This is especially the case within the bigger multi-cultural organizations. SharePoint will introduce a new way of work, where borders between people cease to exist and where communication is made much more transparent. When a culture is hierarchical sensitive, it will meet many new disturbing things. When subcultures stick to their own island, they will meet intruders within SharePoint, hitting their space and interests in unforeseen ways. In other words: SharePoint is equivalent to innovation and change on many communication levels within an organization. When this is not anticipated, unforeseen and disastrous things can happen.
To return to stability in such cases third party consultancies or some cross-cultural education can be of help. Cross-cultural differences is not only the language because the language is embedded in a broader context wherein non-verbal cues, tone of voice, body language and other signals are the deeper meanings of what is being said (Johnson et al, 2008; Schein, 2004).
Because these non-verbal cues, tone of voice, body language and other signals are not often very visible within the communication space of SharePoint, while many different layers and cultures will communicate with each other, it is important to create some sort of governance plan about how certain rules must be applied to create a shared and understandable way of communicating within the SharePoint space which is acceptable for all the different layers and cultures using it. Otherwise, unforeseen clashes can enter the organizational inner workings and it could touch its effectiveness in the market.
What can be of help to recognize all these hidden elements of cultural differences is a leader with the proper amount of cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is the ability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures. When SharePoint is implemented within a huge company with a hierarchical structure, many sub-cultures and different national cultures; it is important to have such a cultural intelligent leader who can help defining the implementation plan of SharePoint and how it could be beneficial for the (communication/collaboration) strategy of the organization.
Also the emotional intelligence and empathy of a true transformational leader can be of help. Cultural intelligence must be embedded in the body and the heart, as well as in the head. Not all leaders are equally equipped with these qualities, but a serious lack in one of these elements will hamper the other two. Diagnosing your own cultural intelligence and learn where your strengths and weaknesses are (SWOT) can avoid many unforeseen cultural conflicts (Christopher et al, 2004, Livermore, 2009).
Thinking you are that leader who can bring about SharePoint, while you didn’t do the proper introspection and self-analysis can even make the problem bigger than it was. SharePoint is really a very subtle multi-cultural beast with sharp or smooth claws, depending on how you treat it. Treat it badly on the multi-cultural area and it will bite you in the butt. This bite can be a costly one if you do not know what you are doing or what you are dealing with. Thinking you are cultural intelligent while in fact being culturally ignorant will definitely result in interesting SharePoint applicability issues.
Another view on cultural intelligence defines it as a multidimensional construct that consists out of four factors; they emphasize contemporary views of intelligence as a complex and multi-factor set of capabilities composed out of metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioural factors. There is also a strong chance of significant individual differences in cognitive sophistication and behavioural competence that is of influence on someone’s cultural intelligence capabilities (Bhagat et al, 2009; Saunders et al, 2010)
What this means for SharePoint is that this multidimensional construct can help us define all the different (sub)cultures within a huge organization and create the proper (SharePoint cultural) governance plan around using SharePoint. The intelligence of the people do have several needs which asks for the proper answers. Giving this multi-factor set of capabilities the right stimulations through the use of SharePoint, with the proper implementation, applicability and usability of the (SharePoint cultural) governance plan, is certainly a good example of cultural intelligent thinking.
To develop your cultural intelligence it is important to analyse your cultural determined norms, assumptions, judgements and expectations. The well-equipped cultural intelligent manager has a toolbox with cultural appropriate behaviour and knows when to use which tool at the right moments, for example during the complexities of a SharePoint implementation. These managers are able to pick up subtle cues and can anticipate on the needed changes in organizational cultures (Thomas et al, 2004).
With all these things being said about cultural intelligence, it is not hard to see that this is a main element of the successful leader of bringing about change through SharePoint within an organizational culture. It has a strong relationship with transformational leadership and emotional intelligence. The five components of the emotional intelligent leader as having self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, are essential in the development of cultural intelligence and being able to pick up the subtle cues of cultural differences when SharePoint is implemented and used.
Transformational leaders are able to motivate people through the power of their own enthusiasm and are emotionally stimulating. When the elements of transformational leadership are combined with cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence, the leader is better capable to bring about change with SharePoint in an organizational culture that is divided in many sub-cultures (Senior, 2006; Thomas et al, 2004; Goleman, 1998)
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Christopher, P., & Mosakowski, E. (2004). Cultural Intelligence. In H. B. OnPoint (Ed.), The Harvard Business Review. Boston: The Harvard Business Review Paperback Series.
Goleman, D. (2000). Working with Emotional Intelligence (First ed.). The Bantam Dell Publishing Group.
Johnson, G., Scholes, K., & Whittington, R. (2008). Exploring Corporate Strategy (Eeight ed.). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
Livermore, D. (2009). Leading with Cultural Intelligence. AMACOM.
Saunders, M., Skinner, D., Dietz, G., Gillespie, N., & Lewicki, R. (2010). Organizational Trus. Cambridge University Press.
Schein, E. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership (third ed.). San Fransisco: Jossey Bass.
Senior, B., & Fleming, J. (2006). Organizational Change (3rd ed.). FT/Prentice Hall.
Thomas, D., & Inkson, K. (2004). Cutural Intelligence. Berett-Koehler.