In today’s world, more and more people travel, work and live in countries other than their own. Companies recognise that collaboration and innovation are more critical than ever. This guest webinar is presented as a taster session of a book recently launched, “Secrets of Working Across Five Continents: Thriving Through the Power of Cultural Diversity.” The book itself covers four specific areas: 1) Visionary and Authentic Leadership 2) Nurturing People and Culture 3) Innovative Design and Creation 4) Inspiring Communication and Relationships.

In this webinar, Chris Igwe, the co-author of the first section, “Visionary and Authentic Leadership,” spoke about the importance of Authentic Leadership and emotional intelligence and how to use it successfully.


Based on interviews with over 145 individuals, the book weaves together stories told by individuals from 110 countries who have lived and worked in at least two countries.

This book seeks to inspire the reader, invite reflection, and nurture curiosity and appreciation for those who are different from ourselves. Collectively, the authors and editors equip readers with the tools to embrace the richness and beauty brought by diversity and ultimately engage with the critical skills for thriving in today’s fast-paced, highly interconnected, and interdependent world.

Who were the contributors?

As Chris explains, the book’s contributors are from all parts of the globe, including Cuba, Mongolia, Gabon, and Uzbekistan. Moreover, they are leaders from different industries and fields: entrepreneurs, corporate executives, female, male, CEOs, to project leaders.

Chris clarifies that the objective for the section he wrote was to breakdown ‘leadership’ and explain it in all its many facts, using different lenses. In addition, exploring emotional intelligence and how to use it successfully.

Setting the stage

Fundamentally, Chris and his co-contributors begin with the premise that we travel, live, and work more than we ever did. Moreover, innovation and diversity play a more significant role in our lives and are mutually reinforcing: diversity drives innovation and innovation drives diversity. In addition, collaboration is ever more important as no one individual organization (or nation) alone can find solutions to the challenges facing humanity. The more you collaborate, the more you understand each other. At a nation-state level, collaboration fosters peace and development.

Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is when different races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, languages, nationalities, socioeconomic statuses, genders, religions, and/or sexual orientations are well represented within a community.

Globalization is one of the driving forces of cultural diversity in the workplace. The modern workforce comprises people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, religions, and nationalities.

Cultural diversity benefits the workplace because people from various backgrounds have different perspectives. Their contribution to the business allows the group to look at problems from all different angles. The results are often innovative. Chris contends that we often think that cultural diversity is about separation when it is about being closer and together.


As Chris explains, there several understandings of leadership. One definition explains it as the “action of leading a group of people or an organization.” However, Chris argues that this is not a satisfactory description. Another definition describes leadership as the “art of motivating a group of people towards a common goal.” The key words there being motivation and common goal. To Chris, leadership is about both the leader and the follower becoming better. For example, as a leader, you have to take people with you when you climb a mountain. The idea is not to scale the mountain on your own. The idea is to help others to scale the mountain.

However, leadership is not management. Moreover, leadership requires accountability, because as a leader, you are accountable to others. This is because leadership is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, if you have that privilege, you are accountable to those that you are leading.

Authentic leadership

Next, Chris focused on authentic leadership. Chris argues that “not every leader is authentic.” One of the fundamental components of authenticity is integrity. Authentic leadership is one type of management style in which leaders practice genuine and transparent behaviour to build relationships and foster trust. Authentic leadership is a style of leadership that emphasizes a leader’s transparency, genuineness and honesty within the workplace. Authentic leaders can build strong and honest relationships with these behaviors in which the team members trust and follow the leader.

Visionary leadership

Chris explains that the other component of authenticity is visionary leadership. People need a vision. One of the key things of being a visionary and setting a vision is that you are setting something that will improve the company for future generations. Some examples of visionary leaders include Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson. A visionary leader is an individual who sees the potential for how the world should exist and then takes steps to get there. With this style, by its very nature, leaders have visions and missions that people buy into, inspired by the direction it will take them now and in the future. Visionary leaders see the world differently, help others see the vision and turn the vision into reality.

For example, Chris explains that Natalie Bayfield had a vision she wanted to bring forward to allow a training programme to be communicated and available to the real estate industry. That is a vision she set out and has manifested, with Sonia leading it from the front.

Emotional intelligence

Chris describes emotional intelligence as the secret sauce. It has only recently been accepted that emotional intelligence is a key component of leadership. Daniel Goleman (1995) describes the four core values that make up emotional intelligence as: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Thus, emotional intelligence can be understood as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.


To conclude, Chris describes the key components of leadership: patience, acceptance, openness of heart and minds, cultural sensitivity, honesty, courage and decisiveness. For example, patience is an easy thing to talk about, but it is extremely difficult to practice. Moreover, it is a quality often lacking in today’s leaders. True leaders recognize that patience enables them to take stock of the situation, understand what is required, and wait while building the capacity to take appropriate and effective action. By demonstrating patience, leaders reinforce the importance of focusing on long-term outcomes. Patience doesn’t mean ignoring the interim milestones or short-term deliverable. It does mean keeping them in context.

Furthermore, a foundational element of navigating today’s interconnected world is cultural diversity. Efficient organizational leaders understand that respecting and emphasizing diversity in the workplace allows different perspectives and experiences to come together. They also demonstrate how the fusion of diverse worldviews, ideas, actions and decisions produces a variety of benefits for their organizations. Finally, Chris argues that of all the aspects of strong leadership that will determine the most successful leaders of today, the key is being visionary and authentic and having a high degree of emotional intelligence, mixed with empathy.