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Leadership has meaning only in an organizational context, and only in the sense of on managing within a system of inequalities. Superior-subordinate relationships help to define leadership behavior, and the culture in any particular society influences the nature of these relationships. Two leadership roles are common to all societies, however. The first is the Charismatic role, or the capability to provide vision and inspiration. This emphasized by transformational leadership concepts. The second is the instrumental role, or the capability to design effective organizational processes, control activities, and meet organizational objectives. This describes the functional expectations of someone is a leadership role. However, each society determines the relative importance of each role and therefore what makes a good leader.
Cross-cultural research has identified a pattern of characteristics common to effective leaders in these two roles, but these commonalities do not constitute shared traits. They include:
· Conscientiousness Dependability, achievement orientation, and perseverance within the scope of one’s responsibilities
· Extroversion Open, accessible attitude, as opposed to remaining insulated from group activities
· Dominance Appropriate use of authority in a system of inequalities
· Self-confidence Comfort in one’s own skills and abilities for managing
Recent research has also suggested that regardless of cultural contingencies, effective leaders tend to display intelligence, energy, emotional stability, and openness to experience. In the international context, this last characteristic encourages cultural sensitivity without ethnocentric imposition.
Each society assigns unique meanings for most of these characteristics, and consequently their importance varies in all societies. For example, Mainland Chinese people agree with those in the United States that perseverance is an essential attribute of a conscientious manager, but the two societies do not interpret achievement in the same way; unlike Americans the Chinese ascribe little value to individual success. Other terms, such a dominance, carry value-loaded and controversial meanings, but the root meaning of accepting the mantle of leadership is worldwide.
In confronting such shared attitudes, researchers have focused on how leadership roles vary across cultures and how these characteristics of leadership behavior are interpreted abroad. As this section reviews example, bear in mind that cross-cultural research is seldom meant to epitomize one cultural pattern of leadership as superior that can help international managers to function effectively in foreign societies.
European Leadership Behavior
Countries in Europe have made significant progress toward consolidating the European Union (EU), but many unresolved issues remain. Not least among the EU problems is the difficulty of managing multicultural organizations within the region. Although EU unification of commercial regulations and labor laws has dominated government and company agendas, the actual activities of leading companies in this complicated environment have received little attention. The obvious question is whether a common European leadership approach will emerge from the economic union or whether leadership practices will remain culturally bound to each nation. One group of observers expects that as Europe’s nations converge economically, a hybrid form of leadership will replace individual cultural practices. An opposed group asserts that cultural values are so ingrained that any effort to consolidate management practices will meet strong resistance. They firmly believe that leadership behavior will remain differentiated in each nation. From a U.S. perspective, it is easy to speak of “European methods” as some common stream of consciousness, but research in Europe leaves no doubt that leadership behavior varies substantially among the individual countries. A recent study as Ashridge Management College in the United Kingdom surveyed senior managers in 14 European countries to compare leadership behavior and concluded:
Such is the cultural diversity of Europe, that at this moment there is no single model or theory of leadership which is capable of taking into account the complete range of national values… Leadership as a concept is either not as it is the United States, or, it occurs but within different paradigmatic boundaries. Clearly, it is not as “romanticized” in Europe as in American cultural life.
The Ashridge study found vast differences in perspectives among European countries. At one end of the spectrum, managers from France nearly unanimously defined leadership and management as the same thing. Those from Belgium concurred, but with as somewhat less unified voice.
Respondents from these countries viewed managers as leaders leaders by the rights and responsibilities inherent in their positions. Managers, they suggested, hold their positions because they are
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Leadership, Economy, Industrial and organizational psychology, Education, Politics, Organizational behavior, Transformational leadership, Governance in higher education, Management, Cross-cultural leadership, Global Leadership
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