Global & Culturally Diverse Leadership in the 21st Century

By Jean Lau Chin and Joseph E. Trimble

Jean Lau ChinJean Lau Chin, EdD, ABPP is a professor at Adelphi University in New York, and was the 2018 Fulbright Scholar and Distinguished Chair to the University of Sydney, Australia for her research on global and diverse leadership. She has held leadership roles as Dean at Adelphi University, Systemwide Dean at Alliant International University, Executive Director of South Cove Community Health Center and Co-Director of Thom Mental Health Clinic. Her scholarship on diversity leadership, women’s issues, diversity and cultural competence, and psychotherapy includes 18 books and many publications. She is the first Asian American to be licensed as a psychologist in Massachusetts.

Joseph E. TrimbleJoseph E. Trimble, PhD, is Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology; and Research Associate, Center for Cross-Cultural Research at Western Washington University. His career has focused on promoting psychological and sociocultural research with indigenous populations, especially American Indians and Alaska Natives. A highly decorated teacher, Trimble has held offices in many associations and received the Lifetime Distinguished Career Award from the American Psychological Association's Division 45. Outside the academy, he has served on numerous scientific review committees and research panels for federal agencies such as NIAAA, NIH, and National Academy of Sciences, among others. He has presented over 180 papers and invited addresses and generated over 150 publications, including 22 authored or edited books.

Chin and Trimble are co-editors with Joseph Garcia of ILA’s 2017 volume
Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership: New Dimensions and Challenges for Business, Education, and Society.

Today we live in increasingly diverse communities characterized by rapid and significant social change. Technological advances and greater mobility have created a growing demographic of diverse, global citizens. What do these changes mean for leadership? Will our future leaders reflect the cultural diversity of the people, organizations, and communities they lead? Will they be responsive to rapid change, prepared to lead this emerging population, and practiced in ways that resonate culturally with those they lead?

Reexamining 21st Century Leadership

Our changing world calls into question any leadership model that omits ethnic and racial groups while fostering ethnocentric, gender-biased agendas. If we are to prepare our future leaders to lead and serve a diverse workforce and clientele we must ask important questions: What are we teaching our future leaders about effective leadership? Are they demonstrably prepared to lead the workforce and clientele they will encounter? Can our current leadership models be generalized to different populations? In short, how do we prepare ourselves, our communities, and our leaders to live, work, and practice in the realities of the future (Trimble & Chin, 2019)? To explore these questions and more, we are initiating a newsletter series focused on culturally diverse leadership in the 21st century. The purpose of the series is to offer new paradigms and identify new dimensions in our understanding and exercise of leadership. It will offer new insights on inclusive leadership that we hope will challenge readers to move toward a post-industrial, post-colonial, global view of leadership.

New Priorities for Leadership

It is time to reexamine leadership from a 21st century perspective. We know what worked for an industrial age that emphasized making products in assembly line factories, namely, top-down hierarchical male-dominated leadership. We know much less about leadership in a digital age that emphasizes information and services for heterogenous members and clients (Chin, 2009, 2010; Chin & Trimble, 2014; Chin, Trimble, & Garcia, 2017). For our current body of leadership knowledge to have relevance and solid applicability today, new priorities for research, teaching, and practice urgently need to be explored and developed.

With the growing population diversity and mobility throughout the world, leaders and their groups will find themselves in more heterogeneous organizations and communities than ever before. This demands that leadership theories and research become more inclusive and robust or risk becoming irrelevant. People throughout the world will need to grapple with the question of who best can lead them. Must our leaders look like us and share the beliefs and values of the prevailing majority? Or, are there different leadership styles that lead to greater cultural understanding and healthier leader-follower relationships? How do we prepare ourselves to live, work, and lead in a world when we don’t know the skills we will need or the environments we will face as new and different leadership skills prove necessary?

These are but a few questions the newsletter will explore.

Challenging “Idealized” Leadership Models

Future newsletter articles will challenge existing notions of leadership. Personal narratives and case studies of diverse leadership styles will illustrate the importance cultural diversity plays in our lives, communities, and workplaces. Current leadership training models often presume one ideal type of leader. This “idealized model” of masculinized leadership still prevails in corporations, higher education, science, and religious and political sectors. In recent years, however, changes are occurring as more women and people from different ethnocultural backgrounds emerge in leadership ranks (Mor Barak 2011), measured in part by the growing number of CEOs and corporate directorships within Fortune 500 companies. However, Zweigenhaft and Domhoff (2006) reported these new and diverse leaders often become more like those already in power. Is this still the case or are we finding more diversity in how leaders lead in this new era?

Towards a New Vision

Through the use of narratives, case studies, and summaries of research findings we will explore how the different world views and lived experiences of leaders influence their leadership style; the inclusiveness of social justice and ethical and cultural values not typically included in the mainstream Eurocentric dialogue about leadership; how social identities of leaders (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity) intersect with leader identities and may result in biases that influence perceptions, shape leader behaviors, and influence appraisals of leader effectiveness; and the exchange between diverse leaders and diverse followers and between leaders and diverse contexts that shape the enactment of leadership.

Additionally, we will solicit and publish short informative summaries dealing with various topics in the field. These may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Gender variations in leadership styles.
  • Female leadership from a cross-nation perspective.
  • Teaching diverse and inclusive leadership to students from various ethnocultural backgrounds.
  • Culturally competent leadership in a variety of institutional, industrial, and business organizations.
  • Ethics and moral leadership in multicultural environments.
  • The value, theory, and applications of cultural intelligence in leadership.
  • Cultural perspectives, styles, and character of the global leader.
  • Latinx leadership: Similarities and difference across countries where Spanish is the dominant language.
  • Shared social identity in leadership.
  • Race, ethnicity, and culture within leadership theory and research design and procedures.
  • Religious leaders and the influences of cultural sensitivity and identity in various ethnocultural settings.
  • Ethnocultural perspectives on persuasion and influence in leadership practices.
  • Indigenous collectivist leadership styles.
  • Personal narratives and storytelling in communicating authentic leadership.
  • Current and emerging patterns of Muslim leadership.
  • Probing leadership from ethnocultural perspectives in higher education.
  • Sustainable, culturally competent approaches to institutional leadership.
  • Examples of cross-cultural leadership studies and educational programs in higher education.
  • Reinvigorating conversations about leadership: What do readers want to know?

Ongoing Research

As part of the International Leadership Network, whose members are conducting ongoing research using qualitative narrative and quantitative measures, we have interviewed a sample of 175 culturally diverse leaders. Our study findings will expand our understanding of leadership and contribute to a new paradigm of global leadership. Future newsletter editions will use these findings to include non-dominant views of leadership that draw on cultural values of collectivism, benevolence, and familial affiliations (Chin & Trimble, 2014). These findings also will be used to enhance dialogue regarding different perspectives on the same leadership phenomena, for example, examining virtue in leadership from philosophical and ethical principles vs. empirical validation; comparing effective leadership using collective vs. individual orientations; using non-Western metaphors such as Daoist principles to define the process of leadership; considering alternative perceptions of the self as interdependent; and assessing communication practices and styles across diverse groups.

While attention to ethnocultural diversity is growing, that attention has often undervalued representation of diverse leaders within the ranks of leadership (Turnbull, Case, Edwards, Schedlitzki, & Simpson, 2012; Chin, Trimble, & Garcia, 2017). This newsletter series intends to reverse this under-representation by focusing on the value culturally diverse leaders and leadership bring to honoring different worldviews. Each column will contribute to understanding successful leadership in unique cultural settings and capture the influence group differences and effective diverse leadership can have in the world at large.

If you would like to propose a column, please contact Soohyun Kim at soohyunkim@mail.adelphi.edu. Invitations also will be extended to various researchers and scholars in the field of cultural diversity and leadership for inclusion in this newsletter series.


Chin, J. L. (2009). Diversity in Mind and in Action. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, ABC-CLIO.

Chin, J. L. (2010). Special Issue: Diversity and Leadership. American Psychologist, 65(3), 150-226.

Chin, J. L. & Trimble, J. E. (2014). Diversity and Leadership. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Chin, J. L., Trimble, J. E. & Garcia, J. E. (Eds.). (2017). Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership: New Dimensions and Challenges for Business, Education, and Society. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Mor Barak, M. E. (2011). Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Trimble, J. E. & Chin, J. L. (2019). Editorial: Exploring Culturally Diverse Leadership Styles: A Mindset and Multicultural Journey. Social Behavior Research and Practice - Open Journal, 4(1), e1-e2.

Turnbull, S., Case, P., Edwards, G., Schedlitzki, D., & Simpson, P. (Eds) (2012). Worldly Leadership: Alternative Wisdoms for a Complex World. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zweigenhaft, R. L. & Domhoff, N. (2006). Diversity in the Power Elite: How It Happened, Why It Matters. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Author Note: Jean Lau Chin, EdD, ABPP, Professor of Psychology, Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology, Adelphi University and Joseph E. Trimble, PhD, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, Western Washington University. Correspondence concerning newsletter articles and themes should be addressed to Jean Lau Chin. Email: chin@adelphi.edu, Telephone: 516.877.4185 or Joseph E. Trimble. Email: trimble@wwu.edu; Telephone: 360-650-3058. The authors’ surnames are listed in alphabetic order. Each author has contributed equally to the content of the introduction and forthcoming newsletter material.