Ethnic Diversity and Leadership

tapestryI recently have had the privilege of getting to know several leaders who come from different ethnic cultures. Our organization has identified a group of current leaders who have the qualities and potential to lead at ten times their current scope of leadership.

For the next two years they will be involved in leadership development training called the Senior Leader Initiative (SLI). I have played a small part by giving some of these leaders feedback in areas of Emotional Intelligence (EQi), 360 Reviews and StrengthsFinder (using CoreClarity).

This process has raised some questions for me.

What does leadership look like from culture to culture?

Do leadership qualities differ in other cultures?

Do assessments take those differences into consideration?

I recently read Gilbert Kingsley’s blog. He says,

“It would be a mistake to think that what looks like leadership in one culture will necessarily be leadership in another ethnic culture. And a greater mistake would be to miss what that ethnic community values as leadership.”

During a previous Senior Leadership Initiative, several staff (Renee Begay, Stuart Dodds, Shawn Faulkner, Marc Henkel, David Marshall, and Tony Wee) did some really good work on ethnic diversity and leadership. I suggest you download and read “Top 10 Leadership Qualities of Ethnic Minorities.”

Here is one example of what you will find:

Christina Magdalenda and Lucas Lopez in Destino listed these ten leadership qualities in their Hispanic culture:

  1. Not self seeking but sacrificial for the benefit of those being led
  2. Listener
  3. Proactive
  4. Invites and considers the concerns of the familia and includes them in the decision making process
  5. Perseverance in face of adversity
  6. Celebrate the success of our familia/people, encouraging them to greatness
  7. Teachable (able to learn from those who have gone before them in leadership)
  8. Transparency (able to open up once trust is established)
  9. Forgiving (Not easily offended)
  10. Learner – Values process over results and efficiency

How are these qualities similar to those in your own culture?

How are they different?

We increasingly work with leaders from ethnically diverse cultures, so why not download this helpful 4-page resource, “Top 10 Leadership Qualities of Ethnic Minorities.” It has helped give me more awareness of the different leadership qualities in cultures other than my own. There are great resources and links for developing cultural intelligence which helps us be more effective leaders wherever we serve.

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with my wife, Terry. We have been married for 36 years and have 4 grown children. I have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously, and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right sidebar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit:
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7 Responses to Ethnic Diversity and Leadership

  1. daylerogers says:

    Thank you so much for highlighting this very obvious need–and our majority culture quite obvious overlook. I think what I appreciate most about the difference in the leadership qualities of different cultures is that, if we could gather them all together, all different cultural leadership values, we’d probably have a pretty good picture of the what the body of Christ should look like. How we should serve one another. How we should consider each other better than ourselves. Well said, Steverino!

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Dayle. You are absolutely right. I think that most of our assessments have a majority culture bias. How do we take that into consideration as we assess and develop leadership from minority cultures? And yes, as you mention, celebrate the differences because we are all needed. Thanks for continuing the conversation!

  2. Thanks for the tip of the hat. Blessings.

  3. Anne Marie Winz says:

    Steve, your post is insightful. As I look at Christina and Lucas’ leadership qualities, I notice that many of them revolve around building and valuing relationships. I don’t see concepts like setting goals or identifying objectives and outcomes in their list. How do you think this relates to our current conversations about diversity?

    • Steve Morgan says:

      That is a great question Anne Marie. Thanks for reading and engaging with me on this. You have made a very good observation. When we were in Mexico, our most fruitful teams were mixed teams of Mexican and STINT/ICS for the U.S. Each culture brought something unique to the team that helped move the mission forward. It was definitely harder and messier, but in the end, it was worth it for the growth of the individuals and the growth of the mission. We are all needed in leadership. I have read studies of increased profitability in companies where there are women on the board of directors. Women, other ethnicities, white males each bring a unique piece to the team. One without the other is incomplete. I am glad we are having this conversation. Thanks for engaging.

  4. Michael Tarr says:


    Thank you for your article. Along with ethnic diversity at the surface level, what do you teach for deep-level diversity (Phillips & Gully, 2014), where goals, values, skills and attitudes come into play, broadening the scope?
    While leadership qualities do differ in other cultures, crossing cultures within a team can be difficult. I believe that regardless of culture, ethical leaders should not be ethical dictators, but as Christ exampled for us, they should be shepherds who lead. I think that this is one of the greatest reasons the analogy of sheep was used so often in the Bible, rather than ducks, which have to be driven.
    Wisdom alone is not sufficient to be exemplified for leadership in diversity. To be truly a leader with a Christian worldview, the leader must first be found to be truly seeking the leading of God’s Spirit and hearing His voice, (Colson, 2015).

    Colson, C. (2015). Worldview: Biblical or Christian. Christian Worldview Journal. Retrieved 11/14/2015, from
    Phillips, J.M. & Gully, S.M. (2014). Organizational Behavior: Tools for Success. (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western

  5. Pingback: Looking in the Rear View Mirror and Asking “How Long?” | Leader Impact

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