“Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.”
—Dr. Seuss in Oh, the Places You’ll Go
The jury is in on being dexterous and deft.
Dexterity and deftness with regard to diversity and inclusion bring tangible business payoffs: increased creativity and productivity, new attitudes and communication skills, more encompassing perspectives, new processes and solutions, greater agility and flexibility, innovation, and improved employee recruitment and retention.
Gaining the benefits of diversity requires heeding renowned author Dr. Seuss’s advice and building proficiency in a new business skill: cultural dexterity. Cultural dexterity combines cultural knowledge (culture, for our purpose here, is understood as the ways of living that are the bedrock of a person’s identity and are defined by the groups one belongs to), emotional intelligence, and adapting interpersonal skills.
Cultural dexterity requires deftness in:
- building a basic understanding of a culture and how it influences workplace attitudes and behaviors;
- recognizing one’s own cultural preferences, openness to learning about others’ cultures, and adapting one’s interpersonal style as needed to establish trust and generate inclusiveness;
- applying new cultural awareness in rethinking and revising work approaches to achieve positive business results for all stakeholders.
Engaging in the deft activities of discovery, adaptation, and creation of approaches that apply to any cultural setting and business challenge is cultural dexterity.
Developing cultural dexterity, particularly among leaders, is a crucial step in retaining top talent and optimizing team performance. Cultural dexterity tills the soil of diversity so that individuals, and, by extension, the business, flourish.
Take that sage advice from Dr. Seuss: “Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.”
Joe Abel, CPCC, ACC, PhD, is HFMA’s director of career strategies. He is certified as a professional career coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).