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Value of Relationships, Listening, and Applying Intercultural Skills

Pearls of Wisdom
By Erika Egawa
Value of Relationships, Listening, and Applying Intercultural Skills

For over 30 years international school leaders, teachers, and counselors have come together for PTC professional learning experiences. Each day of every program begins with a “pearl of wisdom,” a “nugget of knowledge,” or a “gem of inspiration” from one of the participants. We are delighted to offer our readers around the world these powerful stories, insights, and strategies, all dedicated to our shared mission of ever more and better learning for our children.  

In this Pearl, Erika offers advice for those new to leadership. “Value the relationships you are building with your colleagues while keeping in mind that listening as a leader carries deeper implications and requires intentional application of intercultural competencies.”

She says that when she began her new role, she wanted to be a leader that proactively created a culture of belonging and dignity by being visible and present. However, she quickly learned that listening as a friend and colleague was not the same as listening as a leader. She shares five pieces of advice she learned over her first year in a new leadership position.

  1. Set boundaries and consider to what extent you can realistically help.
  2. Be careful that empathy and curiosity are not construed as agreement.
  3. With your leadership title comes a power dynamic. In every conversation, you must recognize how your comments might be perceived through the lens of this power dynamic.
  4. Be aware of varying styles of conflict and understand how the person on the receiving end might respond to feedback based on their cultural background, experience, and perspective.
  5. Listen with the mindset that every conversation has the power to be transformative.

Professional positions cited were the ones held at the time of recording. The positions and schools of those quoted may have since changed.

Erika Egawa is the Middle School Assistant Principal at Seisen International School.


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