Global Education Leaders

by Dr. Punita Rice Teaching

World map by population - Global education leaders

Teachers, do you identify as “global” education leaders? That is to say, are you effective in supporting students from all walks of life? Global leadership means effectively leading people from various cultures and backgrounds, and having an understanding of their particular needs and values… so global education leaders are those who can support and truly understand their diverse students. I think any teacher in a diverse setting can strive to be a global education leader. But there may be some challenges along the way. Here are some possible challenges and solutions for global education leaders…

Challenges global education leaders face

Global education leaders have to be good at intercultural communication with various cultural identities in a diverse learning environment. Because of that, I think there are a few significant challenges global education leaders face:

(1) Global education leaders need to have cultural-general knowledge (pertaining to all foreign cultures). And this can be bad, because it does not distinguish between unique cultures.

(2) It would be better to have culture-specific knowledge. Consequently, there can be a high demand on educators to be aware of the nuances of each cultural group they work with. This is aspirational but may not always be realistic.

(3) Also, developing teacher education based on existing research could present its own problems. This is especially true since most of  studies on global leadership are based on from research from Western or North American cultures… which means they draw on Western or North American cultural values (Paulienė, 2012).

Possible solutions to the challenges global education leaders face

Some of the challenges of global education leaders can be addressed by further education. Diversity in our teaching and learning environments provide extensive opportunities to help address these challenges. We can also try…

  • Implementing on-going training and education of educators (who should continue to grow as practitioners anyway)
  • Implementing incentives for teachers to stay up to date on relevant findings in multi-cultural education.
  • Training based on findings from project GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness)* could prove valuable.

*GLOBE gathers data from 61 different nations, and examines culture along nine different dimensions of leadership (House, Javidan, Hanges, & Dorfman, 2002). Different cultures have different values regarding major cultural concepts, like uncertainty avoidance, power distance, institutional collectivism, in-group collectivism, gender egalitarianism, assertiveness, future orientation, performance orientation, and humane orientation. Because of that, using GLOBE findings could give great insights into what leadership can and should look like to peoples of differing backgrounds (Čater, Land, & Szabo, 2013). This would allow for a more thorough and diverse examination of cultures and attributes of effective leadership from various international perspectives (and provide an international view of leadership attributes) (House, et al., 2002).



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House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., & Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe:  An introduction to project GLOBE. Journal of World Business, 37, 3-10. doi:10.1016/S1090-9516(01)00069-4

Čater, T., Lang, R., & Szabo, E. (2013). Values and leadership expectations of future managers: Theoretical basis and methodological approach of the GLOBE student project. Journal for East European Management Studies, 18, 442-462. Retrieved from

Paulienė, R. (2012). Transforming leadership styles and knowledge sharing in a multicultural context. Business, Management & Education / Verslas, Vadyba Ir Studijos, 10, 91-109. doi:10.3846/bme.2012.08



So teachers — do you identify as global education leaders? What do you think is the greatest challenge in successfully being one?

P.S. – Do you think Jane Elliott’s “blue eyed children vs. brown eyed children” lesson is still relevant today? And here’s a post about how culturally and linguistically diverse kids can have totally different language acquisition models depending on whether they’re native-born or foreign-born.

(Art from my old tumblr, from an era before proper attribution. If you know where this is from, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update!).

About the Author

Dr. Punita Rice

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Dr. Punita Rice is a wife and mama, an education researcher, a writer, the founder and director of ISAASE, and an advisor with Johns Hopkins University School of Education's Doctor of Education program. Her work centers around multicultural education and equity, and South Asian American experiences in school. You can read more about Punita and her work here. Punita also writes about life, culture, education, and motherhood here on her blog. She works from home in Maryland, and drinks a great deal of coffee.