Resources for Leaders

The Culturally Proficient Administrator

What qualities and beliefs form a strong, culturally proficient leader?

This is a description of the culturally proficient behavior of someone who works using the five essential elements of cultural proficiency. As you read it, think about how you would describe the specific culturally proficient behaviors of someone in your profession.

  • Assesses culture. The culturally proficient administrator is aware of her own culture and the effect it may have on the people in her work setting. She learns about the culture of the organization and the cultures of its clients, and she anticipates how they will interact with, conflict with, and enhance one another.
  • Values diversity. The culturally proficient administrator welcomes a diverse group of clients into the work setting and appreciates the challenges that diversity brings. He shares this appreciation with other clients, developing a learning community with them.
  • Manages the dynamics of difference. The culturally proficient administrator recognizes that conflict is a normal and natural part of life. She develops skills to manage conflict in a positive way. She also helps clients to understand that what appears to be clashes in personalities may in fact be conflicts in culture.
  • Adapts to diversity. The culturally proficient administrator commits to the continuous learning that is necessary to deal with the issues caused by differences. He enhances the substance and structure of his work so that all of it is informed by the guiding principles of cultural proficiency.
  • Institutionalizes cultural knowledge. The culturally proficient administrator works to influence the culture of her organization so that its policies and practices are informed by the guiding principles of cultural proficiency, She also takes advantage of teachable moments to share cultural knowledge about her colleagues, their managers, the clients and the communities from which they come. She creates opportunities for these groups to learn about one another, to engage in ways that honor who they are, and to  challenge them to be more.

From Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, Fourth Edition, Randall B. Linsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Raymond D. Terrell, Delores B. Linsey, 2019