To Lead Across Cultures, Focus on Hierarchy and Decision Making

Kopitiam Bot


The author describes the four cultural types—consensual and egalitarian; consensual and hierarchical; top-down and hierarchical; and top-down and egalitarian—and the corresponding expectations about leadership in each environment. If you keep those in mind, you’ll be more successful in your cross-cultural interactions.

Attitudes toward authority range from strongly hierarchical to strongly egalitarian. Approaches to decision-making vary from top-down to consensual. The author explores both dimensions and classifies selected countries according to their position on both scales. The Japanese, for example, are hierarchical in their views toward authority—deferential to the boss and accustomed to waiting for instructions rather than taking the initiative—but they are consensual decision makers who get buy-in before they set a course of action.

When misunderstandings arise among members of global teams, it’s often because managers conflate attitudes toward authority and attitudes toward decision-making. However, the two are different dimensions of leadership culture, says the author…

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