Culture significantly influences how the following statements are made, and in particular, how people respond to them.
Learning how other cultures define and express leadership is crucial in gaining and maintaining market share for any business trying to expand its operations beyond its own borders. Such intangible concepts can only be grasped through stepping back and examining the cultural underpinnings of another’s background and development.
It is often easier to emphasise individual leadership traits in helping us define the type of leadership a particular situation might need. But this is becoming increasingly inadequate as we interact with organizations in different countries.
In Global Business Leadership, E. S. Wibbeke addresses the importance of valuing intercultural perspectives and compares leadership definitions between eastern (collective, holistic, spirituality-based) and western cultures (hierarchical, authority-based, and individualistic).[i] For example,
All of this to confirm that leadership is not the same in every culture.
It should come as no surprise that the words we use to define leadership in our own culture can often send mixed signals and cause no shortage of misunderstandings and offense when dealing with people from a different ethnic origin.
Understanding this challenge, and how we respond, has wide-reaching implications for how effective we are in building strategic business relationships and profitable businesses outside our current borders.
[i] E. S. Wibbeke, Global Business Leadership (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemanne, 2009), 18.