Have you ever read academic analyses on different cultural norms and hierarchies and decision-making processes in different cultures (in this case, I’m linking to an article that means “nations” when they say “cultures” – it’s a good example.)?
I love trying to wrap my head around the charts – they’re meant to be obvious, I assume, but I find them anything but. The upshot of that is a good reminder to me of how challenging it can be to truly understand different ways of working within the world. We in the US tend to do a terrible job of appreciating other forms of leadership, particularly any that don’t place individualism as a top priority.
Check out the diagrams from Richard Lewis’ “When Cultures Collide” – it’s not just a fun exercise to expand your understanding of management alternatives, it’ll expand your understanding of management alternatives!
Mr. Lewis describes American managers as “assertive, aggressive, goal and action oriented, confident, vigorous, optimistic and ready for change. They are capable of teamwork and corporate spirit, but they value individual freedom and their first interest is in furthering their own career.”
In the event that this doesn’t describe you or your workplace, some of these alternatives may help you appreciate how very many other systems are out there, and you can look to this cross-cultural literature to help you bridge the gap between you and your American workplace.