Leadership in an International Business Changing Roles Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Leadership in an International Business

Changing Roles of Managers & Teams

Leadership and Employees Behavior in International Business

With the change in the structure of enterprises from national to international, the organizations are forced to hire talent from cross-cultural background. Due to this, a complexity for an organization while handling their human capital increases. In order to combat this complexity, it is important that the individuals inducted show an acceptance to diversity and eagerness to work in a cross-cultural environment. Similarly, the individual needs of such employees should also be satisfied in order to motivate them and enhance the effectiveness of their performance.

Where the nature of human resources changes in an international business, so does the role and responsibility of managers. Manager in such environment are expected to play a role of a leader who knows how to motivate his team, celebrate difference, handle conflicts effectively and improves overall productivity of the team. Such managers are also expected to build teams which are cohesive in nature, comply with organizational objectives, have defined roles and objectives and are active player of symbiosis.

Similarly, managers are also expected to understand the dynamics of cross-cultural forces in a decision making process and comply with it by performing normative decision making.


In today's world, having international presence is becoming essential for being a successful enterprise. Similarly, this cross-cultural presence also requires managing human resources belonging to various regions representing varied cultures. In order to establish a dynamic international enterprise, it is necessary that the needs and motivational factors of these employees are understood well by the employer and met accordingly. With the revolution in the business models, the concept of management is also being replaced by leadership. In today's business, the managers are expected to play a role of leaders who are well-versed with the needs of their teams, know what motivates them and are aware of the dynamics of productivity.

Furthermore, it is necessary that where the employees from various cultures are recruited in an organization, an organizational culture must accommodate the values of individual cultures and cross-cultural differences should be catered well. For this purpose, employees who are aware of mechanism of operating in cross-cultural teams should be recruited or trained over time so that they are able to operate in team with agreeableness and conscience with a certain degree of extroversion which is necessary for a healthy team communication.

On the other hand, managers should be made capable of developing leaders within themselves over time. They should be able to understand the needs of their teams and address them accordingly. Similarly, they should also be able to address cross-cultural differences that may arise within their teams. Rather than play the role of authoritarian managers, leaders should be developed within the organizations that can develop teams and can also introduce and manage diversity in an organization.

In order to understand the traits borne by the employees, managers and the teams operating in cross-cultural environment, it is important to comprehend the factors driving these elements.

Leadership and Employees Behavior in International Business

Before discussing how managers and employees behave differently in national and international businesses, it is important to accept that individuals belonging to different cultures behave differently in a distinguished manner. Where employees are inducted in a cross-cultural organization, they are expected to borne certain traits such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extroversion, and openness. By the virtue of these traits employees exhibit a rather stable and rationale behavior with a certain degree of acceptability and tolerance to the views of other employees, well-amalgamated with emotionally smart behavior. Similarly, there is also a perception borne by employees which governs their locus of control, their view of their own abilities, self-esteem and the organizational hierarchy. These characteristics collectively determine the behavior of an employee.

Where personality traits of employees belonging to different cultures may vary, the factors governing them also bear a differentiating character. Human behavior is a complex system of beliefs which varies along with changes in situations and other external factors. With the changes in attitude, the job satisfaction and dissatisfaction of an employee is also dependent on factors which have an exclusive nature and may vary with culture. On the other hand, organizational commitment is also another dimension of employees' attitude which also culture dependent.

Where employees' attitude is governed by his vision and personality traits, the perception which is developed by them over time due to external stimulus also plays a role in determining employees' behavior governing their loyalty, commitment and the degree of risk taking. Where an organization employees individuals from various cultural backgrounds, they need to determine the causative agent of stress and anxiety which may affect the productivity of these employees. Also, the overwhelming effects of stereotyping must be considered while managing cross-cultural teams.

Where employees from various cultures show different characteristics, they are also motivated by different stimuli. Theorists have determined various factors governing the motivation level of employees. Several models have been constructed over times which are expected to drive the motivation of employees. One of these models is Need-based model which focuses on identifying the individual needs of employees such as comfortable work, employment, remuneration, growth etc. And using them to motivate the worker. Some of the theories supporting this need-based model are Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, McClelland's Learned Needs Framework, and Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory (Griffin & Michael, 2004).

Second model is known as process-based model. Under this doctrine, people are expected to act or respond in a certain manner with given external stimulus as long as they perceive such stimulus to be lucrative for them. This doctrine has given rise to the expectancy theory which shows how people's expectations about the outcomes determine their course of actions. Third model in the similar field is reinforcement model. This model presents a simple idea that positive and negative stimulus will instigate positive and negatives reactions respectively.

Other than the varied reactions of the employees, the leadership patterns shown by managers operating in cross-cultural environment also need to be different than those operating in domestic models. Managers working in international enterprises come across different situations governed by cultural forces; also they have to handle teams with diversity. Due to these variations, an authoritarian code of conduct can be practiced in multinational organizations. Rather, managers are expected to bear leadership traits which would motivate their teams and help them align their personal goals with organizational objectives.

Managers in today's robust environment are expected to lead and inspire the employees rather than control them. Where managers are expected to be leaders, we cannot ignore the personality and cultural backgrounds borne by such managers themselves. Nationality and culture plays a vital role in determining the leadership style of every manager. e.g. Asian managers are found to be more authoritative than American managers. Hence, not only employees but managers and their management styles are also subjected to cultural forces (Northouse, 2004).

Where managers are seen as prone to cultural forces, the decision making processes performed by such managers are also found to show variation in domestic and international models. In international enterprise, a manager is expected to have normative style of leadership rather than descriptive style. Under normative decision making, the manager comes up with rationale solution after thoroughly analyzing the situation in hand and reviewing the available solutions to combat such problems. On the other hand, the descriptive decision making style is limited by lack of insight and necessary knowledge and the decisions made are found to lack the necessary effectiveness (Kets De Vries, 2005).

Managers in international environment are expected to build mature teams. Such teams have defined objectives and structures which help them operate with clarity towards achievement of known goals. Furthermore mature teams are aware of the concept of symbiosis and celebrate their differences which promote their effectiveness. Rather than cultural values, group norms are more aggressive in such teams and instead of managers, mature teams are governed by leaders.

Hence, the definitions of managers, teams, and factors of motivations have different meaning in domestic environment and international business.


In order to elaborate the concept of manager's role in an international business, let us consider an example where a team contains members from various cultures such as British, Mexican, Brazilian, and Egyptian. Where the team has to make substantial decisions, as a manager, one needs to be aware of the preferences of such team members and also their cultural norms and values. In today's world, cultural competence is not restricted to the psychologists only, it is also equally beneficial for the managers as well. Sufficient know-how of the cultures of team members will help the manager cultivate neutral grounds of discussion between such teams.

When faced with such situation, the manager is expected to develop an environment of group think where the objectives of teams are uniform and instead of cultural forces, group norms are more powerful. It is necessary that the manager pays equal attention to the motives and expectations of…

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