Cross-cultural leadership

From CEOpedia | Management online
(Redirected from Cross cultural leader)

Currently, there are thousands of existed markets and each of them has a specific characteristic, which has to be considered before entering it. And these markets differ with their culture, negotiation and business management styles. Therefore, more companies require managers, which can lead international projects and lead the multinational groups.

These leaders are required for different reasons, such as penetrating the market, merging with other companies or transferring the manufacturing process, but all of these processes are impossible without cross cultural leadership.

The main requirements for a person, who is an international leader are being effective, efficient, be able to work with such a diverse team. The first two factors can be met in every job description, however; the last one has much deeper meaning that it can look like. Working with a team consisted of individuals different nations automatically require the knowledge of the culture, personalities, history and the values of people working with you.

Cross cultural leadership problems

One of the biggest problems at the beginning that can be faced is communication. Before a manager start explaining any task or details, one has to be sure that the words, methods and definitions are same for both people, as it can turn out later that your expectations will be much different from the outputs.

There is a small story about cross cultural management, which sounds the next way - "One man has hired the worker from a different country to paint his porch near the house. He asked the man to colour his black porch by evening, when he will come back from restaurant. The builder just nodded with his head and told that everything will be done by the deadline. In the evening the owner of the house came back and saw that the porch is still black and nothing had changed. The man asked the worker, why the porch is still not painted. The builder just answered: ‘I have colored your Porsche and by the way it was not black, but white?’" This small story shows how the words and their pronunciation can turn the tide of the whole task.

Hoftstede’s cultural dimensions theory

Hoftstede's cultural dimensions theory is usually taking into a consideration, as it is based on countries values and customs. This theory may help international managers to overcome the barriers and find the best approach to the employee. The theory is divided on six indices that show the effect of the culture on the behavior and values. The factors are next: Power distance index, Individualism vs. collectivism, Uncertainty avoidance, Masculinity vs. femininity, Long-term orientation vs. short term orientation and Indulgence vs. restraint index.

Power distance index shows the distribution of the power equally, this means how people are used to an authorities and what type of structure do they prefer. The second index is about working together in the team and having a common goals or rather being concentrated on the individual goals, and working alone. Uncertainty avoidance can be connected with the decision making process in management, how people react to ambiguity and how they perceive it.

Masculinity vs. femininity is about the values cared by women, which can be reflected in their behavior and competitiveness, for instance. Long term vs. short term factor is about the ambitions of the country, traditions that people save, and the role of these traditions in the minds of people. Indulgence and restraint factor can be observed as the factor of happiness in the countries. Treating all these indices with respect and with the proper use of all these information, a manager can build the perfect plan, atmosphere and conditions for cooperation in the specific country. In this case, the cooperation will be effective and efficient, bringing both parties satisfaction from the work.

Cross cultural leader role

Good cross cultural leader should know how to find the best approach to the specific country, how to analyze the values, behavior and motivation of the people. Depending on how the leader will try to destroy the barrier between the employee and himself depend the performance of the duties. It is highly important to be aware of the personality type of the person and his personal goals, as it can be used for supporting him in the project or motivating him to do the job better.

Cross cultural leaders are tending to be good in case if they have faced the cultural shock at least one or two times in their life. In this case, such a person is familiar of the traps can be prepared at the beginning of the cooperation. This leader has a vision of the main factors should be discussed and the most important what person should be hired. Human resources is very important in international projects, as manager should be confident about who one wants to hire and what advantages and disadvantages will this person have due to his culture and values. That is why cross cultural leader is significant in international business.

Cross cultural leader is a person, who knows the main issues can be face, knows how to overcome them, what people should be hired and how the people from different nations can be transformed into one team, which has a synergy.

Examples of Cross-cultural leadership

  • Building trust across cultures: It is important to build trust between teams in different cultures. One way to do this is through developing personal relationships, such as having meals together, going on team outings, or engaging in other activities that can deepen connections. A leader must also be aware of potential cultural differences that may lead to misunderstandings and make sure to communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Developing a global mindset: A leader must be open to different perspectives and be able to think outside their own cultural viewpoint. This can be achieved by staying informed on news and events from around the world, studying different cultures, and engaging in intercultural dialogue.
  • Developing empathy: A leader must be able to understand the needs and perspectives of people from different cultures. This can be achieved by listening to and respecting different opinions and engaging in active discussions. A leader should also be willing to learn and understand different cultural customs and practices.
  • Adapting to different contexts: A leader must be able to adapt to different contexts and situations. This includes being aware of different communication styles and cultural expectations, as well as being able to adjust their own style to be more effective in different contexts. A leader should also be able to adjust their expectations and goals to meet the needs of different cultures.

Advantages of Cross-cultural leadership

An introduction to the advantages of cross-cultural leadership is that it can help to bridge cultural differences and foster collaboration between disparate groups. The following are some of the advantages of cross-cultural leadership:

  • Improved understanding of different cultures: Cross-cultural leadership encourages leaders to learn about the cultural backgrounds, values, expectations, and norms of their colleagues, allowing them to develop a better understanding of the unique elements of their team.
  • Increased efficiency: With a greater understanding of cultural nuances, teams can work more efficiently and effectively by better understanding how to communicate, interact, and collaborate with each other.
  • Increased employee engagement: When employees feel accepted and respected for their cultural differences, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and feel a sense of belonging within the group.
  • Improved problem-solving skills: By understanding each other’s cultural perspectives, teams can come up with more creative and innovative solutions to problems.
  • Enhanced team collaboration: Cross-cultural leadership encourages team members to share their unique perspectives, opinions, and ideas, leading to more effective collaboration.
  • Greater awareness of global markets: Cross-cultural leadership provides a greater understanding of the global market, allowing leaders to be better prepared to compete in an international setting.

Limitations of Cross-cultural leadership

Cross-cultural leadership can be challenging due to the following limitations:

  • Difficulty in understanding cultural norms and expectations: Different cultures have different norms and expectations regarding communication, decision-making, and leadership styles. This can make it difficult for a leader to understand the cultural dynamics of the team.
  • Language barriers: The language barrier can be a significant problem in cross-cultural leadership as it can hinder effective communication.
  • Different working styles: Different cultures may have different working styles which can make it difficult for a leader to develop an effective team.
  • Different values: Different cultures have different values which can impact the way a leader approaches different tasks and decisions.
  • Different perspectives: Different cultures have different perspectives which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Difficulty in building trust: Building trust can be difficult in a cross-cultural setting due to the different cultural norms and expectations.

Other approaches related to Cross-cultural leadership

To further develop the skill of cross-cultural leadership, there are several approaches that can be taken. These include:

  • Developing cross-cultural communication skills: This involves learning how to effectively communicate across cultures and understanding how to interpret body language, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues. Training in intercultural communication can help leaders become more aware of cultural differences and how to bridge the gap between different perspectives.
  • Building relationships of trust: This involves building relationships with people from different cultures and developing trust through active listening and mutual respect. Leaders should strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for open dialogue and collaboration.
  • Understanding different perspectives: Leaders should strive to understand different perspectives and how cultures view the world differently. This includes understanding different values and beliefs, as well as developing an awareness of the historical and political context of different cultures.
  • Adapting to different scenarios: Leaders should be able to adjust their approach and strategies to fit different scenarios. This involves understanding the different needs of the team and being able to adjust the leadership style to fit the situation.

Overall, cross-cultural leadership involves understanding different perspectives, developing communication skills, building relationships of trust, and adapting to different scenarios. It is an important skill to have in order to effectively lead a team in an increasingly globalized world.

Cross-cultural leadershiprecommended articles
Ability to work in a teamCharismatic leadershipLeadership competenciesInterpersonal communication skillsCore valuesDelegative leadershipAdvantages of team workInternal motivationBelbin team role inventory


Author: Nikita Shtemenko