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that performed best were more homogenous; from the
same cultural background. However, what was most in-
teresting was that the multi-cultural teams that had high-
ly effective leaders out-performed the homogenous
teams. What those of us involved with global organisa-
tions can take from these results is that our multi-
cultural teams need highly effective and culturally di-
verse leaders.
From her research Maznevski has offered some insight
into how to lead a diverse team. She talks about what she
calls MBI – Mapping, Bridging and Inte-
grating. Mapping is when a leader really
learns to understand the differences that
exist between the different cultural nu-
ances of their team members. Bridging is
when that leader is able to communicate
across those differences, so, for example,
creating a vision for the future where the
communication style and approach is
clearly understood by all. Finally, integra-
tion of the team is where the leader is able to
manage the differences of the team at all levels
and through time.
For me the word that rings out here is inclusion. To be
able to map, bridge and integrate, we, as leaders, have to
be inclusive in everything we do. Inclusion requires us to
have self-awareness so that we are able to understand
ourselves and our own national and corporate cultural
background and experiences, by learning about other
I have reviewed
Fish Can’t See Water
by Kai Hammerich
& Richard Lewis in this edition of Voice. In the book, the
authors talk about business leaders finding it difficult to
see their own cultural programming when looking in the
mirror. To us we are normal, and it is only when we look
at others that we see the differences. It is much easier to
be inclusive if you recognise you are different in their
eyes and that differences are to be celebrated not ridi-
culed. As Beth Brooke says in her article ‘The Art of De-
veloping Truly Global Leaders’ (Harvard Business Review
November 2012):
Unless a company also thinks about the art of global lead-
ership, it will never reach its full potential on the world
By “art” I mean values and habits that are hard to measure
or instil through some step-by-step process but that show
up unmistakably in great companies’ cultures. I’m talking
about a commitment to inclusive leadership. Leaders who
create high-performing teams that are greater than the
sum of the parts value difference as opposed to merely tol-
erating it. They are curious about other cultures and know
to check their assumptions. They encourage discussion,
actively engage conflicting points of view, and inspire
teams to think creatively, all while pursuing a common
So be inclusive, be curious and be encouraging. It seems
to work.
By Karen Frost
Director of Coaching at Values Based Leadership
Book Review
Fish Can’t See Water
Kai Hammerich & Richard Lewis
This seemed like a bit of a strange title for a book on corpo-
rate culture, but on reflection I think it is perfect. The idea
the book promotes is simple; national culture has a powerful
but often invisible impact on the success of global compa-
nies. So, as leaders we need to ask ourselves; can we see our
own cultural environment? Or, are we like fish and unable to
see how our personal and organisational cultural traits influ-
ence what we do and how we do it?
The book helps us, as leaders and managers of companies, to
understand our own cultural programming, and then under-
stand the differences of other national
and corporate cultures, so that we
hopefully make better business deci-
Fish Can’t See Water
also makes one
very important assumption; that the
vast majority of business organisa-
tions have national culture at the
heart of their corporate culture. In my
experience of working with global
companies with diverse cultural
teams, I support this assumption.
Whether you agree or disagree with the assumption, I think
this is a fabulous read. Especially so if you are a manager
from one culture working for a multinational organisation
whose origins and history are embedded in another culture.
It gives the reader the opportunity to raise their own self -
awareness through some strong cultural models, plenty of
examples and some interesting case studies that help to ex-
plore what the look and the feel of the water actually is.
Have a look at this link for a more detailed overview of this
great book:
Reviewed by Karen Frost
Director of Coaching Values Based Leadership
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
It is much easier to be inclusive if you
recognise you are different in their
eyes and that differences are to be
celebrated not ridiculed.”