Influence of National Culture and Gender in Leadership Style Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

globalization that diversified cultures and backgrounds have converged and are working together in collaboration. Considering the scenario of today's world, the rapidly changing demographics have played a critical role in the emergence of new styles of leadership. The definition of competitiveness and the qualities associated with a leader have also changed in the current times. And among all the qualities the two most prominent qualities that every leader must possess is related to the consideration of equity of gender, and equity of diversified cultures.

Different cultures suggest different roles for males and females based on their unique value system. The mindsets, couture, and eating habits of almost all the cultures are traditionally unique. Countries belonging to a particular geographical area behave in a certain way, so do the organizations and leaders belonging to those areas. Their attitude and approach is derived from their cultural values. Some countries have common cultures whereas on the other hand multiple cultures also exist within culture itself or within a country or within an organization. Similarly an individual can also have a multicultural orientation. Human beings are divided into two major classes or categories; masculine and feminine which differ physically, biologically, and psychologically. The roles are generally different based on the physical, social, and cultural needs. Yet there are some common roles that both males and females are performing (Hofstede, 1985).

Organizations tend to hire only the best people regardless of their background, gender or origin. This practice has resulted in changed demographics all over the world and all the leading organizations of the world like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others have employees belonging from different cultural backgrounds and the ratio among male and female in these organizations are almost same as well.

General gender difference in communication

Gender differences in communication, identity development, sexuality and almost every other thing have remained a topic of interest among anthropologists, thinkers and psychologists alike. While apparently they seem to behave alike on many occasions- for example both men and women would show remorse for wrong actions, apologize for mistakes made, feel excited and happy after achieving something, want to love and be loved, but still on deeper level there are found many stark differences that tend to push men and women at extreme opposite ends of the behavior spectrum. Women are believed to have a nurturing nature while men are more macho in their approach. Similarly women are more sensitive while men usually shrug off emotions as if they would make them appear weak and vulnerable. These and such other issues have resulted in conflict of sorts that has resulted in men and women believing they just don't live on the same planet.

Women are supposedly more empathic in their approach to others while men seem to care less about other people's feelings. Numerous books and articles on gender differences have only served to exaggerate this gap. Women and men have silently suffered from lack of understanding since ages but it's only now that their pain has found voice and is being articulated by such prominent writers as Deborah Tannen and John Gray. Tannen's, You Just Don't Understand, and Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, have at least helped in giving voice to these issues that had hitherto remained hidden under the surface. Tannen based her book on the premise that "Boys and girls grow up in what are essentially different cultures, so talk between women and men is cross-cultural communication (Tannen, 1990, p.18). While John Gray wrote in USA Weekend (2003) that: "I've built a reputation on the premise that the sexes communicate with each other as if they came from different planets. I think we see proof that we don't become different over the years, but rather we start out that way (p.6)."

Larry Crab in his book, Men and Women, Enjoying the Difference, focuses on the gender differences debate and explains that men and men are given different roles to play and fulfillment of these roles is what forces them to adopt different strategies to similar problems. He explains:

Masculinity, I suggest, might therefore be thought of as the satisfying awareness of the substance God as placed within a man's being that can make an enduring contribution to God's purposes in his world, and will be deeply valued by others, especially his wife, as a reliable source of wise, sensitive, compassionate, and decisive involvement. (160)

Femininity, at its core, might therefore be thought of as the secure awareness of the substance God has placed within a woman's being that enables her to confidently and warmly invite others into relationship with God and with herself, knowing that there is something in each relationship to be wonderfully enjoyed. (163)

No matter how we encapsulate the entire debate, the one thing that is blatantly clear from each book on gender differences is that both men and women belong to different cultures and their development in widely dissimilar cultures conditions their minds to behave in a unique fashion. "Men's and women's communication styles are startlingly dissimilar...communication is the most glaring of the differences between the sexes." (De Vito, 2002, p. 84). Women are found to be better at trouble talks. This means when a tricky situation comes up, women are more likely to handle it better than men who are believed to be more aggressive and thus less qualified for resolving conflicts. Michaud and Warner based their study on Tannen's hypothesis and explained:

Summarizing Tannen's description of gender difference in the frequency of use of communication styles, it appears that men are more likely than women to respond to troubles talk by giving advice, joking, changing the subject, or giving no response. Women are more likely than men to respond to troubles talk by sharing a similar problem or expressing sympathy. Summarizing her description of the emotional or evaluative responses to communication styles: she suggested that when they receive sympathy, women feel more comforted and closer to their partners than men; men who receive sympathy tend to feel more angry or put down. According to Tannen, neither men nor women evaluate advice giving very positively, but her examples suggest that men are more likely to feel "put down" by receiving advice than women. (pp. 528-529)

Organization Culture And National Culture Impact In An Organization

Globalization has allowed organizations to have employees from different nationalities working together towards one organizational objective. Because people have different backgrounds, therefore their cultural norms, perception and way of working differs as well. It is possible that an act that is considered as a good gesture in one national norm might not be considered good in other culture. For instance, in an organization when an individual do not shake hands with someone, generally it is perceived that this is not a good habit, and the other person is disrespecting the handshake, however in Indian culture, when a person is not shaking hands it is considered absolutely normal and people tend to not to consider this as an act of disrespect.

Generally in an organization when people belong from different cultural backgrounds, it is hard for everyone to recognize and understand the differences in culture. To avoid such differences in culture, organizations have their own culture so that employees working in the organization are fully aware of what they are supposed to do in each circumstance. The role of the leader plays a very important role in developing the organization culture, because the leader is the representative of the house and he or she needs to be an inspirational figure that can direct the team in an effective manner towards the achievement of goal. When people from different cultural backgrounds are working together, the leader needs to identify the qualities and needs of each person working in the team and then lead and manage the team according to his needs, want and demands. This is a high contingent approach that a leader needs to act upon, and although people within the same cultures, national background or gender might have some common behavior and preferences but every individual in all aspects will be different from any other member within the team (Harris & Moran, 1996).

According to the expectancy theory every individual within a group has different preferences, opinions and expects different behavior from a leader on a similar situation (Schmidt, 1973). Hence, a leader needs to identify the expectation of the individual member of the team, and needs to deliver according to the expectation so that the person is motivated and work according to the standard that has been set (Fiedler, 2005). Although the recognition of expectations of an individual is difficult task but an important one, however if a leader applies Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory and ERG theory on an individual, this generalizes the concept of requirement and eventually results in providing good grounds to understand where a person stands in terms of needs. People who are striving for the physiological needs would need money, to cater their…

Sources Used in Document:


Fiedler, F. (1972). Predicting the effects of leadership training and experience from the contingency model., Journal of Applied Psychology, retrieved April 27, 2011 from

Fiedler, F. (1972). The effects of leadership training and experience: A contingency model interpretation, Administrative Science Quarterly, retrieved April 27, 2011 from

Fiedler, F. (2005). CONTINGENCY THEORY OF LEADERSHIP, Essential theories of motivation and leadership, retrieved April 25, 2011 from

Harris, P. & Moran, R. (1996). Managing cultural differences, retrieved April 27, 2011 from

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