Optimizing Your Leadership During Cultural Changes – Nu Leadership Series

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Let’s explore how leaders operate within a changing social climate. Good leaders make decisions within a cultural framework. This Emergent Workforce, the new workforce that will replace the massive exodus of the Baby Boomer retirees, will challenge the current organizational paradigms. Therefore, leaders should examine their decisions through these cultural constraints. Although some leaders understand the characteristics of Generation X and Echo Boomer employees, many managers are ignorant about subcultures such as Hip Hop.

First, let’s vigilantly examine this Hip Hop phenomena. Routinely, outsiders view Hip Hop as a narrow-focus culture, containing gangsta rap and vulgar music videos. On the contrary, Hip Hop refers to a counterculture movement with its Black roots which includes music, fashion, and political activism. Smith and Jackson, Hip Hop experts, argue that the Hip Hop culture is a major influence in the world today which challenges the thinking of many traditional institutions.

Second, as a valuable leader, you need to understand how this subculture affects your employees and your relationships with them. Postmodern influences are clearly seen in urban subculture where its followers are characterized by (a) questioning everything, (b) viewing truth as relative, (c)valuing relationships over institutions, and (d) valuing the ability of storytelling. Therefore, Smith and Jackson advocate that organizational leaders need to be real, relevant, and respectful to gain credibility with this subculture. Given this premise, organizations should adopt the following recommendations to improve the value system gap between leaders and followers: (a) share corporate values, (b) assist employees with self discovery, and (c) model the way of proper cultural values.

Finally, this multi-ethnic movement as defined by Hip Hop, creates many oxymorons. For example, the number one rapper was a White male while the number one golfer was an Asian-Black male. Unfortunately, some youth who feel mistreated and ignored by society carry rage within them. From rural to global communities, Hip Hop influences leadership thought in youth. Scholars and traditional managers have simply ignored its significance. However, effective leaders who gain a unique understanding of cultural events can turn this knowledge of subcultures into a competitive advantage. Start today!

Lovett, Bobby (February 24, 2005). Conversation with Dr. Lovett, Tennessee State University historian, at the BIG Scholarship Luncheon, Tennessee, about the Hip Hop Generation with Daryl Green.

Smith, E. & Jackson, P. (2005). The Hip Hop Church. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press.

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

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green