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The Management Playbook: What You Need to Know About International Considerations in Leading – an Analysis of Multicultural Management

This briefing on International Considerations in Leading was prepared by Susan Gomez while a Management major in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Introduction

An overarching component in multicultural teams is communication. Diverse values, beliefs, attitudes, customs, and thoughts are brought by the team members. Expectations about leadership, decision making and communication are culturally defined. Although leadership is modeled differently among cultures, those that lead are always major players in making and communicating decisions.  According to Hofstede, each nation’s unique culture can be identified using five dimensions.

National Culture is so influential that it tends to overwhelm even a strong corporate culture and it is important that people who serve as leaders and member of multicultural teams understand intercultural communication.

The Idea in a Nutshell

The business world is seeing the need to adapt to multicultural teams; over time it has become common to have work teams of different ethnicities.  International Considerations in Leading is a fundamental thing to have in a business environment. Every culture is different from the other and sometimes a culture’s management style doesn’t work with other culture. And this is when conflict appears.  Communication can be complex even in the best of the situations. This briefing was meant to explain what considerations need to be present in those circumstances.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About International Considerations in Leading

  1. Dimensions of National Culture, Power Distance: is the degree to which power is unequally shared among members of a society. Power is unequally shared in high power distance cultures and more equally shared in low power distance cultures. Malaysia and Mexico scored highest, whereas Germany and Austria scored lowest. People that score high also prefer autocratic to more participative managers.
  2. Uncertainty Avoidance:  is the extent to which a society feels threatened by uncertain situations and prefers orderliness, structures and laws. Greece and Japan scored highest on disliking ambiguity, whereas the United States and Singapore scored lowest. People in those nations scoring high tend to want career stability, formal rules and clear cut- measures of performance.
  3. Individualism- Collectivism: Think we, not I: suggests a loosely knit social fabric in which people take care of themselves (individualism) contrasted with a social fabric in which people are cared for by a group (collectivism) The United States and Canada scored highest on individualism, whereas Mexico and Guatemala scored lowest. People in nations scoring high on individualism is referred to a society that valued individual freedom and independence of actions, compared with a tight social framework and loyalty to the group as collectivism.
  4. Masculinity-Femininity: Is the extent to which a society is oriented toward money and things (which Hofstede labels masculine) or toward people (which Hofstede labels feminine). Japan and Mexico scored highest on masculinity, whereas France and Sweden scored lowest. People in nations scoring high on masculinity tend to value clearly defined sex roles where men dominate, and to emphasize performance and independence, whereas people scoring low on masculinity tend to value equality of sexes where power is shared, and to emphasize the quality of life and interdependence.
  5. Long-term Orientation:  The extent to which a society is oriented towards long term versus shot term. Hong Kong and Japan scored highest on long term orientation, whereas Pakistan scored the lowest. A long term orientation emphasized the importance of hard work, education, and persistence as well as the importance of thrift. Nations with long term time orientation tend to value strategic planning and other management techniques with a long term payback.
  6. Sense of Awareness:  in your workplace about the diversity of your team and about the workplace problems such as racism, etc. you and your colleagues should know about the signs of things starting to go wrong. Unless you educate yourself about a problem, there is a huge chance that you will not have thought on the matter before you make a mistake. In much the same way that a leader can learn how to work with a single culture. Continuous open discovery about the worldviews, approaches and preferences of everyone on the team becomes the backdrop for the group’s work. The leader is a member of this learning community, one who is consistent in her/his interest in serving the team, and models the ongoing negotiation that the team needs to learn. The leader is still the final arbiter for group direction and decisions, but makes those calls in the context of listening to and encouraging open processing but the group across their cultural diversity.
  7. Relationship between intent and impact: We intent evaluation to be beneficial; however their impact can be detrimental. It is easier to focus on our intent to regardless of the impact, but unintentional outcomes can be just as damaging as intentional ones. Realize that there may be a mismatch between your intent and the actual impact of an evaluation, and reflect on how to take a different approach in the future.
  8. Flexibility is the key: the work environment always demands flexibility on your part, but in a multicultural environment the adaptation becomes all the more important. The flexibility that is so important in dealing with anything that does not confirm to our own beliefs ensures your coworkers feel you are not judging them by religion or race, in a work environment, and as humans, their personal qualities and the value of their work matters, never the color of their skin.
  9. Culture Shock: failure to identify cultural issues and take action can lead to a culture shock. In order of priority, the most often found symptoms of culture shock are:

       - Feeling isolated

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