Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say 'We have done this ourselves'.

- Lao Tzu -



In last week’s article about the impact of organizational culture on outsourcing projects we’ve compared two different approaches to business strategy, the one adopted by German clients vs the one adopted by Indian vendors: while the German society is low-context, individualistic, analytic, dignity-based, and business interactions favor direct communication and a certain degree of self-initiative, the Indian society is high-context, collectivist, highly hierarchical, holistic, honor-shame based, and business interactions emphasize the importance of implicit communication, hierarchy, and group consensus.

To better understand the correlation between cultural values and organizational behavior, today we are going to talk about the characteristics of the leadership styles - autonomous, charismatic, humane oriented, participative, self-protective, team oriented - that each culture cluster values the most according to the Globe Project.

- Autonomous Leadership indicates the degree to which leaders favor and endorse individualism, independence, autonomy, and uniqueness. Perhaps unsurprisingly in consideration of last week’s article [“In offshore outsourcing arrangements between German clients and Indian vendors, some German clients have observed that Indian co-workers tend to keep to specifications, often unreflectedly, rather than actively contributing their own ideas”, behaviors described “by the degree of ‘activity or passivity’, that is, the ‘extent to which individuals in a culture see themselves as doers (active shapers of the world) or beers (passive reactors to the world)”], Germanic Europe is the highest scoring cluster for the Autonomous Leadership style, while in Southern Asia the scoring for this particular style is mid-range and viewed as having no impact on outstanding leadership;

- Charismatic/Inspirational Leadership reflects the ability to inspire, motivate, and expect high performance outcomes from others based on core values. For Globe, this leadership style is associated with decisiveness, vision, performance orientation, and high personal integrity. While charismatic leadership is viewed in a positive light across all clusters, the Charismatic/Value-Based score of the Anglo cluster is the highest of all (“in this cluster people tend to value individual rights and to believe that everyone is responsible for their own success, high-performance tends to be expected, material wealth is is admired”);

- Humane Oriented Leadership refers to the degree to which a leader shows compassion, modesty, and generosity. The highest scoring cluster for this leadership dimension is the Southern Asia cluster;

- Participative Leadership indicates the extent to which leaders involve others in the decision-making process. While this leadership style is appreciated in societies that value performance orientation and gender egalitarianism, it is less popular in societies that score high in terms of power distance and uncertainty avoidance. With regard to the previously cited article on the differences between the German and the Indian approach to business interactions, it must be noted that Germanic Europe has the highest ranking for Participative Leadership among all clusters, while Southern Asia is among the lowest scoring clusters for this leadership style (for context, see ref. to the behaviors described as “activity or passivity” in the paragraph related to Autonomous Leadership);

- Self-protective Leadership reflects the degree to which the leader is self-centered, status conscious, competitive, and likely to resort to a face-saving approach in case of conflict. The self-protective leader is conscious of his own and others’ social standing, he has the tendency to encourage competition among his subordinates, he’s careful to not embarrass and/or shame himself and others (note: while other clusters see self-protective behavior as an impediment to outstanding leadership, in Southern Asia it is viewed as having no impact on outstanding leadership. It must also be noted that in the Confucian-Asia cluster face saving attributes are seen in a positive light - as they are associated with group-protection -, and that in comparison with the other clusters, the Latin American cluster’s score for Self-Protective leadership is relatively high and also associated with social status and face-saving);

- Team Oriented Leadership to the ability of a leader to “implement a common purpose or goal among team members”. The team-oriented leader is diplomatic, inclusive, collaborative, “administratively competent” (organized, orderly), and loyal. Latin America is the highest rank of all cluster on this leadership style.


In light of the above, it might be easy to understand the nature of the misunderstandings that are likely to occur in the interactions between members of high- and low- power distance cultures (the former expect guidance and clear instructions from superiors, they have a preference for clearly defined procedures, they respect and rarely challenge “power holders”, while the latter value and take pride in their problem solving abilities, they openly discuss issues and potential resolutions with their leaders, they question and challenge the authority in case of a disagreement, they take initiative and act autonomously), a common dichotomy in outsourcing/offshoring scenarios.

On a related note, according to Kearney’s 2019 Global Services Location Index “Asian economies represent six of the top seven spots, and India, China, and Malaysia hold the first three spots in the global services value chain”, while “Latin America remains a strong contender, with Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia taking 9th, 11th, and 13th place, respectively” and “the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Russia are pulling ahead” (see also “Leading countries in offshore business services worldwide in 2019” for additional insight): all of the above locations are home to high-power distance cultures, but workplace dynamics between clients and vendors may greatly vary depending on the local context.


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- House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). "Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies". CA: Thousand Oaks




- Bhagat, R. S., Triandis, H. C., & McDevitt, A. S. (2012). ”Managing global organizations: A cultural perspective”. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar

- Hofstede, Geert H. (1997). "Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (second ed.)". New York: McGraw-Hill

- House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). "Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies". CA: Thousand Oaks

- Kotler, P., Keller, K.L., Koshy, A., & Jha, M. (2009). "Marketing Management – a South Asian Perspective". Delhi, India: Prentice Hall

- Lewis, R. D. (1996). "When cultures collide: Managing successfully across cultures". London: N. Brealey Pub

- Orbe, M. (1998). “Constructing co cultural theory: An Explication of culture, power, and communication”. Thousand Oaks, NJ: Sage Publications

- Steers, Richard & Nardon, Luciara & Sanchez-Runde, Carlos. (2016). “Management Across Cultures: Developing Global Competencies”. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

Disclosure: This section contains affiliate links. If you were to buy any of the books listed here, I would earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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