, power and  injustice, privilege, faultlines and triggers, and concepts like inclusion. Only then will a leader be able to properly engage in the Leadership Response Cycle and assess situations,  develop goals, create action, and evaluate and share feedback on issues such as team and individual performance and development, conflict management, and SWOT analysis.


The knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes of leadership and multiculturalism of the past do not fit the leadership needed for today—the leadership needed to be successful in an ever-changing global community. Bell-Rose and Dasai suggest that tomorrow’s leaders don’t need just a “lil” exposure to others in response to globalism; the authors, similarly to our course readings, suggest that

“Whether you are buying a car or casting a ballot, choosing a job or planning a family, follow your moral compass. Don’t let others define you. Don’t let advertisers mold you; don’t let zealots ensnare you; don’t let conventional wisdom trap you….you are part of a much larger whole.” -Denis Hayes

today’s students need a comprehensive understanding of the global economy, national security, democracy and citizenship, cultural diversity within the U.S., and global knowledge and values. The development of a global society is no longer of debate— globalism is in reality and actuality and demands the actions and behavior of culturally-cognizant leaders. This concept must be intricately ingrained in our educational system and thus today’s students, and not just through one class or a few celebrations. Only then will we be able to graduate leaders with the tools to transcend beyond differences and drive leadership in a multicultural society.


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