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Developing Leadership Capacity in a Culturally Diverse Workforce

McDonald, T. A., Kwok, C. & Russell, F., 2014



Background: Management and leadership can be difficult. People can experience negative consequences when moving into management roles and so may resist making the transition. They take on more responsibilities and burdens and may feel isolated and alone. The culturally diverse workforce provides added challenges for leadership - the leaders themselves recognising their own cultural influences and also understanding the diverse cultural identities of their staff. Organisations invest many resources into developing staff for leadership roles, but do these leadership programs actually bring about a change in the future leaders? Do they result in better managers and leaders?

Objective: The aim Evaluating a leadership program to determine change in participants

Methods: The program involved attendance at three two-day workshops over a period of 4 months. As well as face-to-face sessions, the participants completed tasks and written exercises between sessions and kept a journal of relevant activities such as coaching examples; a crucial conversation; or thoughts about their leadership style and triggers. They also met regularly with their mentors and completed a major project which they presented to the other participants and all mentors.

A pre and post intervention survey was used to monitor for changes in particular leadership attributes in people undertaking a leadership development program. Quantitative and thematic analysis of data ensured reliability and usefulness of research outputs.

The Transformational Leadership questionnaire was adapted from Sashkin, M. (1997) Visionary Leadership, Washington DC, George Washington University. It invited participants to consider a list of statements referring to how they might behave towards others when they are in a leadership role. The Sashkin (1997) questionnaire is designed to focus on major aspects of leadership that have been associated through research with transformational leadership qualities. Scores can range from 4 to 20 on each leader behaviour pattern, reflecting the extent to which a participant prefers or actually engages in a particular behaviour.

Results: In all 6 thematic areas the mean responses before the program were below or equal to 16 and all changed to be greater than or equal to 16 after the leadership program was completed.

Conclusions: In summary, the group experienced significant changes in their understanding of leadership between undertaking the pre-intervention survey and the post-intervention survey.

The results will be discussed and the change within the 6 different themes further explained and considered. The implications of using a tool such as this questionnaire to evaluate the value of leadership programs will also be discussed.

CITATION McDonald, T. Kwok, C. & Russell, F. (2014) Developing leadership capacity in a culturally diverse workplace. Series of workshops held at Veterans’ Retirement Village, Narrabeen Sydney Australia.


Last updated 18/11/2019
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