I have worked in two different companies that were owned by Asian entities. In one role, I was a purchasing agent for a Taiwanese after-market car parts company. In the other, I was a contracts analyst for a Japanese medical device company. As an American working for organizations that have different cultural backgrounds, I had to get used to the way they were run.
In terms of the GLOBE research study, both Taiwan and Japan are part of the Confucian Asia cluster (Northouse, 2016). The study found that this regional cluster, compared to others, was unique in various ways. The clusters in this study were scored on cultural dimensions such as in-group collectivism, institutional collectivism, and performance orientation, to name a few (Northouse, 2016). Confucian Asia scored high in these three categories and are considered to be driven, encourage group effort over individual goals and value loyalty (Northouse, 2016). From my personal experience, I would agree with these findings. There were very high expectations for all levels of employees in these roles, but more importantly, leadership followed suit and set great examples in terms of work ethic, drive and loyalty.
On the same note, the Globe study found that Confucian Asia countries are more likely to prefer self-protective, team oriented and humane oriented leadership behaviors (Northouse, 2016). Decisions tend to be made by leadership without the involvement of their subordinates (Northouse, 2016). This is very different than American culture, where leadership tends to be sensitive to others and their input (Northouse, 2016). Therefore, this was a bit of a learning curve for me personally while working for Confucian Asian regional companies. I have learned that as a follower, I have to be sensitive to cultural variances in the roles I have in order to go with the flow and be successful. Understanding different cultures is valuable to me and will continue to be so as I reach out for leadership roles in the future.
In terms of application of culture and leadership, understanding my own cultural biases and preferences is the first step in understanding that other cultures also have their own biases and preferences (Northouse, 2016). I do not operate in a silo and I have to be aware of the way others in leadership roles may behave any why they behave that way in order to be an effective leader myself. Additionally, I have to understand that what makes a good leader in my country, may not constitute effective leadership skills in other countries (Northouse, 2016). Lastly, understanding the intricacies of culture and leadership will help me to develop better communication skills in dealing with other cultures in order to have effective and productive interchanges (Northouse, 2016).
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc