from October 2008 Newsletter (Volume 3, Issue 3)
Our visiting Maasai leaders Sabore Oyie and Hellen Nkuraiya spoke with several business groups in California on the topic of “Leadership Values that Transcend Cultural and Global Boundaries.” In sessions with Genentech, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, Sequoia Benefits Group and others, they shared their leadership values, challenges, and approaches. And guess what—they’re very similar to those faced by American leaders. On the surface, the way we dress, speak or live could convince us that we are more different than alike, and facing problems that each other can’t relate to. But in fact, we’re all people working toward the same human goals of peace, health and happiness for our families, communities, and workplaces.
While technologies vary, the root opportunities and challenges are similar – adapting to changes in the environment by explaining to key stakeholders why change and adaptation are in their interest. From the Maasai standpoint, this means helping elders understand that educating Maasai children will yield more cows in the future than their current emphasis on “cow now” in exchanging girls for cows as dowry. In corporate America, this means bridging differences in perspectives among staff members so that you can coordinate the vision for the future of the business and execute that vision more efficiently and effectively.
Sabore and Hellen shared their values as leaders, citing respect as number one. Some of the other values and approaches shared across the cultures include:
Establishing common ground, understanding of the other’s perspective, and exploring alternatives from a common view.
- Building trust and empathy first.
- Starting by accurately describing the challenge and consequences.
- Describing the destination – in terms that appeal to the listener.
- Using stories or examples of how others benefited from a change.
- Learning about other cultures, and alternative ways to see the future.
- Role modeling new alternatives.
Leadership discussions across cultures The way this plays out in each culture looks different, but the basics are the same.
Sabore and Hellen emphasized that no community will be prepared to solve their own problems and build the strength of their internal leadership without education. Students today, from nursery through secondary, are the leaders of tomorrow. They rely on support from Asante Africa Foundation and others to fuel this investment in their future.
Corporations are a key funding source for education in East Africa, through corporate donations and individuals who have the opportunity to select a charity for donation during their corporate giving campaign. Check out whether your employer has a corporate matching or grant opportunity, and choose Asante Africa Foundation as your charity. If you discover opportunities for grants that we can apply for, pass along the information and we’ll pursue it.