COMPARISON BETWEEN ASIAN AND WESTERN LEADERSHIP STYLES
Leadership styles in Asian companies is different from the styles employed in the West. Despite some similarities, the companies in Asia have leadership styles that promote family leadership at the expense of professional leadership. The differences that exist between these two are a result of differences in culture and levels of development. This paper will focus on the major differences and similarities in the way leadership is tackled in these two regions.
Every administration has its form of influencing people towards attainment of its goals. It could be formal or informal as in business and friendship respectively. Leadership begins with families and extends to global level. Good leadership is the kind of visionary leadership that is geared towards achieving the goals already set out (Argyris, 1976). There exists differences in leadership styles because of varied reasons. Asia and the West are two global regions that have some distinct features that makes the leadership styles in these regions to vary.
Asian countries are currently experiencing rapid economic growth, a trend which Mills (2005) perceives will be existent for a long time to come. At the center of this trend is the business leadership employed by managers and entrepreneurs in the various Asian companies. Mills (2005) observes that leadership in Asia is political and controlled by families. Though family leadership is also practised in the West, it is more common in Asia. Political affiliation is also present in Western leadership though not as rampant as in Asia. As such, the board members and the executives have more freedom in Asia as compared to their counterparts in America. In these American firms, the professional executives are recruited from within the existing managers when the serving managers retire or are replaced by the board (Bennis, 1989, Burns, 1978). There are instances where firms hire executives from external sources, commonly in small firms. Many firms in America are in the latest development stages unlike their counterparts in Asia. The leadership in most of these firms have been passed down to professional leaders different from their initial family founders. It is anticipated that Asia will follow suit but this is highly unlikely due to the culture of political connections being necessary for a successful leader still being enforced.
Directive style of leadership is more common in Asia than in America. Here, the leader offers the directions to be followed by the members of the organization. In other western countries like Germany in Europe, a leader is incorporated in the workforce and they operate as a team (Greenleaf, 1977). This participative leadership is also common in Asian countries like Japan but very unpopular in America. Instead, a new form of leadership where the followers are energized is being adopted by most companies especially those with autonomous divisions. The subordinate members of the organization are delegated responsibilities to undertake. According to Warneka (2006), this is slowly being adopted in Asia.
Asia and the West will have a different perspective of a charismatic leader. This is a leader who is liked by people, not because of the management or business success of such a leader but because of the ability to just attract followers. The reason for the variability of this is the different measures each region employs to determine such a leader. Lastly is the celebrity or superstar leadership. Such leaders always attract media attention because of their looks or style. In the West, this kind of leadership is on the low due to exposure of corporate scandals but it is expected to make a recovery.
Asia is notorious for grand corruptions which are extended to businesses (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). In America, this is replaced by financial reporting fraud. These negatively impact on the economy. While role models in America are corporate CEOs, in China, the role models are the heads of families. In France, Japan and Germany, the role models are the military general, consensus builders and coalition builders respectively.
The Internet and Information Technology are the key aspects in modern hi-tech leadership in American companies (Carmazzi, 2005, Renesch, 1994). India is fast following suit and succeeding in the same. Acer’s Stan Shih is a good testimony to this (Carmazzi, 2005). American leaders distinctly exhibit adaptability. In Asia, just like in Europe, this is less valued. This is an important virtue and would be required universally soon. Both Asian and Western leaders however exhibit emotional toughness although the latter try not to show it. In Japan and Europe, the chief executives are more concession-oriented as compared to their counterparts in America and China who make personal decisions and take responsibilities for any eventualities (Jones, 2004).
Currently, the leadership styles in America and Asia are different. Cultural differences dictate the way leadership is executed but not what is being led. The different leadership styles could be used as an indicator of the stage of development in Asia and the West. With continued search for access to capital market, Asia is headed towards professional management as those employed in the US.
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