Cross-Cultural Leadership

Cross-Cultural Leadership

Diğdem Eskiyörük
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3744-2.ch002
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This chapter aims to explain how the differences in national cultures have an impact on understanding the concept of leadership and leadership styles in an intercultural perspective. Leaders need to recognize the culture of their community and be aware of cultural differences. These cultural characteristics affect the behavior and attitudes of the leaders. Leaders need to understand the effects and possible consequences of these cultural differences at the organizational and managerial levels for effective management and organizational success. In this respect, the concept of leadership and the process of development of leadership are examined in a literature review. Following the analysis of leadership theories and leadership styles, the cultural dimensions of Hofstede are examined in the section of cultural differentiation and dimensions. Finally, national culture dimensions in cross-cultural leadership were examined.
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Leadership is the ability to persuade a group of people to willingly make efforts to achieve predetermined goals by gathering them around a common goal. In this context, it is important for leaders to recognize the culture of the society in which they operate, in order to develop leadership behaviors that are compatible with the cultural values ​​of the group they manage. Leaders need to be able to develop leadership approaches that are compatible with both their own cultural values ​​and the cultural values ​​of the group they manage, and should be able to manage these differences by making them advantageous. Leaders' behaviors and attitudes that are not appropriate to the culture of their audience will bring many problems in the company. It is very important to understand the phenomenon of leadership from an intercultural perspective and to recognize the development process of leadership.

In the study, which is a literature-based effort, the effects of differences in national cultures on the perception of leadership styles from an intercultural perspective were evaluated. What is the most effective leadership style that is always and under all circumstances? Rather than seeking answers to the question, the leader can recognize that the culture of the society in which he is living, to understand cultural differences as aware, to manage these differences in the best way to ensure that his audience remains loyal to him can be said to be the best way. Each society reveals its effective and absolute leader from its own cultural perspective. The leader reflects the culture of the society as a mirror. In short, what is the best leadership style? The answer to the question is again given by the society itself. Today's multinational organizational structures have created the phenomenon of intercultural leadership. Understanding intercultural leadership and implementing this leadership process will ensure effective management.


The phenomenon of leadership, which is very important in terms of group success, has long been an issue that has attracted people's attention (Bolat, Seymen, Bolat, & Erdem, 2016, pp.179). Leadership, which has aroused curiosity in both organization and management theorists from the past to the present day and where various opinions were expressed, is innate for some while it is acquired later for the others. The new conditions created by changes in many social, economic, cultural, and technological, etc. fields have revealed different dimensions and characteristics of leadership and this new formation and new ideas have led to the development of new leadership approaches over time.

Leadership is a set of knowledge and skills to gather a group of people around specific goals and to mobilize them to achieve those goals (Demirel & Kişman, 2014, pp. 690). In another aspect, leadership is defined as a social process by which an individual influences the behavior of others, without the use of violence or threats (Bolat, Seymen, Bolat, & Erdem 2016, pp. 179). In trait theory, which is the first study on the concept of leadership, it was argued that the most important factor determining the success of the leader was the characteristics of the leader. Afterward, behavioral theories were developed by focusing on the behavior of leaders with the thought that the personal characteristics of leaders are insufficient to define effective leaders and their successes. In later periods, some situational theories have been put forward by suggesting there were other factors affecting leadership, that leadership behavior may change according to circumstances, and that optimal leadership behavior can be shaped according to situations. In the following periods, modern leadership theories were developed.

Until the 1980s, the dominance of Anglo-American intellectual and cultural fiction in research on leadership and the lack of proper investigation of the effects of various cultures on leadership led to a misconception that leadership behaviors that are effective in a society could be valid everywhere. As a result of many studies on leadership in non-Western societies after the 1980s, it was found that leadership behaviors vary from society to society. In addition, the national culture has been come up to be an important factor in defining leadership behaviors in different societies and in comprehension of these behaviors by the followers of the leader. Considering this matter, it is usual for individuals who are known as leaders to behave in accordance with the widespread cultural values of the society in which they grow. Therefore, it can be stated that national culture is an important factor in shaping leadership behaviors and perceiving these behaviors by the followers of the leader (Çalışkan & Özkoç, 2016, pp.240).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Individualism: The belief that the individual is dominant in social life and that the interests of the individual are more important and superior than those of the society.

Collectivism: The view that social structure, group aims, and group norms have priority over individual rights.

Culture: A structure of values, beliefs, norms, symbols, traditions, customs and meanings that have been learned, adopted and shared from the past to the present, giving a society a different identity from other societies.

Interactive Leadership: The process by which the leader is able to mobilize them by rewarding or punishing their followers with a focus on improving the performance of the organization and the group in order to maintain the existing order.

Cross-Cultural Leadership: The process of being able to unite everyone around a certain vision and effectively manage these cultural differences by being aware of the cultures and cultural differences of the leader and her followers.

Leadership: The power and ability to persuade a group of people to act in accordance with specific goals and objectives.

Transformational Leadership: The process by which the leader is able to mobilize his / her audience with high loyalty and cooperation by encouraging the change in their thoughts, beliefs and values ??in order to realize the vision created by them.

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