Intercultural competence is a vital cog in the wheel of global expansion.
All business leaders looking to exceed local limitations will encounter different cultures at some point, as will many who operate exclusively in one area. Understanding cultures within a workplace is part of creating the ideal environment for growth.
Meeting Leadership Podcast #039 is the first of a two-part series, where we sit with Dan Garcia of Principia and discuss the details of intercultural competence, such as:
- What exactly is intercultural competence?
- Why you should care about implementing it at your place of business
- The difference between intercultural and multicultural
- Shifting your cultural perspective and adapting it to cultural differences
After listening to this episode and the next (meetingleadershipinc.com/40), you should have a better idea how to avoid cultural mistakes and use diversity to your advantage.
Dan García is the COO of Principia Assessments Ltd. He is a Certified Association Executive with an education in Business Administration and Project Management.
Dan was formerly a Senior Advisor and Director of Integration at the Legal Education Society of Alberta. There, he handled the efficient and effective management of human, financial, physical, technological, and knowledge-based resources, as well as managing social capital through branding, communications, and community engagement initiatives.
Dan is currently a Board Member of the Canadian Society of Association Executives.
You Can get in touch with Dan Garcia at – http://knowprincipia.com/
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00:00 – Show Opening
Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard. (singing)
00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!
Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard and I just want to say thanks for being here. Thanks for being the type of leader who wants to get one more skill, one more practical strategy, one more thing that you can do to go into your next meeting, to be a great leader. If you are a leader who really appreciates the strength that comes from having diversity in your workforce, then you’re going to really get a lot out of today’s episode because today’s show is called Why Intercultural Competence is Critical for All Leaders.
00:59 – Intercultural confidence defined
To get things started, I’ve pulled out the definition of intercultural competence according to Wikipedia. It says, “Intercultural competence is a range of cognitive, effective and behavioral skills that lead to effective and appropriate communication with people of other cultures.” In this day and age, especially with such a global workforce, any leader will get the value of really trying to up their game when it comes to intercultural competence, especially if they’re trying to improve the overall productivity of their meetings.
Gordon S: To learn a whole lot more about this topic we’re bringing in an expert. His name is Dan Garcia. Dan is the chief operating officer of Principia Assessments. They take an evidence-based approach to help organizations get significantly stronger and one of their key areas of focus is intercultural competence. I’m not going to keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the terrific interview with Dan Garcia.
Gordon S: Dan Garcia, welcome to the show.
Dan Garcia: Thanks for having me, Gord.
Gordon S: It’s just been great to know you over the years, for the coffees that we sit down to do. It’s kind of like being in a strategic bubble. The swaps that we’ve been able to do back and forth over the years, but I’m going to guess there’s a bunch of folks that don’t know you, so take a moment to introduce yourself for those who don’t.
02:18 – Welcome Dan Garcia!
Dan Garcia: Sure thing. My name is Dan Garcia. I’m the chief operating officer at Principia Assessment. I also have a number of volunteer hats. I’m with the Canadian Society of Association Executives, on the board, and also for the Alberta Council, and I’m pretty involved in my community, as well, primarily Millwoods, The Meadows, that kind of stuff.
Gordon S: Super well rounded and given your own background from all of the around the world parts that go into your life, the topic that we’re tackling today is called Why Intercultural Competence is Critical for All Leaders, and it really is based on some of the work that you’re doing through your company.
02:54 – Interacting with diverse backgrounds
Dan Garcia: Absolutely, and it’s quite fascinating. I was quite surprised to find myself in this space of professional perspective, but really it came as a result of my professional background and my personal experiences. My family is originally from Central America and growing up I was regularly interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. I felt like I had a good grasp on multiculturalism and its effects on me as a professional, my communities and my society at large. After starting on my own intercultural development, I learned something really important. I learned that being in a multicultural environment is not synonymous with being in an intercultural environment. This realization really helped me get started on my own journey of developing that intercultural competence.
03:44 – Intercultural versus multicultural
Gordon S: Tell me the difference between intercultural and multicultural.
Dan Garcia: Multicultural is really focused on aspects of diversity. The way most people use it is looking at [inaudible 00:03:57], specifically around nationality or ethnicity but, when it comes to culture, we need to look at it from a broader perspective in terms of our values, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors that we learned from the groups to which people belong. The interesting thing about culture is that we need to recognize that we belong to many different groups that shape our patterns and our interpretations and, really, this is how we act in different situations. Now, ethnicity and nationality are often referred to as the objective cultural differences, or if you think of a pond, you see things on top of the pond, but culture is so much deeper and complex than that, it’s nuanced. All the things happening underneath into the pond where you see the evolution and shift in the ecosystem is where the nuanced pieces of intercultural competence really are at play. When we can understand how people are acting and where they’re coming from in terms of cultural differences, that’s when we get intercultural competence. It starts with some self-awareness first, of understanding how our culture has shaped the way we act, and then we can start appreciating the differences between other cultures and how other people may experience similar situations.
Gordon S: This sounds really critical for any leader, especially in today’s day and age when we know that diversity gives us strength, but if we’re missing the cues as leaders in these situations, we’re really not, like you say, going beneath the surface of the pond to get the gold out of there. Does that make sense?
05:32 – Shifting cultural perspectives and adapting behavior to differences
Dan Garcia: Absolutely. I use one specific term for intercultural competence and anybody who is in this space, is interested in it, or works in it knows that there are a lot of specific terms that come up. People use different terms differently but definitions, necessarily, are always evolving. When we were first into intercultural competence it refers to the capability to shift cultural perspectives and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. I’ve had people ask me several times, “Well, why does intercultural competence matter?” Well, we already have a diverse team. First, in terms of appreciating cultural differences, means understanding that what we learn and internalize from these groups to which we belong shapes the way we experience the world and conduct ourselves in it. These kinds of interpretation behavior form our culture. Once we have that, along with our cultural self-awareness, we can begin to understand how our experiences are similar and different from the experiences of people from different cultural groups. For example, we can have a dozen people with diverse backgrounds in the same room watch a comedian and experience the exact same performance differently. Now, as a leader, we can think about how your messages are received from your team or your board based on their diverse cultures. The ability for leaders to bridge across these lines of cultural difference is critical in today’s day and age.
07:00 – Competing Realities
Gordon S: There’s a wonderful leader named Susan Scott who, in her book, Fierce Conversations, talks about just what you’re saying which is the idea of competing realities. We’re all seeing it through a different lens.
Dan Garcia: Exactly, and really, when you’re using any type of instrument to try to assess or understand what your intercultural competence development or what perspectives you use, it’s not about being good or bad or positive or negative. It’s really a snapshot of where you are at based on the experiences that you’ve had in your life. It’s similar to having a runner. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been running for one year or twenty years, you need different interventions at different points depending on your development. Knowing what intervention needs to be made is important.
07:50 – More on Dan Garcia – meetingleadershipinc.com/65
Gordon S: You’ve been listening to Part One of Why Intercultural Competence is Critical for All Leaders. If you want to hear the rest of this interview, then make sure you take in Episode 40 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast tomorrow where you’ll hear all of Part Two. If you’d like to learn even more from Dan Garcia, then check out Episode 65 on the Podcast. It’s titled How Leaders can Improve Intercultural Competence in Their Organization. You can get that by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/65.
08:21 – Meeting Leadership Academy – meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. If you want great live training options and online training options to help you and your team become outstanding meeting leaders, then visit meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. As always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow for Part Two of Why Intercultural Competence is Critical for All Leaders with guest expert, Dan Garcia.
08:52 – Podcast Outro
Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader and don’t forget to write that review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
Links From This Episode
- Intercultural Competence – Wikipedia Link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercultural_competence
- MLP 065: How Leaders Can Improve Intercultural Competence In Their Organization with Dan Garcia – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/65
- Get in touch with Dan Garcia – http://knowprincipia.com/
- Meeting Leadership Academy – https//meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
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