Seek first to Understand

I used to think…..

Reflection was an important part of leadership success.

What I have learned……

Metacognitive Cultural Intelligence allows leaders to actively think about people and situations in other cultures. It provokes them to challenge cultural stereotypes and assumptions and drives leaders to find new and flexible approaches that are culturally relevant and appropriate. (Ang, 2006)

As leaders begin their new school year whether they are in new international or local context, understanding the culture will be crucial to success.

Taking time to stop and reflect, to process observations and information can support success. If you are a leader in a new context take some time to pause and ask yourself these questions.

Who are some key people that I can go to when I have questions, need perspective or support?
Who are the “official” and “unofficial” leaders in the community?

What traditions, norms, beliefs and events are important to this community?
What can I read or learn about this new culture?
What are the expectations of staff, students, parents and the board for school leaders?

Where can I go in the community to gather insight and information about the culture(s)?
Where can I go in the community to build relationships and to learn about my staff, students and families?

When is it okay to suggest or make changes?
When do important events and celebrations take place in the community?

How do I continue to learn about my new cultural context?
How do I go about gathering information, observations and perspectives?
How do I effectively communicate with the different cultural groups within my new context?

It is important to take the time to observe, inquiry, and investigate the complexities of your new culture. What has worked for you as a leader in one context may not directly translate or apply in your new community. Stepping back and taking some time for reflection can lead to greater success.

What are you learning?

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