Globalization has allowed different cultures to understand one another, showing that there can be mutual understanding despite differences in business leadership. What is more important when conducting international business is that the people, especially leaders, should have enough flexibility to adapt their own business leadership style to the cultural context of their country.
The way people show respect to authority is inherent in their culture. The deference shown to elders and other persons of authority is learned at a young age, from parents, siblings and teachers. The same ideas on how to show respect is carried into adulthood, and can be seen by how people view the standard relationship with their subordinates and their boss. Thus, for someone who was raised in a culture where deference to authority is high, it is difficult to lead a team whose culture is egalitarian.
There is a definite distance between the boss and the subordinates, so it can be a dilemma when you are from a different culture. Will you be following the office hierarchy and how you can show your subordinates that you are their boss, their leader, their manager or their superior?
Example of following a business leader
The power distance between a boss and their subordinates depends on the culture as well. In many of the countries in East Asia, the power distance is greater. This is mainly due to the teachings of Confucianism, which is still ingrained in them. According to Confucius, mankind will have harmony with the world if each person understands his or her specific role in society and performs it. The influential Chinese philosopher created an interdependent relationship system, stating that they be obedient to people in the higher level, who in turn should mentor and protect the people in the lower levels. In this type of relationship, responsibility from each person is required.
It is called reciprocal obligation. And while the great philosopher from China has left this world eons ago, his doctrines are still followed by many, especially by cultures with hierarchal systems.
However, globalization opened the doors to the rest of the world, so a Chinese, Japanese or Korean manager may be leading a team of people from the West, who will definitely have their own responsibilities in following business protocol that are vastly different from their business leader.
Qualities of a business leader
What makes a good business leader? Some of the leadership qualities are universal, such as integrity, people skills and good judgment. However, these universal qualities are often mixed with characteristics that are culture specific because their theories of leadership vary. The success of being a business leader depends largely on the personality of the person and the ability to adapt to the changes in their own business environment.
When it comes to decision-making, two styles emerge. One is the synchronized leader, meaning the leader is good in following through. This style is very effective in Asia such as Japan, South Korea and China, as well as in Thailand, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. This type of business leader is prudent. He or she is also more concerned about potential threats.
The other type is the opportunistic leader. They are flexible and normally initiate the steps to reach their goal. This is more effective in many western countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. It is also adopted by countries that use the British model of business leadership, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and India. It should be noted that the opportunistic business leaders are often risk takers and ambitious.
2. Style of communication
Likewise, there are two styles of communication. The diplomatic leader employs finesse in communication and carefully constructs messages in order to get ahead and get along. In many Latin American countries, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand, people are more comfortable working with this type of communication from their leader.
The leader is often agreeable and polite and adjusts the messages to ensure that discussions are direct yet friendly, often gauging the reaction of the audience during meetings and negotiations.
The other type is the straight-shooting business leader. This type often confronts issues directly. In this context, the leader immediately addresses behaviors found undesirable. The leader likewise often conducts performance reviews spontaneously. For example, in the Netherlands, they prefer less talk and more action, as subordinates prefer their leader to get to the point quickly.
3. Coping skills
A business leader must have the right type of coping skills based on their culture. One type of business leader implements the guidelines issued by higher management and ensures that subordinates follow them. However, they can display extreme behaviors, where they can follow the mandate excessively and refuse to compromise. Many leaders like this are tolerated in South Korea, Kenya, Greece, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates, India and Turkey.
Another type of business leader is one who is passive-aggressive especially if under stress. The leader’s reaction is often due to the lack of proper agreement when told to perform a task or pursue a goal. They may show cooperation but can be resentful and critical. They maintain the obedience to ensure their career advancement. Indonesia and Malaysia are cultures where this type of leadership qualities is common.
Types of corporate business leadership
Now that you know the general qualities of business leaders in different countries, let’s look at the different types of business leadership in various parts of the globe. Generally, the leadership style is heavily influenced by their culture. You can surmise that a template for a global business leader will be very difficult to achieve, as it is hard to separate a people from their culture. But being flexible and willing to adapt are essential for success.
In a German organization, the chain of command for each company department is clearly defined. Instructions and information come from the top and disseminated to subordinates. The management structure is vertical but they also gather consensus. For the Germans, the leader should be vigilant in seeing that the order is carried out through continuous monitoring of a project’s progress.
Managers provide motivation to their staff by being one with them in following the given task. They are fair and show solidary with their staff by working long hours and obeying the regulations as well. The employees are comfortable with the scrutiny of their superiors because they know what they are supposed to do.
French managers are more autocratic. They are more roving compared to German managers and consult with technical staff, idle managers and rank and file employees although the decisions are made by senior executive. Orders come from the top and handed down to employees.
In France, some management blunders are tolerated and highly qualified business leaders are confident that they are difficult to replace. The structure in French company involves interdependence, teamwork, faith in their leader and mutual tolerance.
Japan used to follow Confucianism so company executives typically conform to the hierarchy. The top executives are rarely involved in the company’s daily activities. There will be instances when the top executives hand down orders and policies are the given to middle managers for dissemination to the workers.
In Japan, ideas often come from the lower level of employees who feel the company’s pulse. Signatures of middle managers and workers are collected to support the ideas, inventions and suggestions, to be given to the top executives. If the approval is sufficient, the top management gives the approval.
Business leaders in Spain are autocratic, just like in France. However, they rely more on intuition instead of logic. They display charisma and proud of their personal influence on all the members of the team. They are skilled in providing inspiration and know the act of persuasion. For them, it is not possible to reverse their decision.
Swedish business leaders are typically democratic and decentralized. They believe that when employees are well informed, their motivation is higher which equates to better performance. The hierarchy has fewer levels than their counterparts in Germany or France. Swedish managers are very accessible to their team. They are always willing to discuss. It is part of their culture and it is affirmed by a law which specifies that all important decisions should be discussed with all the company’s employees before implementation, which can delay the final decision.
6. United States
American business leaders are given the full authority and responsibility to manage their department. They are responsible for getting everything done, utilizing short cuts to realize revenues and in return, make themselves, their company and their shareholders prosperous. They are often optimistic, confident, action and goal oriented, aggressive and assertive. They are always thinking of their personal success.
The managers are able to display corporate spirit and teamwork but are also after their individual freedom. They are expected to act according to the responsibilities given to them and they act accordingly because they know they could be immediately fired if they commit mistakes.
7. United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, business managers are usually willing to compromise. They are often helpful, casual and diplomatic and try to be fair. However, if called for, they can be quite ruthless. They are usually traditionalists, so they can completely misunderstand that the values of other people are different.
Australian business leaders are often one with their mates. The system is more circular, which gives the feeling that no one is going to pull rank. Australian business managers are capable of making quick decisions. They are quick thinkers as well.
9. South Korea
Conglomerates in South Korea are often owned by families. Nepotism in South Korean companies is common, with the key positions, held by the owners’ sons, brothers, sons-in law, nephews and several male members of the extended family.
Chinese business leaders follow the directive of the people in higher position than them. They are expected to give the instructions to their direct subordinates who should disseminate the instructions down the company hierarchy as needed. The subordinates are not expected to questions the instructions and decisions made by top management because doing so means being disrespectful. Loss of face is very important to the Chinese so everyone is concerned that everything should be favorable and in order.
The business leaders are often seen as father figures. As such they should be granted respect and loyalty. In return the managers should look after the welfare and well-being of their subordinates.
In other countries
Other countries and regions have their own style of business leadership, which opens our eyes to global diversity. In Arab and Latin countries most of the authority rests on the chief executive and they consider family relations as important, which leads to nepotism. The same is true in India and Argentina.
In the Netherlands, the business leaders are chosen based on achievement, merit and competence. They are decisive and vigorous but decision-making relies on a consensus.
In Finnish companies, the setup is more democratic and middle managers can be tasked to make decisions for the daily affairs of the company. The business leaders can act decisively when needed and can work together with their staff when there is a crisis.
Business leaders in Norway have similar approach to their Finnish counterparts. While they exercise their accountability and responsibility as top executives, they are very accessible to their subordinates. They listen to the opinions and ideas of their middle managers.
It’s important to know the various business leadership styles from different cultures, as they will help you to adapt to international business. Whether you want to start a business of your own or plan to be employed by a multinational company, be sure that you are well informed. Doing so will make you flexible, which can lead to opportunities for success.
Ensuring delivery of the right message
In a multinational business environment, it is vital that information is understood by all people in their own language. So how do you do that? Translation is the solution. If you are dealing with colleagues and business partners who do not share one common language, it is essential to ensure that they can get the information correctly. With accurate business translations, you can ensure that the message is delivered and understood by the target readers. While some of your staff members may have a working knowledge of the language you use in the office, it is still important to have vital documents translated into their own language, for their safety and the safety of the company.
Trust the dedication and superior skills of the native speaking translators of Day Translations, Inc. to deliver the most accurate translation of whatever type of document you have. Our subject matter experts have years of experience in their field of expertise and have deep knowledge and understanding of the required terminology for whatever industry you are in. We are available 24/7, every day of the year so you can reach us anytime, wherever you are located. You can send us an email at Contact us or give us a call at 1-800-969-6853, whichever is more convenient for you. Day Translations works with more than 100 languages and has a full suite of language services for you to choose from.
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