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Difference Between Principles of Leadership and Management

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The specific case or situation that is of special interest to me is cross-cultural leadership and management, which I have work experiences since 1995 with different situations. I bring up several interesting ones that are related to this topic.

Leadership role model

It was started when I got employed in a multinational company in Asia as an automation field engineer. During commissioning on customer sites, there were many engineers from different countries involved in the projects, which I found very exciting. One of the field leaders from Switzerland impressed me deeply and I choose him as role model when started to work as team leader. The reason was that he was a leader with a kind of proven leading method that brought the team with multi-cultural members to success, passing many obstacles during long period projects. Most all the team members gave same opinions.

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DuBrin [1] in Chaper 2 gives relevant concepts for Global and Cross-Cultural Leadership. I am always curious to know how to improve my leadership in effectively leading different built team with multi-cultural tem members. In line with this final report I found a scientific journal articles that is relevant to the topic. It is a study focusing on culturally endorsed implicit theories of leadership and its results support the hypothesis that specific aspects of charismatic/transformational leadership are strongly and universally endorsed across cultures [2].

I agree with the analysis result from the study regarding Universally Endorsed Attributes. Several attributes reflecting integrity, such as trustworthy, just and honest, contributing to outstanding leadership in all cultures [2]. These attributes are exactly that I found in my role model. I think integrity is the first important impression to get the team members’ acceptance to be their leader.

Other attributes reflecting charismatic, inspirational and visionary leadership mentioned in the result [2] that I also observed fitting in my role model are encouraging, positive, motivational, confidence builder, dynamic and foresight. We had a team member at that time who was very difficult to understand his task. Almost everybody thought that it would be good if he was replaced with other engineer, but the field engineer did not take that decision. I witnessed several times that he spent several hours to explain the tasks very patiently. At the end, that team member could accomplish his task well. Honestly, if I was the team leader at that time, I am not sure I would act like the field leader. I gave him high score for that as my team leader.

Regarding vision, I did not hear so much from him. I understand later in the next section of the study regarding Top-Management versus Lower Hierarchical Levels. Characteristics such as being visionary (in this case) is considered more important for top managers than for lower level managers [2] and he was categorized as lower level manager. He had surely attributes of effective lower-level managers such as attention for subordinates, team building and participative.

He gave me many advices. I just pick one that I think relevant to this topic. He advised that to work with multicultural team, I have to avoid to discuss about religions, politics and races. This discussion came up since several workers even from customer side, brought questions related to religions. His advice was certainly intended to avoid unnecessary conflicts, since giving a wrong statement may result in no point of return. I found also an article regarding this matter in [3]. It states that conflict and its constructive management are important for the optimal functioning of organizations; however, most conflict management recommendations still focus on conflict reduction, resolution or minimization, because of the negative impact it can have on organizations and individuals. The conflicts, either as side effect of communication or intentionally triggered, can lead to distress and distraction from work, affecting decision-making processes, relationships and individual effectiveness, as well as productivity and creativity. The journal also mentions about evidence that conflict can impact negatively on organizational productivity, and increase costs.

Faced Issues

Another fact from my experience that I would like to analyze was selection of my department managers. During the time work as field engineer (around five years) in South East Asia, my department got changing of managers several times (at least four times). What bothered me and also my colleagues at that time was that those appointed managers were never from our department. It was always external personal from other countries in the company concern. The good performance results from the projects we made did not make any consideration. Several manager changes at the beginning were acceptable when they came from companies in U. S. and Europe. We admitted that we might need to learn more, although the feeling about our chance in carrier climbing faded away eventually. Our disappointment culminated when the appointed manager was an Indian. This is not a race issue. The problem was he liked to press us, took honor for himself. Any issue in the projects, it would be us in the team to blame (even due to miscalculation of selling price, which was not done by the team). Any credits in the project would be his. He reported to his manager (the region manager) allocated in other country, so the team never met his manager. After several months, everybody in the team quit and moved to other companies.

The first matter I wondered is why such a big multinational company chose that kind of manager. It happened quite long time back, but it is still bothering my mind. I do not think it was just happened without a reason. After reading some articles about cross-cultural leadership and management, I might come to the analysis result. I think the decision was made based on the assumptions of the situation. DuBrin’s book mentions for example that the Malaysian leadership emphasize collective well-being and display strong humane orientation within a society that respects hierarchical differences (high power differences) [2]. This seemed incompatible with the expectation from the region manager. The Indian manager instead is more likely U. S. similar trained and English spoken and I admitted that he was good in talking. By putting him as department manager in Malaysian workers was assumed to secure the situation with uncertain cultural behavior. The hierarchical differences would be respected.

The second matter is related to the team members’ feeling about their carrier progress reaching dead end. In a study to summarize the major research that has been conducted regarding cross‐cultural issues in China [4], it states practical implications for future cross‐culture management practices in China should follow several basic principles, as follows:

  • applicable, that is, build unique organizational culture that is embedded in the host country
  • practical, since there is no well‐developed multinational culture in China, new culture should be concerned with both sides
  • systematic, cross‐culture management practices should have supporting system
  • equal, no single culture is better than another
  • cultural penetration, two different cultures have mutual impact
  • merit‐based appointment and promotion, use local personnel, not just talents from the home country.

I think these are also applicable for the countries in South East Asia.

Experienced Effective Ways for Cross-Cultural Management

The next fact to discuss is my current situation, where I work in projects developing new products. The development teams are located in several countries, such as India, Sweden, Germany, U. S., and China. Besides DuBrin’s book and several articles mentioned above, I found an interesting articles discussing 7 Effective Ways to Successful Cross-Cultural Management [5]. Once again, it also describes that trust is a crucial characteristic for any high-functioning, effective team. Trust is particularly challenging for several reasons in a multi-cultural team [5].

I have one interesting occasion when we met the team in Bangalore, India, for the first time. The project leader from Sweden asked the Bangalore team what they suggest to do to handle a particular issue. I recognized from my training that this is one of the method to engaging the team to the activity. Unfortunately this was a strange situation for them. Why didn’t project leader know what the team should do? In their mind.

At the beginning, I found that people in the team were very shy to give their opinion or to explain their situation with the work. After getting to know each other with the team member, the block between us seemed disappeared. So, I agree to the first effective way to encourage them to use the skills and knowledge they have to help the group [5].

The second suggested effective way, “Take Steps to Retain a Culturally Diverse Staff”, suits in my previous facts about the team’s disappointment to the department manager. It would be different outcome if the department manager took some time to give the individual that let them feel appreciated and intellectually stimulated.

Our testing project that is validating the product requirements consists of a team in Sweden and a team in India. In Sweden, the team is in charge for the new requirements since it has been evaluated that sending prototypes abroad to India is not cost effective due to probability for some changes is still high. The team in India is in charge for the regression test to make sure the existing features are applied properly in the coming release products. Both team must be synchronized, from understanding in terms of verification and validation until the tools they need to use for reporting bugs. The statement suits well regarding the third effective way “The Cross Cultural Management Team Needs to Create a Structure for Success”. For multicultural teams, this means ensuring they have a compelling and clear direction. Members of the team need access to resources and information to complete the tasks given efficiently [5].

We had problem at the beginning to measure the work progress of each individual. We had weekly meeting surely, but it did fully catch the individual issues, especially with long distance communication. Encounter this, we built a web site the each individual can report issues they found and mark the progress. Similarly with the vacation schedule. We found out that India has quite many holidays because many religions exists and each religion has its own holidays. Effective way number 4: Get to Know the Team’s Cultural Differences, fits this situation. A great way to counteract miscommunication is by implementing employee self-service software. With this, your team members can easily know what is going on with each person [5].

We believed at start that a common work style will make the interaction between teams effectively. We found out that it is not easy to make a team from different culture to use the other team’s culture. Later, we decided that each team shall have a kind of coordinator that apply own norms. This is in line with the suggested effective way number 5: Create Clear Norms and Maintain Them. When one member of the team does not stick with the established norms, we let the coordinator to take some actions.

The effective way number 6: Work to Build Personal Bonds states that a great way to ease potential disagreements or conflict is to establish personal connections [5]. We proved this method work well. When we visited the team in India, somehow many of the team members have willingness to build personal bounds. They invited us to their homes and introduced their families. When we have issue in the project, the communication works well to solve the problem.

We experience very seldom conflict between the team members. Mostly problem is caused by fuzzy boundaries of product part responsibility. Anyway, it is right to address conflict immediately as the seventh effective way, otherwise it will be cumulative and it will be difficult to solve.

I think although we involves several development team from different cultures, it works pretty well for us. Each team comes from different company management in different countries, yet we are in the same concern. We get also full support from the top management. The last few years, the top management emphasizes that we are one big family. Any problem in any team is our problem.

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