Cultural Intelligence: How Leaders Can Navigate the Racial Divide in America

Racial Divide-2017

In June of 1995, the Jury in the OJ Simpson trial announced a verdict of not guilty. The aftermath of dismal reactions highlighted significant conflicts and diverging views in America’s workplaces. In fact, white and black people had a different perspective on the OJ Simpson Trial and life in general. Eighty-three percent of whites stated that Simpson was “definitely” or “probably” guilty while only fifty-seven percent of blacks agreed with this assessment. Rather than carefully assessing one’s own viewpoint when evaluating a different culture, most individuals make assumptions about other cultures definitely.

Sadly, we still have not learned this lesson in the United States. The last several days have been very hectic as I try to answer students’ questions and address my own concerns about a recent Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary gaff that has provided another headwind for others sharing the Good News. Let me say that we have all done foolish things and have suffered the consequences. Most of us have had to debase the impacts of this photo on our popular culture to our students and others.

In the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth (TX), five seminary professors, including the dean of the School of Preaching, put on gangster-style clothing (perhaps dressing like urban rappers), flashing their gold chains and one holding a handgun. Written above the photo were the words “Notorious S.O.P,” which was a reference to the seminary’s School of Preaching and to the black rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-photo

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Catch the Global Wave

What does the future hold?  I can’t be certainty. However, I do know leaders must be courageous, adaptable, and communicators for their followers. Many people fear the future and change. With globalization connected to America’s future, leaders need to also consider a worldview. Stewart Black, Allen Morrison, and Hal Gregersen, authors of Global Explorers, maintain that exemplar global leaders possess a keen interest in global business.

 Furthermore, business savvy becomes the word of the day because people must think globally and adjust activities on the local level as well as satisfying customers at all levels. Inquisitive person are also valuable on a global front because they are curious in the face of uncertainty.

Management strategists view these cultural shifts like movements of waves in an ocean.  Each successive wave of technology brings with it a corresponding value shift. Sadly, new technologies can bring giant leaps in productivity while expanding the moral decay of mankind.  For example, the Industrial Era ushered in a period of materialism, self-sufficiency, and the supremacy of man.

Currently, organizations are witnessing the explosion of information, advancement of communication technology, globalization, and the rising of knowledge workers. Globalization can even shift behavior. In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, 18-year old Jamal Malik is a slave to cultural trends. The movie demonstrated the impacts of globalization on diverse cultures in the world.

Herman Maynard and Susan Mehrtens, authors of The Fourth Wave: Business in the 21st century, suggest the following emerging trends: (a) shift in consciousness, (b) disenchantment with science, (c) inner sources of power, (d) spiritualization of humanity (e) anti-materialism (f) political and economic democratization, and (g) global unification

 Furthermore, today’s existent represents an integration of all dimensions of life and responsibility for all individuals in globalization; it also promotes the unification of the human race. If today’s organizations want to be competitive in the international market, they must learn to active survey the world that is around them. Therefore, modern leaders cannot afford to miss interpret the trends in this global market.

 What are some trends in your industry and how will it impact society?

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green