As the Chair of Volkswagen South Africa, Martina tells us that she is constantly reminded that leadership is more than just managing day-to-day operations. The decisions we make as leaders have a ripple effect that extends beyond direct reports and impacts the families of employees and suppliers. In a multicultural environment, understanding and navigating cultural nuances are essential for effective leadership.

Martina has had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the importance of cultural adaptation in leadership during her time at Volkswagen South Africa

Recognising the Impact of Your Role

Martina emphasises the need for leaders to be humble and recognise the impact of their role in a multicultural environment. When she took on the role as Chair of Volkswagen South Africa, she inherited over 6,000 employees and realised that the decisions impacted not only those employees but also their families and suppliers. It was a humbling experience that made her understand the need for leaders to recognise the impact of their role on the people around them.

The Importance of Exposure to Different Cultures

Being exposed to different cultures allows leaders to learn about themselves and their own culture while also appreciating and respecting other cultures. It was Martina’s priority to immerse herself in the local culture and learn from her colleagues. By doing so, she has been able to build stronger relationships with her team and gain a better understanding of the challenges they face.

Cultural Adaptability is Key in Leadership

As leaders, we must recognise that leadership roles extend far beyond the daily tasks we manage. We impact the lives of those around us, and in a multicultural environment, this impact is even greater. Cultural adaptation is crucial in leadership, and it’s a trait that all leaders should strive to develop. By being humble and recognising our impact and being exposed to different cultures, we can lead more effectively and build stronger relationships with our teams.