You may be wondering what the difference in leadership style looks like between American and Chinese executives. Well, they’re drastically different. Looking at leadership styles across different cultures helps give an understanding towards the autonomy that one is used to. For example, egalitarian cultures prefer self-direction with minimal guidance, they also prefer flexibility in their roles, meeting expectations and using more common sense. On the other hand, there are hierarchical cultures. These individuals prefer to take guidance from superiors, respect and rarely challenge those in power. They also enforce regulations and guidelines within their environment. Communication between employees and supervisors is important in figuring out what working styles are most relevant to the specific cultures in a workplace. Therefore, superiors need to be open to using leadership styles found at the other end of the spectrum. 

Finding that middle ground

Leaders need to understand their employees’ work tendencies. For instance, some people need guidance and direction in their work; whereas others need things to be clear cut. If a supervisor is very vague about what they want done, the employees are going to question their capabilities. In order to avoid confusion, the supervisor needs to take actions on shifting more towards an authoritarian style and give clear directions and check up on the team or individual. On the other hand, some employees may have an egalitarian style where they are used to working on their own without any interruptions or don’t need as much guidance. The supervisor may need to shift a bit to the egalitarian side and give their workers more flexibility and freedom. That way the employees don’t have to worry about the supervisor always telling them what to do and they are comfortable in their work environment. 

Many individuals have experienced working with people who have different personalities than ourselves. It teaches you how to work with others even when it is difficult to do so. I remember working on a group project where our team was not putting in enough effort to get it done. We were crunched on time and no one was taking any initiative. I had to take the authoritarian leadership approach and remind my team members of what needed to be done and try to motivate the team. Eventually it all worked out for the better of the team and the client liked our project, the best out of all the other groups. It is important to step out of your comfort zone sometimes and take on a different role than used to. Whether that is being a leader or follower, in the end, having an effective team is what matters. 

Overall, if supervisors can do this it can make a big difference in the culture of their workplace. It shows that you care about the success of your employees and the organization and demonstrate that the supervisor is willing to move to that middle ground to figure out how to solve certain problems and work with their employers as a ‘one-unit team’.