Regional leaders expected to brainstorm on fresh challenges facing the 21st century bosses, and what they can do to stay ahead of the curve.
By Boniface Otieno Kanyamwaya
Kenya will,in March 2017, host theIntercultural Agility Summit (IAS), the first of its kindin Africa.
The summit, whichis targetingbusiness leaders, including CEOs, managers, and heads of institutions in both public and private sector in the east Africa region, seeks to address the intercultural question in the workplace.
It comes at a time when globalisation is said to be posing new challenges to the 21st-century leaders.
According to the 2016 African Regional Integration Report by UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the East African Community (EAC) is the top performer in integration in Africa, with factors such as increased free movement of labour in the region contributing to this success.
The integration progress has, however, come with cultural shock for the majority of workers operating away from home and an even tougher call for heads of businesses to manage this diverse workforce.
The movement of human capital across east Africa coupled with the entry of multinationals in the region and transfer of human resource has introduced diversity dynamics in the workplaces, dictating new leadership approaches.
“In an increasingly globalised world where boundaries no longer hold, leading across cultures can still be quite challenging for even the most seasoned leader,” says Lex Lindeman, the co-organiser of the summit and managing partner at HR Boosters, a training and management culture consultancy company in Africa.
Facilitated by seasoned cross-cultural expert and founder of Clever Culture Communication, Sheriff Abligeh, the summit’s approach will provide a balance of structured input and discussion of case studies, critical incidents, and scenarios relevant to participants’ own particular contexts. The summit is a follow-up of similar successful ones that have been held in Europe and Asia.
“This summit is about story telling. There will be no lectures or presentations. It will be about getting success factors as far as intercultural relations in the offices and handling them by executives is concerned while also sharing the hiccups that the leaders face,” says Lindeman.
Key among the topics to be explored in the summit include why modern day executives need intercultural skills, culture clashes in the workplace, and the way towards an effective resolution, the perceived nexus between culture, training, performance, and personal experiences by different heads on dealing with different cultures in the workplace.
“The summit focuses on assisting leaders to address diversity dynamics in multicultural workplaces as well as cross-cultural interactions and to demonstrate how to use both methods and approaches to foster a rich working environment and embrace diversity as an advantage as a 21st century executive,” says Erick Ngala, co-organiser of the summit and managing partner at Priority Activator Consulting, a consortium of specialists who offer human capital, management advisory services, and training and development.
According to a 2014 study by the University of London – which interviewed 28 global CEOs across 12countries and leading companies ranging from less than 10 employees to over 200,000 training CEOs, intercultural competencies had a potential impact on leaders and their companies, including decision making, conflict and negotiation, and market entry.
About the organisers
Abligeh, facilitator of the summit, is a skilled cross-cultural consultant and an expert on sub-Saharan African (business) cultures and social protocol.
He has extensive experience in working with high-level executives. Abligeh’s training experience includes clients from a range of industries including oil and gas, food and beverages, wholesale and retail, trading, security and manufacturing. His understanding of both Western and African cultures makes him a valuable asset to his clients.
Lindeman, a co-organiser of the summit, has over 25 years of experience in management and leadership training. He currently coaches and develops managers, leaders and talent of a myriad of disciplines in both western and non-western cultures from Americas, Far East, Central Asia, Central Europe, and Africa.
Ngala, also a co-organiser of the summit, is certified professional trainer, performance management specialist, strategy and business management advisor, leadership and team development expert with over 11 years of experience in training.