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Leading Inclusively: Anthony Bourdain

Updated: Aug 12, 2018

Leading Inclusively: Anthony Bourdain

When you think of a role model for cultural competence, an outspoken and sometimes combative celebrity chef may not immediately come to mind. However, because he chose to showcase his culinary passions by introducing an audience of millions to the customs of people around the world, his role as an unofficial cultural ambassador is arguably the most important aspect of Anthony Bourdain’s legacy. 

“I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.” Anthony Bourdain

A large part of Mr. Bourdain’s success lay in his willingness to disrupt the traditional cooking show protocol. He didn’t remain in his comfort zone and attempt to replicate intercultural cuisine. Nor did he invite chefs from other cultures to come to his kitchens to share their expertise. Instead, he traveled around the world and showcased real people authentically preparing meals in their native environment. His disruptive approach to an established genre garnered excellent ratings and ad revenue for his network, international fame, profit and accolades for his product, and distinguished his brand in a very competitive field.  

What is your passion?  

Mr. Bourdain is an example of a person who parlayed his passion for food to become a cultural ambassador to millions.  His authentically inclusive leadership style modeled the attributes of cultural awareness, engagement, empowerment, and achievement through the universal human desire for nourishment. He placed himself and others in uncomfortable situations, including and beyond food experimentation. He forged forward and brought others along in the journey. The world is better for his courage and leadership.

What is your passion?  Whatever you may be into -  physical fitness, the arts, traveling – chances are that many others from all walks of life share this passion as well. Common interests and shared experiences is an excellent way to forge authentic connections with people from different backgrounds. How can you use your passion to increase your cultural competence?

Wherever you are is where your journey begins.

While most of our passports will never bear as many stamps as Anthony Bourdain’s, societal and technological advancements have made it easier to interact with people around the world. For many of us, the evolving demands of the 21st-century marketplace have made it an imperative for us to attain and refine effective cultural competence.

Anthony Bourdain’s shows were clearly provocative and culturally diverse in subject matter but what is most important is the diversity of people he worked with to tell those stories. Not necessarily the people who had their fifteen minutes of fame in a single episode doing entertaining and unusual things but more importantly the people he worked with to bring the stories to the public. Those are the relationships that were important. He offered an opportunity for involvement and exposure to culturally diverse people in a difficult industry to break through. He had real and meaningful collaborations.

There are resources to help you on your way. First, the Leading Inclusively assessment will help you objectively determine your current cultural competency by measuring four attributes essential for high performing teams and organizations: Awareness, Engagement, Empowerment, and Achievement. 

Second, register for The Master Class Part III - Leading with the Hands, a free workshop being held Wednesday, August 22, 2018, from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM PDT.   Building on the self-awareness obtained from the assessment, the workshop is designed to prepare you to become an effective agent for change. Participating will help you to further develop your strengths, work on your areas of discomfort, and discover pragmatic strategies to promote effective and measurable D&I policies and procedures that support your organization’s business strategy in the 21st-century marketplace.

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