2.1 Cross-cultural context
Leaders are increasingly required to lead multicultural teams, sometimes spread across the world, and different cultures take a different approach to leadership. Excerpts from a series of interviews conducted by House et al. (1997, pp. 535–6) highlight the following:
- The Dutch place emphasis on egalitarianism and are sceptical about the value of leadership.
- Iranians seek power and strength in their leaders.
- The Malaysian leader is expected to behave in a manner that is humble, modest, and dignified.
- The French appreciate two kinds of leaders. (…) a strong charismatic leader [or] (…) a consensus builder, coalition former, and effective negotiator.
- The Americans appreciate two kinds of leaders. They seek empowerment from leaders who grant autonomy and delegate authority to subordinates. They also respect the bold, forceful, confident, and risk-taking leader.
In a multicultural team, it helps if a leader is aware of potential cultural sensitivities.