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Provide Social Role Models

8 October, 2015 - 15:23

When you see someone who is successful and has accomplished the same goal as you, even in the face of resistance, you are more apt to believe that you, too, can accomplish those same goals. You believe that you have the abilities to master the tasks required to reach your goals. This is why finding a role model or mentor who is similar to you can help build your self-efficacy. If you are leading a team or department, you can find social role models to encourage your employees to build their self-esteem.

Self-efficacy increases when you are able to relate to your role model or mentor. 1 If you surround yourself in cultural interactions with people who are not successful, even if you try very hard to be motivated in these challenges, this will undermine your efforts. Finding someone who has overcome cultural challenges will greatly benefit you. For example, read the following story about Tom, David, and Raj:

Tom and David both lead sales departments for separate divisions of their manufacturing company. In the past two months, both have traveled frequently and separately to India to work with a new division of customer service representatives who work with their respective departments. Ever since their boss informed them of this new venture, Tom and David have had separate emotions and experiences related to the new business situation.

Tom’s been less enthusiastic and interested in the project. Having never been out of the country and working only nationally, he’s hesitant and less thrilled than David about the new division and what it would entail. Similarly, David’s never been out of the country, but he has, over time, cultivated interest in cultural experiences different from his own. He has intentionally taken part in different intercultural events at local and national levels. He can’t wait to get started on the project.

Raj, their division supervisor, knows the abilities of each member of her staff. She requires them to purchase books and resources to help them learn about the local Indian culture. She’s even enrolled them in a language and culture class. She knows that Tom has been more reluctant to try new things. David seems to be gaining momentum and retaining more information that he’s learned compared to Tom. She notices the difference and thinks that Tom could learn from David.

Both have worked together closely in the past and share similar career and personal goals. Raj capitalizes on the relationship by building in a mentor-mentee component. She speaks to both of them about this new piece to their working relationship and receives an agreement and support from both. She also manages the relationship closely, ensuring that during this time Tom gets what he needs to be a culturally intelligent leader and that David receives mentorship and guidance from her. In this way, they’re working as partners, each serving as role models and mentors to another person.

As a leader, Raj is able to identify intercultural competency areas where Tom and David can both benefit. Raj knows that Tom needs support to boost his confidence level when working across cultures. She also knows that David has the self-confidence but needs assistance in understanding cultural facts. By building strategies that are appropriate for each person, she builds her team’s cultural intelligence. In the end, she learns about her own ability to work with two managers who have different individual cultural experiences.