Leadership Influenced By Culture

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Leadership Styles Influenced By Culture: An investigation in Greek multinational organizations


Effective use of cross cultural teams can provide a source of experience and innovative thinking to enhance the competitive position of organizations. However, cultural differences can interfere with the successful completion of projects in today's multicultural global business community. To achieve project goals and avoid cultural misunderstandings, project managers should be culturally sensitive and promote creativity and motivation through flexible leadership (Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky. 2009).

This paper describes the most well known and accepted cross cultural management theories. These theories consider relations between people, motivational orientation, orientation toward risk, definition of self and others, attitudes to time, and attitudes to the environment. We discuss motivation and training of multicultural project teams and relevant implications for project management. We provide examples of success and failure in international, multicultural projects. The paper concludes that global project management can succeed through culturally-aware leadership, cross cultural communication, and mutual respect. Without them, it is destined to fail.


Leadership and debates

Leadership has been the focal point of a large number of books and research articles and has been defined in dissimilar ways. Goleman and Boyatzis. (2008) has stressed that thirty nine years are required by an individual to read whatever has been written about leadership. Moreover, Crainer has argued that there are more than four hundred definitions about leadership (Gawer and Cusumano. 2008). Similarly, the difficulty to define leadership has been pointed out by other academics (Gandossy and Guarnieri. 2008). Successful leadership coach over the last twenty years advocated that leadership does not constitute so complex an issue and the factors linked to effective leadership should be simpler.

Moreover, it has been supported that leadership is not focused on the leader; it is about how leaders help people to feel confident. This is stated since the main leadership objectives should include the development of confidence and the support of the appropriate emotional environment that inspires and motivates individuals. CBI report stressed that the distinguishing feature of a successful organisation in relation to a good one is the capacity of leaders to inspire persons to understand their horizons both individually and collectively (Friedman, 2008).

Theoretical approaches of leadership

The factors that influence effective leadership have been the focal point of (classical and recent) leadership approaches. However, the academic approaches linked to leadership vary considerably. There is no one right or wrong theory. All theories are useful in order to view leadership from different perspectives (Fleming, 2008).

Classical OR Traditional leadership

The qualities or traits approach which is the earliest leadership theory and based on the Great Person theory highlights the traits of the leader and supports that whatever differentiates leaders from followers is based on inherited features or personality characteristics. Hence, there is a “leadership gene” that is responsible for the leadership traits and leaders are born not made. For example, Martin Luther King who encouraged the movement for the black civil rights constitutes a recent example of the Great Person approach (Erickson, ...
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