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Executive Presence: Six Dimensions to Build Trusting Multicultural Relationships (Power Distance Index)

Executive Presence:  Six Dimensions to Build Trusting Multicultural Relationships (Power Distance Index)
(source:  United Nations.org)

(source: United Nations.org)

by Terri L. Williams

The organization created to promote international co-operation, the United Nations (UN) is celebrating its 70th year today.   The UN was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. The organization’s objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.

At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The headquarters of the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York City. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna.

There are over 190 countries in the world.  Traditions and customs are representations of respect for individuals, organizations, and countries.  The easiest way to disrespect an individual, organization, or country is to demonstrate insensitivity to their customs and traditions.

There is not a uniform approach to understanding any country’s social/business culture or etiquette. Additionally, personal cultures of individuals, whether they be religious, regional, gender, corporate or otherwise should be taken into consideration. Knowledge can assist in improving understanding and avoiding offenses.

Obama-UN

President Barack Obama speaking at the United Nations (Source: Google Images)

The flow of business personnel internationally has meant that people are now having to work more and more in foreign environments and alongside people of different cultures. Being a manager in a foreign country is never an easy task. One has to deal with differences in business culture, etiquette, man-management styles, communication styles and much more.  For example, I lived overseas in the Republic of South Korea for three years.  In order to become effective in my new country my organization required me to learn Korean culture, customs, manners, etiquette, and values to understand the people better.

UN-Obama

President Obama departing a session at the United Nations (Source: Google Images)

 

We are hardwired for connection

-Dr. Brene Brown, American scholar, author, and public speaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE PERSPECTIVES

Globalization, multiculturalism, cross-culturalism, demographic shifts are all trends that signal the need to demonstrate skills with diverse cultures is imperative.  The demand is high for those individuals that can deal with a wide range of communications situations and communicate smoothly across cultures.  One of the most important global competencies leaders can obtain is cultural insight that enhances business relationships.

According to Dr. David Livermore, President of the Cultural Intelligence Center, a midwestern think tank, Coca-Cola sells more beverages in Japan than in the U.S.; entrepreneurs in China, Brazil, and Nigeria create businesses that compete with mammoth Western corporations; and virtual meetings and conference calls happen across borders around the clock.  Similary, Retired Four-Star General Stanley McChrystal stated in a recent Ted Talk, “…instead of being able to get all the key leaders for a decision together in a single room and look them in the eye and build their confidence and get trust from them, I’m now leading a force that’s dispersed, and I’ve got to use other techniques. I’ve got to use video teleconferences, I’ve got to use chat, I’ve got to use email, I’ve got to use phone calls — I’ve got to use everything I can, not just for communication, but for leadership.”

 

Rank

(Source: Google Images)

For example understanding the importance of rank and status everywhere in the world is imperative to business. In North America, in some organizations, the CEO is on a first name basis with the mailroom attendant. This style of business behavior depends on the culture of the company. Internationally, status is accorded differently. Professor Emeritus Geert Hofstede, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, says there is a key intercultural dimension that can predict how status is accorded. This factor is called the Power Distance Index.  Hofstede has identified this fundamental influence in every culture. It explains the sharing of “power” among persons and factions within a social group, and the way in which any differences in authority are handled inside these communities.

 

Rank is of great consequence to citizens of nations beyond North America. To appreciate the significance of position and standing in other places around the globe, we should think about our personal notion of these ideas. One is certainly aware of organizations where the CEO is familiar with the clerk in the mailroom. While such professional conduct is possible for certain businesses in Canada and the United States, it is unusual elsewhere.

You must expect to have to follow procedure in all of your transactions overseas. The job title you hold in your own country determines the counterpart you will join with in your sought-after territory—i.e. VP’s get together with other VP’s.

Hofstede’s Power Distance Index chart below an example of the comparative differences in power distance on a global scale by country:

Power Distance

(Source: Google Images)

 

Additionally, Here is a snapshot of the range in power distance index from small to large from Hofstede’s Culture’s Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations:

SMALL POWER DISTANCE

(scores lower than 50:  US, Canada, Australia, Germany, UK, Sweden)

• Disparities between individuals ought to be diminished
• Parents regard their offspring as contemporaries
• Underlings anticipate discussion
• The model supervisor is creative and open
• Educators demand their pupils show ingenuity

LARGE POWER DISTANCE

(scores higher than 50:  Russia, China, India, and France)
• Disparities between individuals are not only accepted they are considered necessary
• Parents regard their offspring as subservient
• Underlings anticipate being given instructions
• The model supervisor is authoritarian
• Educators usually plan their lessons

 

Gret

Geert Hofstede (Source: Google Images)

Geert Hofstede created the model of national culture, which consists of six dimensions. The cultural dimensions represent independent preferences for one state of affairs over another that distinguish countries (rather than individuals) from each other. The model consists of the following dimensions:

  1. Power Distance Index (PDI)
  2. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  3. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
  5. Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO)*
  6. Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)

 

Using Hofstede’s model of six national culture dimensions can aid us in understanding customs and cultures to ensure our behavior is respectful when interacting in multicultural environments. We will explore each of Hofstede’s dimensions in the upcoming weeks.

 

SOURCES

  1. Hofstede, Geert. Culture’s Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications; Second Edition; February 2003
  2. http://users.tkk.fi/~vesanto/ihfudge/culture-part2.html
  3. http://www.un.org/en/index.html

 


panache-logoTerri L. Williams is an executive presence expert specializing in communications, gravitas, and appearance. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of specialized experience in human resource management and corporate protocol. Terri is also a veteran of the United States Army, with service in domestic and international assignments. As the President and Founder of Panache Career Strategies, LLC, Terri L. Williams leads Executive Presence training programs and seminars that can help you to improve your skills. A leader in facilitating the “gold standard” in a wide range of services focused on solutions for individual, group, customized programs, seminars and keynote speeches. Working with leaders and executives Panache Career Strategies, LLC will support their executive presence goals in communications and gravitas.

FREE RESOURCES
Virtual Courses. Learn the fundamental importance of Professional and Executive presence.
Our Weekly Blog. Receive weekly insights and useful tips on Executive Presence and professional image on our blog
Executive Presence Quiz. Test your executive presence knowledge with this fun and fast quiz. Take the quiz here.

Copyright © 2015 Panache Career Strategies with exclusive rights from Corporate Class, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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6 Leadership Lessons from the Women In Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial 

6 Leadership Lessons from the Women In Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial 

By Terri L. Williams

WIMSA

The Women In Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery (photo courtesy of Google Images).

stamp

US Postage Stamp honoring WIMSA Memorial, released October 1997 (photo courtesy of Google Images).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gala

US Postage Stamp Army Representative SFC Terri L. Williams and spouse MGST Marshall Williams attending the WIMSA Memorial Dedication Gala, October 1997 (photos courtesy of the WIMSA Memorial)

Today is the 18th Anniversary of the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial.  Dedicated on this day, October 18, 1997, the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial was an amazing tribute that I was honored to contribute to in two ways:  first as a member of the retired military community I supported a 3 day weekend of opening day ceremonial events with more than 20 activities, which included a gala, sunrise service, breakfasts, luncheons, opening ceremony, and dedication activities. Secondly, in March 1997, I was selected by Brigadier General Wilma Vaught to represent the United States Army on a US Postage stamp representing the 2.5 million women whom served in the Armed Forces. My first meeting with BG Vault occurred in January 1997, when she telephoned me to inform me that I was nominated by Master Sergeant Phillip Prater, United States Army; to serve as the US Army’s representative on the US Postage Stamp, and that she wanted to interview me. As such, we met within a day of her telephone call and she interviewed me for an hour, which was my very first interview, as I was still on active duty and had never interviewed for a role outside of the military. I left BG Vault’s office and she informed me that in a couple of weeks she would make her selection. I was selected as the US Army representative for the US postage stamp, which was released on the Memorial’s Opening Day, October 18, 1997. As with the other four service members selected BG Vault ensured that we mirrored the women in the armed forces and reflected diversity in culture and occupations. The stamp that was produced in the 1950s consisted of women that were models and not actual service members.

women-1

The original representatives of the armed services (photo courtesy of the US Postage Service and the Women’s Memorial).

women-2

The original representatives of the armed services (photo courtesy of the US Postage Service and the Women’s Memorial).

 

The USPS printed 37 million of the stamps, which were sold in panes of 20. The design featured servicewomen dressed in the uniforms of the five services. The words “Women in Military Service” appear in white across the top of a blue background with five white stars beneath the phrase.

 

 

 

 

Vault

BG Wilma Vault, USAF Retired President of the WIMSA Memorial (photo courtesy of Google Images).

In 2013, The White House Champions of Change Winning the Future Across America program honored Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, President of the Women in Military Service for America as the driving force that built the $22.5 million Women’s Memorial at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery.

The Women’s Memorial’s unique vision to serve as a living memorial honoring all military women—past, present and future, represents the efforts of more than 2 million women whom served in the US military.  It’s mission, is initiated by this quote:

“Let the generations know that the women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.”

—Anne S. (Sosh) Brehm

1LT, USA NC, World War II

Nestled away at the Ceremonial Entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, more than 200,00 people visit the Memorial annually.   The Memorial is the place where the stories of women contributions to the armed services will be told for generations and as a place where America’s servicewomen can take their rightful place in history.  The Memorial and its 33,000 sq. ft. education facility is the nation’s only major memorial to pay tribute to America’s 2.5 million women who have served.

vault-obama

BG Vault, USAF Retired, escorting First Lady Michelle Obama on a tour of the WIMSA Memorial (photo courtesy of Google Images).

 

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE PERSPECTIVES

Today, we enjoy a “living memorial” that represents the efforts of more than 2.5 million women veterans, at historic Arlington National Cemetery.

From an executive presence perspective, the physical reality of the establishment, maintenance, and sustainment of the Women’s Memorial is an act of gravitas.  From 1987 until Opening Day the leadership contributions of numerous amazing military and civilians were major contributors to the Opening of the Memorial.

The Executive Presence’s Gravitas element resonates through the story of the Women’s Memorial and the leadership of Brigadier General Wilma J. Vaught, President of the Women In Military Service for America Foundation.  The six core traits of Gravitas (confidence, decisiveness, emotional intelligence, integrity, reputation, and vision) play out very well in Brigadier General Wilma Vaught’s leadership since 1985, although she began since the conception of the memorial in 1982.

After her retirement in 1985, Brigadier General Vaught became the primary spokesperson for the Womens Memorial.  In 1997, the Washington Post reported, according to Vaught, she was elected president of the memorial foundation because she missed the first meeting and was not there to turn down the honor.

 

GRAVITAS KEY LESSONS FROM BRIGADIER GENERAL WILMA VAUGHT:

 

  1. CONFIDENCE:   “I wanted to lead,” says BG Vaught.  The one thing she did know is that she wanted to be in charge. “When I came into the Air Force, I couldn’t hope to be a general because the law said women couldn’t be generals,” She served as the as the senior military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and chairperson of the Committee of Women in the NATO Armed Forces.
  • Executive Presence Perspective: Your ability to exude confidence and maintain composure under pressure or extremely stressful situations is the most important component of gravitas. Taking responsibility and maintaining your dignity is key. To achieve this plateau requires a high level of self-assuredness and the commitment to being well prepared. Your goal is poise, not perfection. There is a fine line between exuding confidence and appearing arrogant.

 

  1. DECISIVENESS:  From 1982 until 1985, BG Vault pushed for a memorial as the leader of the Women in Military Service to America Memorial Foundation.  She strove to obtain more than a statue on a side street in Washington, DC.
  • Executive Presence Perspective: A Making difficult decision publicly and in a timely manner sends a message of credibility and authority. Again, confidence is the key component.  Decisiveness is often called into play over lengthy time periods or challenging situations. No waffling allowed! It’s the ability to stick and stay, even when your decision is not popular and leads to criticism. Decisiveness is firmness without aggression.

 

  1. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  During her initial women’s officer training, BG Vault says, “We had to learn how to be charming and attractive. That’s the way it was.”  Upon reaching the rank of General Officer, BG Vault  became concerned that the role of women in the military was going unnoticed. Using her empathy skills, and she worked to do something to correct this imbalance for women.
  • Executive Presence Perspective: Often referred to as “people skills,” Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to manage your own feelings, while recognizing and behaving in harmony with other people’s feelings. Your ability to create a human side and show empathy indicates a high level of Emotional Intelligence.

 

  1. INTEGRITY: In 1982, Women Veterans began to express a desire for a formal memorial to be established in the Washington DC area.  During this time, then active duty United States Air Force Brigadier (BG) General Wilma Vaught argued that a statue or monument was not enough; what was needed was a memorial with exhibits about the contributions of women in the armed forces.
  • Executive Presence Perspective: Facing difficult issues and situations head-on is key, versus sweeping them under the carpet and ignoring them. The courage to speak with conviction about difficult matters or bad news is a clear indicator of Presence. A cautionary note: Careful choice of timing and delivery — excellent communication skills that deliver your message — are critical to avoid giving the impression of being rude, caustic or outspoken.

 

  1. REPUTATION:  “I served in Vietnam for a year.”  BG Vaught was one of the only non-nurse women to deploy to Vietnam and the first woman in her field to reach the rank of general.  Her military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. General Vaught was promoted to brigadier general Sept. 8, 1980, with date of rank Sept. 6, 1980. She is the first woman selected for promotion to brigadier general in the comptroller career field.
  • Executive Presence Perspective: Although largely impacted by what others say about you and your performance, your consistency and willingness to build your “personal brand” contribute to your reputation.

 

  1. VISION:  “a place where we build the story of what women have done — what they’ve accomplished, what they went through to get there.”  BG Vault helped raise $22.5 million to build the Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.  “The American people and visitors from around the world can learn of the courage and bravery of tens of thousands of American women who, like her, have pioneered the future.” said the White House Champions of Change program
  •  Executive Presence Perspective: The ability to project your vision can be inspirational.  Explaining your goals helps people forge connections (they know where you want to go) to move your vision forward.

 

CONCLUSION

The Women’s Memorial is open seven days a week from 8:00am – 5:00pm, excluding private evening events, except Christmas. It is located at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, and is directly across Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial at the end of Memorial Drive. The Memorial houses an Exhibit Gallery, Hall of Honor, Gift Shop, Theater, Upper Terrace, Court of Valor and, the heart of the Memorial, a computerized Register containing more than 258,000 women’s stories. Admission to the Memorial is absolutely free. To view a map/directions to the Memorial on your mobile device, please scan our QR code:

WIMSA-QR Code

WIMSA QR Code (courtesy of the WIMSA Memorial)

WIMSA-Sketch

The Women In Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial. (sketch courtesy of Google Images).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:

The White House, Champions of Change, Winning the Future Across America – Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, https://www.whitehouse.gov/champions/women-veterans/brigadier-general-wilma-l.-vaught

Women on stamps, United States Postal Service, https://about.usps.com/publications/pub512.pdf

Martin, Rachel, NPR, General Remembers Her ‘Different’ Military Days

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 / http://www.npr.org/2011/02/23/133966767/general-remembers-her-different-military-days

Photographs courtesy of Google Images.

Roberts, Roxanne. “A Snappy Salute to a General.” Washington Post. October 17, 1997.

The Women’s Memorial, http://www.womensmemorial.org/Visit/upperterrace.html


panache-logo Terri L. Williams is an executive presence expert specializing in communications, gravitas, and appearance. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of specialized experience in human resource management and corporate protocol. Terri is also a veteran of the United States Army, with service in domestic and international assignments. As the President and Founder of Panache Career Strategies, LLC, Terri L. Williams leads Executive Presence training programs and seminars that can help you to improve your skills. A leader in facilitating the “gold standard” in a wide range of services focused on solutions for individual, group, customized programs, seminars and keynote speeches. Working with leaders and executives Panache Career Strategies, LLC will support their executive presence goals in communications and gravitas.

FREE RESOURCES
Virtual Courses. Learn the fundamental importance of Professional and Executive presence.
Our Weekly Blog. Receive weekly insights and useful tips on Executive Presence and professional image on our blog
Executive Presence Quiz. Test your executive presence knowledge with this fun and fast quiz. Take the quiz here.

Copyright © 2015 Panache Career Strategies with exclusive rights from Corporate Class, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Share and Enjoy

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