Diversity in an organization refers to the presence of different ethnic groups, gender, class, languages and other attributes of employees in an organization. Diversity in an organization creates opportunities and challenges. Diversity is said to cause organizational change and it is important for managers to manage diversity for the organization (Allen, Dawson & White, 2008). Diversity in an organization provides the stakeholders with a wide range of ideas which help implement change. When people have diversified ideas they can develop a new system and this facilitates organizational change (Allen et al., 2004).
As a leader there are several challenges that a person might encounter when working with diverse groups of individuals during organizational change. One of the challenges includes cultural conflicts which arise from cultural diversity within an organization. Culture refers to the set of beliefs, norms and attitudes that people from a particular region have in common. People from different regions have different cultures and this may create conflicts in an organization. Cultural differences among employees cause conflicts because of differences in understanding about issues in the organization. People use their own culture as a reference when interpreting issues within an organization. This aspect creates conflicts because each individual has different understanding of different aspects of the organization (Appelbaum, Shapiro & Elbaz, 1998).
As a leader, I would address this challenge of cultural conflicts in a diversified organization by allowing my employees to interact with each other and learn the culture of each other for better understanding. Interaction among employees would provide them with adequate knowledge about the cultural practices of their colleagues. Understanding the culture of other people helps reduce conflicts because differences in culture can be amicably resolved.
According to Beechler and Javidan (2007), globalization refers to the interconnectivity of people from different cultures, politics and economic aspects. Globalization has resulted into reduced barriers of communication and trade between people in different countries. Increase in globalization has resulted into many organizations operating in different countries. Multinational companies open subsidiaries in different countries and the managers of these companies must understand different legal, economic, social and cultural systems of the people they work with. In addition, companies source resources from within the country they operate or from foreign countries and this requires good communication system for ease in interactions between all players (Beechler & Javidan, 2007).
The role of a leader is to influence other people to contribute willingly to the goals and objectives of the organization. Leaders have a role of inculcating a culture within the organization that is suitable for achieving the goals of the organization. Leaders working in a diversified work environment need to have skills of understanding the behavior of all people they work with. Leaders at the global level work with people from different cultural backgrounds and there is need to understand different cultural practices of the people they operate with. It is important for leaders working in global organizations to involve all stakeholders in decision making. To ensure all people accept and support the implementation of decisions of the organization, decision making should be an inclusive process where all people participate in making all decisions (Beechler & Javidan, 2007). Therefore, global leaders must possess competencies which enable them to work with different people from different backgrounds. Some of the competences are “cross-cultural relationship skills, traits and values, global business expertise, cognitive orientation, global organizing expertise, and visioning” (Mendenhall & Osland, 2002, p. 2).
Motivating people to achieve goals is an important aspect that global leaders must bear in mind. Leaders have followers who look upon their support in achieving organizational goals. Global leaders have control over followers scattered in different parts of the world and motivating these people becomes a major challenge. Forming teams is important for a global leader because it is through these teams that they are able to implement decisions. Team building is an important quality that leaders operating at the global level must possess because they cannot control all activities at once. The teams are spread in different work stations and the goals of the organization are developed and implemented at the team level. The leader must provide a vision for all teams and to encourage unity in the teams. Each team must have a team leader whom all duties are delegated by the global leader. Delegating duties is important when working with a large number of people because there are many obligations to be fulfilled (McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002).
Global leaders encounter uncertainty in their operations and there is need to have better skills to handle different situations uniquely. Diversity at the global level provides a diversified system which cannot be predicted with certainty. Dealing with uncertainty at the global level requires leaders to take risks about the activities they undertake. Risk taking and uncertainty are very important when dealing with a wide range of issues which cannot be predicted easily. Risk taking is very important and it requires a lot of courage for a person to deal with uncertainty. Overcoming uncertainty provides the leader with charisma to pursue challenging situations and to overcome barriers experienced in conducting global activities (Bingham, Felin & Black, 2000).
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