Leadership across cultures is becoming a much more important part of today’s workplace. Understanding communication, motivation, and other issues that differ cross culturally will help to make a better leader. Lopes (2006) found that motivation across cultures should not be generalized as they vary too much. There are things that are shared, but are very basic principles. Work goals, work centrality, and societal norms were all issues that predicted motivation across cultures (Peterson & Ruiz-Quintanilla, 2003). Being able to understand the different norms of the cultures a manager works with will increase the organization’s productivity.
There is also the issue of communication in organizations with different cultures. Being culturally sensitive will increase the attentiveness and output of the employee (Sizoo, 2006). Despite belief to treat people as if “color blind” where the manager treats everyone the same, this can be detrimental to the group (Brown, Pryzwansky, & Schulte, 2006). It sets a precedent of ignoring the different cultural norms of the individuals of the group. Humor has even been found to be of great managerial significance cross-culturally (Kalliny, Cruthirds, & Minor, 2006). Using humor deemed inappropriate by another culture can impact their perceptions of the manager’s skills and personality.
Based on the many cultures we must encounter and work with today, I do not believe there is a single best leadership style. I think one that is knowledgeable and patient enough to want to lead all the different types of backgrounds will have better luck, but there are many ways of going about this. For a leader to have success in an organization, it is important to be culturally sensitive and want to learn about the culture of the organization.
Brown, D., Pryzwansky, W., & Schulte, A.C. (2006). Psychological consultation: Introduction to theory and practice (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Kalliny, M., Cruthirds, K.W., & Minor, M.S. (2006). Differences between American, Egyptian and Lebanese humor styles: Implications for international management. International Journal of Cross Culture Management, 6(1), 121-134. DOI: 10.1177/1470595806062354.
Lopes, T.P. (2006). Career development of foreign-born workers: Where is the career motivation research? Human Resource Development Review, 5(4), 478-493. DOI:10.1177/1534484306293925.
Peterson, M.F., & Ruiz-Quintanilla, S.A. (2003). Cultural socialization as a source of intrinsic work motivation. Group & Organizational Management, 28(2), 188-216. DOI: 10.1177/1059601103251228.