Leadership and the Cultural Conundrum of Body Language by Li Huang at Insead Knowledge on 21 November 2013

We are living in an increasingly global community, and we can find ourselves leading multicultural teams.  There are many benefits as long as you make sure that you stay aware of the impact of culture: yours, the other people, the team in which you work, and the overall organization.

You have to be careful of body language that could inadvertently convey a different meaning than your words, and that may have an impact on your ability to lead and influence others.  The author provides an example where a cross-cultural teacher assumed a pose that would imply authority, but that it had the opposite effect of undermining his authority.  You have to be careful, however, that you do not arbitrarily constrict your body language for the sake of cultural awareness – placing yourself in a pose that you find uncomfortable can reduce your confidence and comfort, potentially leading to words and behavior that would actually undermine your authority.

This article does not give immediate actionable advice but it is something to consider, especially when working with culturally diverse teams in Canada and abroad.


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