Great Leadership Across Cultures - Main

Each country has a unique trait that makes them shine. Something that goes beyond religion, language, music, beliefs, traditions and behavior - we call it “culture”. But beyond that, culture is one of the great factors that binds employees together in an organization. In Tupper’s interview with Schein (2014), 90% of a leaders’ behavior is actually driven by cultural rules and not personality.

Did you know that a leader’s culture plays a vital role in an organization? What a leader stands for, needs or values that drives a leader’s decision-making are significantly influencing the culture of an organization, department or team (Barett, 1996). So maybe it’s best to ask, “what type of leader do we need?”

This is actually where the top executive search firms come in because they are good at finding the “perfect match” for an organization. But before we jump to signing contracts, let’s grab some working knowledge first on how great leadership is defined cross cultures. Let’s start with Asians!

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Asians

In a study conducted by Human Capital Leadership Institute in 2017, the success of Asian leaders was associated with its cultural values that emphasized familial ties and social classes. Perhaps this is also the reason why family-owned businesses in Asian countries are successful.

In addition, the words “paternalistic”, “hierarchical” and “feudalistic” were consistently mentioned as different leaders were interviewed and asked about the leaders of some Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam (Chee Tung Leong, 2017). Maybe this explains also why it is an undeniable trait of most Asian leaders to have an excessive deference or sudden attention to detail when reporting up, and issuing directives or refusing to compromise when commanding subordinates. So, if you want to find a leader that values respect for higher ups and caring for the heart and emotion of employees, go hire an Asian! 

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Americans

Americans on the other hand are known for their strong personality – direct to the point and firm. But it’s not a negative thing at all. In fact, these traits helped them get things done faster. In addition, they are also known for being directive, participative and empowering as they deal with their subordinates (Mills, 2005). That’s why great leadership for them is all about inspiring people to aim high and dream big. This then turns the workplace to an amazingly blazing esteem carrying each other to another level of efficiency. So if you prefer to have this type of leader, westerners like Americans can be your best choice.

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Africans

Leaders in Africa are often seen as someone who is “a servant to the clan, tribe, community or group. In other words, African people treat a leader by virtue of being a king, priest or ruler chosen by virtue of the office in order to serve the nation” (Masango, 2002). Being a servant-leader may it be in a tribe or in an organization, their charisma and empathy are evident (Manlan, 2017). For them, leadership is not all about power or authority but genuine care for people. And like most textbooks and lecturers would teach us, caring for your people helps an organization succeed, therefore, making you a remarkable leader.

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Indians

According to David Everhart (2008), a Managing Director for Leadership Development Services in Korn/Ferry International, Indian leaders are known for being “directive and hierarchical than their Western counterparts”. They are also less concerned about appearing open to the input of others and building consensus”. He also added that Indian leaders nowadays are “entrepreneurial and highly-educated talent base”. On his study, it appeared that these qualities contributed to Indian leaders’ success in organizations for their leadership approach inclined to be more strategic and at par with other cultures’ “Best-in-class” leaders. Given that, you might also consider an Indian-type of leadership in your organization too!

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Being loyal to one’s culture is actually good but embracing diversity is better. No matter what culture a leader is a part of, one thing for sure is it is something “flexible and diverse” (Zimmerman, 2017). The society’s demands are now growing and increasing and it is by embracing diversity that we will be able to grasp the different perspective to find the perfect approach to manage one’s organization.

Source:

  • https://www.valuescentre.com/mapping-values/barrett-model
    https://www.tlnt.com/culture-and-leadership-theyre-simply-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/cheetung/2017/06/20/why-asias-leaders-still-have-to-become-global-leaders/#2e6b17ab5652
  • https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/asian-and-american-leadership-styles-how-are-they-unique
  • http://mo.ibrahim.foundation/news/2017/leadership-three-qualities-21st-century-leader-africa/
  • https://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/10593/Masango_Leadership%282002%29.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
  • https://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/leadership-style-and-power-tactics-of-gandhi-history-essay.php
  • Essays, UK. (November 2018). Leadership Style And Power Tactics Of Gandhi History Essay. Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/leadership-style-and-power-tactics-of-gandhi-history-essay.php?vref=1
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About the Author:

Kezia Munar Author

Hi, I'm Kezia. I joined RGF Executive Search Philippines as a Human Resources and Administrative Officer. My passion is to conduct dynamic team building programs for the youth and adults through seminars and employee engagement activities. If you want to share your thoughts about my article, connect with me and I'd be happy to discuss it with you!

Posted On 2019-03-26