The question is not ‘whether culture really matters’ today in the modern world but to know ‘how culture really matters’ - Amartya Sen
One of the most fascinating methodologies of having a thorough perspective of life is through journeys. For years, people have travelled far and wide for business and leisure. If we take India as a case, there are more than 300,000 expats and the number is just increasing by the day. With fast growing economy and plethora of opportunities, especially in the outsourcing industry, it is very important to understand the dynamics of the land and its people. Being "inter-culturally operational" is the key to succeed today. This is where Cultural Coaching as a service becomes very useful.
Many organizations may wonder why cultural coaching is so important for a corporate to invest. The answer might sound simple but is profound. Cultural sensitivity is essential part of business environment as employees work with individuals and teams originating from various cultures both internationally and within the organization. Global leadership is not just about well qualified and talented high performers. The functional and technical skills that got leaders at a global level are not the same competencies that will help them to sustain in or move further ahead from that level.
Further, this cultural coaching service is not restricted to only expats but also others since every employee may have to deal with people from a different ethnicity or culture. It helps employees to know why colleagues from different culture or ethnicity think- act-react or make decisions in a different way than theirs and how can they work with them in an effective and efficient manner.
With that, let us bust some myths around cultural coaching.
- Working with a cultural coach doesn’t mean the coached is incapable of figuring things out on your own.
Cultural knowledge of basic etiquette and do’s and don’ts can be gained off the internet and by reading books. However, cultural coaching helps to get a different perspective, get practical insights to have better business conversations and supports the executives to up their game in order to reach where they want or need to be. Opting for cultural coaching indicates self-awareness which is the first step to developing Cultural Intelligence quotient (CQ).
- The cultural coach will not FIX all the problems.
Coaching is beyond just knowing the basic cultural etiquette – “do not point your fingers”, “do not shake hands” etc. The coach would support to develop awareness and skills around how to handle complex situations in a different country or when working with people of a different cultural background.
- The cultural coach will not be around forever as a friend. Cultural coaching does create an open and trusting relationship between the coach and the coached, but this professional relationship should not be considered as friendship. Coaches are required to be third party observers who could help in the development rather than being the go-to-advisors for every smallest thing. For the latter, one must reach out to their colleagues or peers.
- Don’t mistake the cultural coach to be a “Book” or “Google”. The cultural coach is expected to have good knowledge about business exchanges across cultures but not really about the history, local folklore, food, places to visit, politics etc.
Strengthscape’s Cultural Coaching as a service is in line with the busted myths stated above. The coaching journey provides a deep-rooted understanding of cultures that guides the expats and executives on the tenets of business dealings in the country and to handle complex business conversations in a cross-cultural set-up.
In cultural coaching, the basic methodology of coaching – Strengthscape’s DANCE methodology – is applicable as it provides the structure for the coaching journey. Within that structure, the conversations and action points to implement are from the culture perspective.
Here are some highlights of the cultural coaching service of Strengthscape
- To begin with, a clear understanding of the culture(s) that the individual has to work with is established (the different countries/cities)
- There will be an SME coach who would be appointed to work with the expat of executive. The coach will be an SME with respect to that culture (preferably someone who has worked in that culture as well so that he or she can provide valuable insights in the business context)
- If cultural coaching is a sub-part of a larger coaching journey which is focusing on multiple developmental aspects, then there will be one anchor coach who would be working with the coached throughout the journey and multiple SME coaches who would work from time to time.
- At times, use of some assessments may be recommended to assess the current understanding of the coached around that culture
- The coach will also spend some time to understand and familiarize oneself with the cultural background of the coached in order to help him or her understand the differences and similarities and have more meaningful conversations
- If there are multiple cultures that needs to be focus, the coach would focus on them one at a time. Which also means that the coaching journey will be longer
The above stated highlights are followed in the larger process of coaching which starts with discovery and rapport building that defines the relationship and objectives, building self-awareness, creating a new strategy for action, getting a buy-in for the same, implementation and follow up on the action plan and celebrating success.
The duration of a cultural coaching journey will be anywhere between three to twelve months depending on the complexity of role, culture and objectives. The coach will differ from one engagement to another depending on the expertise needed. For more details, contact us.