Quick Tips: Leadership Styles in Different Cultures

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.

What it means to soften your edges with questions

There’s a great little essay making the rounds on HowlRound, which you probably haven’t read unless you’re a theater academic or practitioner.  But it’s a good one, and while it’s a meditation on some of the awkward and undercutting choices that female theater directors are prone to making, you’re likely to recognize yourself in there, regardless of specific profession.

Language Worth Repeating, by Jess K. Smith Read more

A nun calls it like it is

I don’t remember how I happened upon this essay, but it’s been sitting in my bookmarks for over a month in the “you really need to blog about this” queue, and today’s the day I’m ready to talk about it.  The title is grabbing: Even nuns get violent in meetings.  That’s right, I linked to it twice, because I want you to read it.  Really.

It’s worth a read to remind yourself about the value of truly working on your leadership skills as a way of building yourself into the leader you aspire to become, rather than the too often implicit focus of building your resume and inching up in an unreformed hierarchy that pervades leadership books and blogs and articles in the popular press.

But that’s not why it struck such a chord with me.  It’s the unapologetic identification of bad work behavior as violence.  Read more