This post was originally published in 2014 on: http://www.cloudriven.fi/en/blog/midst-cultural-differences-leadership-europe-asia/
Over the past 18 months, I have had a great opportunity in being given the responsibility for a mix of teams from Europe and Asia and I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned in the process of effecting change.
One of the first things you often run into are people being dismissive or skeptical about how things can be applied to different cultures. People who lack cultural awareness and don’t see employees as human beings tend to categorize others based on stereotypes, whereas people leaders just see human beings with different social values but with the same basic feelings and needs underneath.
To explain some of the skepticism I’ll explain briefly my usual leadership style:
Many people were telling me this approach is bound to fail in Asia, because:
However, following just a few basic principles of leadership and team dynamics it was possible to achieve great results also in Asia with the same approach. Briefly covering the 5 dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni:
All these dysfunctions seem to be exactly the same in Asia as they are in Europe. Also the approach to addressing these is similar – as a leader you need to go first, show initiative and ensure that you’re being seen as a human being. The most difficult thing and difference in leading people in Asia was establishing a deep enough trust with the whole team that the people feel comfortable bringing up their concerns and disagreements or uncertainty in a group setting.
Some things worth trying in a situation like that are:
Applying similar leadership principles with Asian cultures as with European cultures proved very effective and the outcome has been a major increase in engagement and significant improvement in results. As in my experience, the key to good leadership is to remember the people and their feelings underneath the culture façade.LinkedIn Facebook Twitter