Globalization has promoted the incorporation of diverse cultures within organizations. As such, leaders need to integrate cultural adaptations in their leadership styles without undermining their moral beliefs. Authentic leadership and cultural intelligence are crucial in cultural adaptation because they enable a leader to solve cross-cultural differences while upholding the leader’s ethics and personal values. Authentic leadership focuses on personal values, while cultural intelligence emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and external interactions in creating and sustaining moral, cultural adaptations.
The late Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s founder, and former CEO was an exemplary leader in instigating cross-cultural adaptation within his company. He is my inspiration in adaptive leadership because of the values he instigated at IKEA. For example, his main objective was to make everyday life better for all his employees and the local communities in supplier countries. Hence, he focused on servant leadership, resource-consciousness, and customer-centered marketing among his employees ( Bose, 2018). As such, IKEA’s work environment promotes respect and ethical behavior.
Authentic leadership comprises four factors, namely; self-awareness, relational transparency, balanced processing, and adoption of moral perspective. While self-awareness emphasizes trust in one’s beliefs, balanced processing, and relational transparency analyze available data before decision-making. Mr.Kamprad was highly ranked in the four areas of authentic leadership. He applied self-awareness and balanced processing when solving cross-cultural challenges. For instance, IKEA sought Mr. Kamprad’s advice when dealing with accusations of child labor within the Indian rug market. The leader advised IKEA to take responsibility and use the opportunity to create awareness of child labor in India. As such, Marianne Barner, IKEA’s area manager at that time (after much deliberations with Mr. Kamprad), discontinued the inclusion of child labor in most factories contracted by the company (Cirillo, 2011). Moreover, IKEA’s leadership incorporated relational transparency by updating the company’s working conditions to prevent child labor in its supply chain, and initiate an educational program for the children. In doing so Mr.Kamprad proved to be an excellent authentic leader as I thought.
Mr. Kamprand is a highly-admired leader because he also incorporated moral perspectives in decision-making. For instance, he chose to uphold human dignity, and accept that IKEA had made a mistake by condoning child labor unintentionally. The accusation about the use of child labor ruined IKEA’s brand, but the company did not play the blame game to absolve itself from the predicament. Instead, its leaders used the opportunity to create awareness of child labor. By taking responsibility to investigate the accusations of child labor in its supply chain and expecting the same from its suppliers; IKEA shows a company managed through adaptive leadership. Therefore, the behavior of Mr. Kamprad when solving child labor in Indian was favorable. Moreover, the way IKEA handled the situation increased the ratings of Mr. Kamprad’s leadership.
The cross-cultural workplace diversity faced by IKEA in sourcing its suppliers necessitated the need for cultural intelligence in handling the issue of child labor within IKEA’s rug suppliers. According to Vogelgesang, Clamp-Smith, & Turner (2009), the inclusion of cultural intelligence in cultural adaptation emphasizes interacting with people to understand their cultural background. IKEA interacted with Indian rug makers and noted the challenges they face in meeting the set codes of conduct. The approach helped IKEA form new strategies that promoted a good working environment for Indian rug makers and ensured access to education for their children. Therefore, IKEA’s leaders chose to uphold dignity while culturally adapting to Indians’ work ethics.
Ethics and personal values guide organizational behaviors in solving cross-cultural workplace diversity. Personal values help a leader to prioritize moral issues when creating a moral, cultural adaptation (Vogelgesang et al., 2009). For example, IKEA chose to integrate cross-cultural workplace diversity but uphold its ethical principle of humanity by discontinuing child labor in the Indian rug suppliers. As a result, the company created a code of conduct for its suppliers; IKEA Way (IWAY). On the other hand, some organizational management has made differing decisions in dealing with cross-cultural differences in the workplace or host countries. Some have enforced their cultures on workers without considering cultural differences. For example, Navera (2016) notes that Fuyao Glass maintained a fixed Chinese schedule on Americans working at the company despite the workers raising concerns for a flexible schedule of working five days a week, eight hours a day. Hence an organization’s response to cultural adaptation reflects on the leadership style adopted within the organization.
I want to be a leader that promotes servant leadership as did Mr. Kamprad. The exercise has enabled me to identify the two main factors that promote servant leadership through cultural adaptations; that is, the incorporation of authentic leadership and cultural intelligence as evident by the adaptive leadership instigated by Mr. Kamprad. Thus, Mr. Kamprad’s leadership is the best example of adaptive leadership in the modern era.
Bose, P. (2018). Ingvar Kamprad-life and lessons: a story that inspires millions. Retrieved from https://www.medium.com/@parthabose/ingvar-kamprad-life-and-lessons-a-story-that-inspires-millions-4208df12b8e
Cirillo, J. (2011). Human rights and global sourcing: IKEA in India. Journal of International Management. Retrieved from https://www.journalofinternationalmanagement.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/human-rights-and-global-sourcing-ikea-in-india/amp
Navera, T. (2016). Fuyao to bring $280M to Ohio economy this year. Dayton Business Journal. Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/news/2016/06/23/fuyao-to-bring-280m-to-ohio-economy-this-year.amp.html
Vogelgesang, G., Clapp-Smith, R., Palmer, N. (2009). The Role of Authentic Leadership and Cultural Intelligence in Cross-Cultural Contexts: An Objectivist Perspective. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 5(2), 102-117. Retrieved from: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/ijls/new/vol5iss2/IJLS_vol5_iss2_vogelgesang_authentic_leadership.pdf