Leading across cultures

In the work environment, unexpected misunderstandings often arise as a result of cultural differences in leadership styles. Americans, for example, see themselves as egalitarian and think of the Japanese as hierarchical. But American leadership seems to be unclear. This is mainly because American bosses are outwardly egalitarian—relating with subordinates on a first name basis and encouraging them to participate in meetings—they can be extremely top-down in the way they make decisions.

It's very common for people of different cultures to struggle with mutual incomprehension. The main reason for this is managers' failure to differentiate between two important aspects of leadership culture.

The first of these is authority or hierarchy. This involves paying attention to a person's rank or status and how much respect the person receives. In this regard, the Japanese are more hierarchical than Americans. However, the second aspect, decision making, is the opposite. Whether it's the boss who makes the decision or it's the team, this is not clear. In relation to this aspect of leadership Americans are less consensual than the Japanese.

How would you describe the leadership style of your company? What about your style? Do Homework
Do you agree with the author's generalisation of Japan and the U.S. in terms of leadership style? Edit Homework
Imagine a colleague of yours goes to the U.S. to work. Considering American culture, how would advise your colleague to lead their staff and deal with their own managers? Do Homework