Leadership and Culture: Examining the Relationship between Cultural Background and Leadership Perceptions

Holt, Svetlana; Bjorklund, Robert; Green, Virginia
July 2009
Journal of Global Business Issues;Summer/Fall2009, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p149
Academic Journal
What makes an effective leader? Why is culture referred to as "the software of our minds"? How do we recognize an effective leader? What qualities do we hope to find in our "idealized" leader? Are our perceptions on leadership culture-bound? To achieve a more complete and accurate view of different cultures and their beliefs in the nature of humankind, as well as their leadership perspectives, this study first identifies a comprehensive inventory of leadership practices and attributes and then tests the bonds between leadership theory and cultural roots. Through a questionnaire designed for this study, participants from 19 different backgrounds expressed their perceptions of effective leaders. Preliminary results from the study suggest that perceptions of preferred leaders differ based on respondents' cultural background, age, and education - but not on their gender. By comparing and contrasting the cultural frameworks of leadership values and drawing conclusions as to a relationship between leadership expectations and culture, we contribute to understanding the importance of workforce diversity, attention to other cultures, and to the appreciation of the potential opportunities in cross-cultural communication.


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