MBA students took part in a thought-provoking exploration to shed light on the complexities of leadership within diverse cultural contexts.

Have you ever found yourself in a room full of people and thought to yourself, “These people are from another planet”? Then you have experienced what the cohort did last week in the leadership stream as we explored the link between leadership and culture through the Alpha Beta game with Professors Zhike Lei and Katharina Lange.

Split into two teams, we inhabited the contrasting worlds of planet Alpha and planet Beta, each with their unique societal norms. Through this immersive experience, we sent visitors back and forth between the planets, aiming to bridge the gap and understand the intricacies of each society.

From left to right: Carlotta Schwarz, Felix Hechl, David Hobbs, Katia Hobbs (MBA partner),Georg Hammer, Beatriz Monreal at the Musee Cantonal de Belles-arts

What happens when you arrive in a new culture that you know nothing about? How do you interact with people who have different values, or who speak different languages? What assumptions have you made about their culture?

The session highlighted how, when you find yourself in a different culture with a different value system, you can feel excluded, scared, and even become resentful and mean – no matter your background. It is essential to integrate this understanding into our leadership styles.

Throughout the IMD MBA experience, we have reinforced our understanding of cultural differences and how to manage them. With a cohort representing 44 different nationalities, the profound differences between our backgrounds quickly became apparent. These differences play a pivotal role in shaping how we collaborate, communicate, and interact with one another and are a great source of learning for us.

In the auditorium with diverse classmates

As we delve deeper into the dynamics of culture and leadership, it becomes increasingly evident that effective leadership transcends borders and requires a deep appreciation and understanding of diverse cultural perspectives.

Embracing cultural diversity not only enriches our personal experiences but also equips us with invaluable skills to navigate the complexities of the global business landscape. Through continuous reflection and engagement with diverse cultures, we are better equipped to lead with empathy, agility, and inclusivity, fostering environments where every individual can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives to collective success.


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