Mapping Leadership Cultures;
JOURNAL ARTICLE | Harvard Business Review | 95 | July 2017
Being the Boss in Brussels, Boston, and Beijing: If you Want to Succeed, you’ll Need to Adapt
When misunderstandings arise among members of global teams, it’s often because managers conflate attitudes toward authority and attitudes toward decision making. However, the two are different dimensions of leadership culture, says the author, who has extensive research and consulting experience with global companies. Attitudes toward authority range from strongly hierarchical to strongly egalitarian. Approaches to decision making vary from top-down to consensual.The author explores both dimensions and classifies selected countries according to their position on both scales. The Japanese, for example, are hierarchical in their views toward authority— deferential to the boss and accustomed to waiting for instructions rather than taking the initiative—but they are consensual decision makers who get buy-in before they set a course of action.The author describes the four cultural types—consensual and egalitarian; consensual and hierarchical; top-down and hierarchical; and top-down and egalitarian—and the corresponding expectations about leadership in each environment. If you keep those in mind, you’ll be more successful in your cross-cultural interactions.