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Leveraging Cultural Competence As Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

There is no one more unique than you.

Recognizing my logic teeters dangerously close to Dr. Seuss, your organization’s culture uniquely defines why you do, what you do. The passion in which you embrace these unique customs, values, and beliefs throughout your daily performance reflects who you are.

The embodiment of these represents cultural competence, which remains your most unique strategic competitive advantage. The natural question is: How?

Every successful endeavor begins with intention, and leveraging cultural competence is no exception. It requires precision alignment with your organization’s overall purpose, and awareness of what separates you from your competition . . . which is very little in most cases.

Consider the following elements within a performance landscape:

Talent Selection - Skill Development - Consistent Execution - Cultural Competence

Distinguishing your product or service relies on customers or clients viewing their experience from a different perspective . . . a cultural perspective propagated through the behaviors of you and your team. Steps taken within each element enhance this overall process as you prepare to leverage cultural competence.

Talent Selection

You aren’t necessarily looking for the best players, you’re looking for kindred souls who share your vision and aspirations for how an experience should look and feel.

Your culture resonates with these Soul Proprietors, and they willingly invest their hopes and dreams in pursuit of an ultimate objective. Explore evidence of thinking both collectively and creatively through behavior-based interview questions, you’ll need a combination of both to realize your team’s true potential.

Skill Development

Hiring the right talent begins the equation . . . it does not guarantee competent performance. Invest in continuous skill development, both professional and personal. The landscape will continue to evolve, and it will be imperative for you to keep pace.

Do not rely on your talent’s own initiative to accomplish this. Left with the responsibility of developing new skills and abilities on their own, your talent may begin wondering if their skills would be better appreciated somewhere else.

Consistent Execution

Consistent execution is the result of effort, centered on standard expectations, and confirmed through quality controls and monitoring. Not hovering or micro-managing; simple and straightforward accountability encouraging everyone to do their jobs. Remember that dreams and aspirations without strategic processes remain just that . . . a destination you may never reach.

Cultural Competence

Bringing the intangible qualities of a culture forward into the cognitive realm of skill and behavior competency adds an extra dimension to individual performance. Tasks are executed with greater confidence and efficiency. Parity is removed as you now have an advantage your competition cannot match.

The question remains how do we promote cultural competence and breed greater confidence? Begin with the following suggestions:

Start From the Top

Leveraging cultural competence requires a team effort, and as a leader, you’re leading the charge.

Business owners and executive leaders must make role modeling culture the highest priority. Not simply from a watch what I do aspect, but a proactive display of what your culture represents. Use your presence to recognize behaviors that promote proper application of values and highlight enhanced performance.

Address opportunities to improve as appropriate . . . what’s accepted becomes expected, so reinforce the importance of proper cultural execution.

Daily Affirmations

Your vision, mission, and core values have incredible influence on an operation . . . they speak directly to why you do what you do. My advice is to make them part of your daily dialogue.

Re-visit at least one individual element of your culture every day. Describe why it makes you unique, what purpose it serves, and generate discussion around how it can be utilized to improve your work and customer experience.

Ideally, this will occur during a daily huddle or pre-shift meeting. Use a morning e-mail blast, daily newsletter, or other suitable communication tools to supplement your in-person efforts. Create a pocket card that employees can carry with them, and reference when appropriate.

Bottom line is keeping the discussion lively and engaging, promoting what your team needs to keep improving.

Work First, Then Play

Organizations will often have more information regarding their history, core values, and overall vision available on their public websites than they do through internal communication channels. Many environments are peppered with employment guidelines and other work-related collateral . . . which is important.

But the smiles and positive attitudes that transform ordinary experiences into memorable moments begin in the heart of the house. Balance required employment information with cultural collateral to support the environment you want to promote.

The pride and confidence instilled through cultural competence will then bubble over from work to . . . play. Delivering personalized service becomes second nature, a sense of pride and joy emanating from a unique set of customs, values, and beliefs. Work becomes fun, with exceeding expectations only the beginning of something very special.

Once this is shared with your customers or clients, cultural competence becomes your competitive advantage.


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