Leading Effectively in a Postmodern Culture – Nu Leadership Series

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leader, you think you’ve got it under control. Do you really? Today’s media heavily influences our organizational values. Please now carefully follow my trail and watch your step. Recently, the Oscars, labeled the greatest showcase of entertainment, highlighted several cultural shifts. Some Oscar winners included Crash (best picture) and Brokeback Mountain (several Oscars). Crash focused on racial and social prejudices while Brokeback Mountain depicted a homosexual relationship. TransAmerica, a story of a conservative trans-sexual, was also spotlighted. The causal observer may not care; however, organizational leaders shouldn’t ignore these cultural implications.

Let’s explore leader-follower value systems. Leaders inspire followers under cultural constraints. Postmodernism, a 20th century term, focuses on a multi-cultural movement that rejects absolute truths (pluralism), universal stories, and traditional concepts like religion. Many bosses ignore the influence of pop-culture on their organizations. They feel protected because they exist in a traditional, controlled environment. However, postmodernism attacks the very heart of tradition.

Let’s analyze a traditional institution such as the church and the effect of Postmodernism on it. Kelm, author of Understanding and Addressing a Postmodern Culture, argues that post-Christian culture influences are far-reaching. For example, Christians are often making value decisions on the basis of intuition and reasoning rather than using a biblical framework.

Therefore, management should not get too comfortable in believing they are exempt from these cultural influences. What, then, are the organizational impacts? Postmodernism has employees, who are more cynical and pessimistic, debating what’s right. Today’s leaders shouldn’t ignore this postmodern movement and its value consequences in organizations. Leaders should get to know their employees personally, understand cultural changes, and help their organizations adjust. Start today!

CNN. (2006). Best picture goes to gritty drama ‘Crash.’ Received on March 6, 2006 on

Kelm, P. (January 21, 1999). Understanding and Addressing a Postmodern Culture. Presented to the Board for Parish Services.
Wikipedia.org (2006). Book Review on Revolution. Received on February 28, 2006 on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism#The_development_of_postmodernism.

Wren, D. (1994). The Evolution of Management Thought. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green