Adapting Leadership to Todays Global Market

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The word Management traces its origins to the arts of horsemanship and is made up of Latin word manus means hand, and the Italian word maneggiare, means to train horses.

As well quoted in Business Leadership Review in April 2004, Jonathan Gosling argued that "leadership development within management education should develop the 'character', integrity, skills and discursive intelligence necessary for the responsible exercise of power".

The present leadership theories do not fit into today's global market. There is a need to include cross-cultural component in the paradigms of leadership styles being educated in MBA programs.

Sensitivity to culture and context

The MBA (Master in Business Administration) education focuses on the successful application of same behaviors and traits of leadership in every context, thus, ignoring the important aspect of cultural sensitivity.

Dilemmas that today's leaders encounter

Culture plays a very vital role in organizations. It will persuade the understanding about the leader's role in organizations. In addition to that, it influences things like the communication between the leader and the follower, the kinds of decisions favored by seniors and their juniors as well as the degree of participative decision-making process (Mockaitis, A. I. 2005).

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The new age group leaders should play a role of organizational anthropologist by understanding the underlying values, history and traditional aspects of the workspace as well as the individuals.

The main apprehension is the accomplishment of the preferred objectives of the organization through autocracy as the value free theories of leadership are not sensitive to the ethical considerations of the organization (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (n.d.)).

Ethics and Spirituality have also become one of the strategic key objectives in the arena of international leadership styles. Non-Western countries like African, Native American, as well as some Eastern societies, tend to focus on the ethical based decision making process.

This leads to the examination of core values, right versus wrong dilemmas, and resolution principles such as ends-based thinking, rule-based thinking and care-based thinking (Biometrics (n.d.)).

The Independent Component

Culture differentiates one human group from another and it may be stated as a set of learned values shared between groups, which persuades the group's perception towards life which includes human beliefs and attitudes (Mockaitis, A. I. 2005)

The Dependent Component

"Leadership has been defined as a focus of group processes, personality, compliance, influence, behaviors, persuasion, and power relations" (Bass, B.M. 1990). An important aspect of this definition is the stress on perceptions and expectations of group members, which is particularly important in cross-cultural interactions (Mockaitis, A. I. 2005). 

Do different countries have a preference over various leadership behaviors?

Yes, different countries tend to go for a variety of leadership behaviors. These can be categorized into three different behavior groups, which are, Fundamental leadership, results-oriented leadership and business know-how leadership (HR Leader n.d.)

The three leadership styles can be defined as follows:

The fundamental leader is one who shows signs of a proper and sound judgment/decision. He/she is very confident and adaptable. One who is a good coach who can lead from front, and he/she can walk the talk in every field (HR Leader n.d.).

The results-oriented leader is one who makes plans and leads boldly from the front. The only limitation, in comparison to fundamental leader is that, he/she is less flexible, with respect to surroundings or in building relationships (HR Leader n.d.).

The individual, who knows the business well in-depth and has very good technical and functional skills as well, is the business know-how leader (HR Leader n.d.).

Preference of leadership styles from various countries perspective

Every country has its own preference of choosing leadership styles because the work culture, ethics and spiritual things differ from country to country.

E.g. Countries like India and Singapore are in more favor of the business know-how style because they feel that individuals have in depth information about a business. On the other hand, countries like Mexico and Germany prefer results-oriented leaders as they believe in the policy of leading from the front (HR Leader n.d.).

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Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and United States, are not in favor of a particular leadership style. It shows that these countries are not dependent, or they are very flexible as they can choose any leadership styles according to their requirements (HR Leader n.d.).

So it is a good practice in considering the leadership styles in different countries before starting communicating with international colleagues as it helps us in adopting the right cultural behavior (HR Leader n.d.).

Universalistic approach towards leadership

It has been observed that there has been substantial difference of opinion about the prevalence of leadership characteristics. These qualities are based on the belief that some of the characteristics play a key role in contributing towards effective leadership styles, in almost all aspects. The elements of Universal Theory of Leadership comprise of Personal Characteristics, behaviors and skills. In order to become a proficient and successful leader, he/she needs to possess some specific qualities like it is really good if the leader has excellent communication, presentation and convincing skills in order to persuade other people to follow him/her. In addition to these aforementioned skills, if the leader some sound/great ideas, it is really helpful. No doubt, sometimes these ideas come from someone else; in that case, the leader has to develop cordial relations with those people. In spite of having all the aforementioned qualities, there could be several problems that can result in making the leader unsuccessful like any problem / confliction in the elements of leadership (Otaibi 2009).

Contingency Approach

The Universal theory of leadership was not capable of going ahead in a successful and competent manner. This was due to high fluctuations in social-economic conditions, we well dramatic changes in the market conditions. In addition to these two, a major development in technological aspects was also a major reason (Chan, A. 2004).

The leadership and managerial behavior depends not only on extensive range of situations, but also on their associated elements. Keeping this thing in mind, an organization leader must investigate and examine the forces that are for and against the organizational change, well before any change in the design of organization occurs. These forces can be nature of the workforce, competition etc.

Fred Edward Fiedler, who created the contingency theory, mentioned that an excellent leadership style depends on several internal and external constraints, such as the industry, size of the organization, the technologies used, etc.

Examples of universalistic vs. contingent leadership

In general, the roles and responsibilities set for a subordinate by his/her superior, in western cultures, are properly defined and restricted by certain actions or activities. This results in good official relations between a manager and employees.

A simple example can be like, if the manager in a company wants to put into practice a no-smoking rule. Before implementing this rule in the workforce, he/she has to restrain himself/herself from smoking. Asian leaders have a tendency of treating their juniors as a family, and to suggest/advice them in case of any issues as they become very concerned of them.

Situational Leadership Theory

The Situational leadership is very different as it is not the usual case of possessing certain leadership styles by a manager. It depends on the particular needs of the business.

The manger should be very capable of implementing various leadership styles. Thus, the managers are trained to make them familiar with the current work environment, their employee conditions and to make them able to use the proficient leadership style i.e. the manager should be very versatile and adaptable according to the situations.

For example, to assign a task to a worker who is not ready to accept it may leave a feeling that the junior is not efficient, and so it can result in frustration between the two. In order to avoid this situation, the manager must be capable of choosing the competent leadership style.

Examples of Situational Leadership

Telling and Directing: In this case, the manager properly administers the work assigned to his/her subordinates. This is very helpful for an inexperienced employee, as he needs a direction in learning the policies of the business (Kristina 2010).

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Participating and Supporting: A case in which the manager keeps very minimum observation on his/her juniors'. Here, the tasks are given on daily basis, and any required instructions for the same. But the subordinates are given enough time to finish the work. This is very helpful for individuals who lack motivation (Kristina 2010).

Delegating. In this case, the subordinates are given full control of the tasks and their courses of actions. However, the manager will make the final decision. This is really helpful for experienced individuals who possess the capability of defining their methods in carrying out their organizational objectives (Kristina 2010).