Analysis of Cross-Cultural Leadership Competencies for United States Military Leaders: A Study of United States Military Security Assistance Officers in Cairo, Egypt

This study examined the essential cross-cultural leadership competencies military leaders need in order to be successful in their roles as Security
Assistance Officers (SAO). The adequacy or inadequacy of the SAOs’ cross-cultural leadership competencies were investigated to determine how the
presence or absence of these competencies affect host nation personnel at the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. This study utilized a mixed-method approach in order to gain a better understanding of the cross-cultural leadership competencies of military leaders. For the quantitative portion of this study, the Global Competencies Inventory (GCI) was administered in order to access SAOs’ perceptions of their own cross-cultural leadership competencies. An in-depth, open-ended, conversational-style, guided interview was administered to the Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) to gain deeper understanding of the most effective and least cross-cultural leadership competencies exhibited by SAOs.

The quantitative data were collected via the GCI on-line survey. Thirty two SAOs responded for a 70% response rate. Interviews were conducted with six FSNs who responded to the quantitative portion of the study. Parametric statistical tests were used to analyze the quantitative data, and themes and patterns were identified in the qualitative data. This study determined the SAOs possess an adequate level of overall cross-cultural leadership competency with a few caveats. Areas of weakness included tolerance of ambiguity, social flexibility, self-awareness, and emotional sensitivity competencies. The SAOs scored exceptionally high in the self management overarching dimension, and the self-identity and self-confidence competencies. In addition, this study revealed that favoritism, family, humor, and fairness were newly discovered themes associated with the SAOs’ cross-cultural leadership that positively and negatively affected the FSNs. Researchers are encouraged to replicate this study using a larger representative sample across the various U.S. embassies in the Middle East.