The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Teddy Truex '22 RGLP Reflection: The Importance of Adaptability in Intercultural Settings

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Adaptability has always been a strength of mine and something I value highly in leaders. As a leader in an ever changing world, it is extremely important to be quick on your feet and be able to adapt to any situation or environment that may arise. RGLP reinforced this belief for me and exposed me to new dimensions of adaptability that I had never thought about before. In approaching intercultural interactions of any kind, adaptability means many things. It means being conscious of how your own culture affects the ways you communicate and express yourself. It means being aware of potential differences in the communication styles of people from different backgrounds, and not taking your own cultural norms for granted. It means being able to adjust your own perceptions and reflect on mistakes or miscalculations you make in an intercultural interaction. It means being able to adjust the way you express your thoughts and feelings in order to communicate more effectively with people from different backgrounds. All of these aspects of adaptability are crucial to being an effective leader in culturally diverse settings. In order to lead diverse groups of people, you cannot use a one size fits all approach to leadership. Rather, you have to be able to change your style to meet the needs of each individual person you are leading. This requires adaptability on two fronts. First, it means being able to pivot away from your “default” leadership style, or the way you would lead a group of people who think and communicate the same way you do. Second, it means being able to rapidly switch between different styles when interacting with different people. When leading in a culturally diverse environment, you can never assume that your default styles of communication and leadership may not be effective with everyone. Similarly, it is important to consider and account for the things you take for granted within your own culture and not assume things that are normal to you are normal for everyone. Ultimately, adaptability is the key to being an effective global leader. 

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