Sociology Writing Help

How Culture Impact Leadership Behaviours

How Culture Impact Leadership Behaviours

Several Research has been done to explain the association between culture and leadership behaviors. This is because culture plays a significant role in defining leadership behaviours in different parts of the world. The success of leadership behaviours in one business environment does not guarantee success in another different environment. Leadership perceptions vary from one culture to another prompting the need to .understand how culture impact in defining preferred and acceptable leader behaviours. Leadership perceptions are considered to be common across universal cultures, but according to Dorfman et al. (1997), application of leadership skills is culturally specific. Different business environments call for different leadership behaviours. Environmental contexts, organizational culture, and variables are pertinent in defining the right and acceptable leadership behaviours (Schein, 2004). There are culturally contingent attributes that can help or hinder leadership. A strong attribute in one culture can become a significant impediment in another culture thus affecting the effective application of leadership skills (Grint, 2003). Leaders are a product of the unique cultures they have served in and the elements of the culture they have learned. Different cultures have different conceptions of important leadership attributes depending on the culture’s standards and nuances.

Cross-Cultural Leadership

Globe scholars describe leadership as the aptitude of a discrete to inspire, persuade, and facilitate people to contribute to the realization of organization goals. An effective leader should be able to influence people, work inconsistent with goals and vision of the organization, and win as many followers as possible in the organization. However, managing and influencing organizational members is not easy since they have varying interpersonal and intercultural attributes (Schnurr, & Zayts, 2013). Managing diverse workforce is a major challenge for leaders since it is impossible to learn and master the norms and values of every culture. According to Guthey and Jackson, leaders are a product of the cultural context they operate and serve. Values, norms, and beliefs of the workforce significantly influence the leadership approach a leader decides to take to achieve performance (Jackson, & Parry, 2011). 

Communication is a vital element in the leadership process. Without a proper communication strategy, a leader cannot effectively influence organizational members towards a common goal (Ashkanasy, 2002). Effective communication is required to bring together workforce from different cultural backgrounds and motivate them towards a common objective. Leaders achieve followership in an organization through effective leadership strategies and influence. Followership is vital in forging a workforce that works consistently with the organization’s mission and vision (Jackson, & Parry, 2011). Moreover, followership can only be achieved through interactive and discursive engagements. Undeniably, interactive and discursive energumens are only possible when a leader understands and effectively integrate into the situational cultural conditions (Dickson, Den Hartog, & Mitchelson, 2003). Consequently, in the process of becoming effectively integrated into the situational cultural conditions, a leader’s behaviours change to conform to the conditions thus becoming an acceptable leader (Schnurr, 2013).

A new organizational leader is responsible for challenging an organization’s existing culture and inspiring organizational members towards a shared vision. However, during the challenging process, it is vital for a leader to consider internal and external maintenance of cultural behaviours to ensure it fits the market profile. According to Schnurr (2009), leaders should learn and incorporate the various “communities of practice into their distinctive practices to decide in specific situations what the practice mean, when to comply with them and when to ignore them.” The community of practice shapes and influences the customs and values of the workplace culture (Geletkanycz, 1997). Therefore, a leader does not have an option rather than to incorporate the communities of practices in his/her values in a bid to achieve acceptable leadership behaviours. 

Leadership in the cross-cultural context requires profound cultural intelligence in a bid to avoid cultural factors that might impede the effectiveness of leadership behaviors. Effective leadership in a cross-cultural context requires a leader to have knowledge about adequate behaviours in the workforce and the values attached to certain behaviours that people deem appropriate in that context (Ghemawat, & Reiche, 2011). In a bid to effectively understand, the behaviours and values attributed to different cultures in different regions and contexts, numerous model have been developed. Hofstede’s model is one of one of the models used widely in categorizing different cultural scopes. The five cultural proportions according to Hofstede are power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, femininity (Hofstede, 2017). For instance, power distance in a particular context can influence the type of leadership to be applied. It is vital for a leader to understand the extent to which a particular culture accepts power distance. Distribution of power is perceived differently from one culture to another. In certain societies, power is unevenly distributed while in others it is evenly distributed. However, the organizational hierarchy is inescapable in most organizations.

In most organizations, organizational members are required to show maximum respect to their superiors. Therefore, in a cultural context where the society does not value power distance, the success of an organization with organizational hierarchies is undermined. For a leader to effectively operate in such a context, he/she will have to learn and understand the culture in a bid to adjust accordingly. In a society with low power distance, effective decision-making is affected since every member’s contribution is vital in the process. The Hofstede’s model indicates that there a great variation of perceptions about how behaviours in a cultural context affect the effectiveness of leadership models (Guthey & Jackson, 2011).

On the other hand, Globe’s six cultural dimension is anther classical that tries to elucidate the association between culture and leadership. The Globe’s concept endorses a six leadership dimensions that are culturally accepted in the society. The six leadership dimensions include charismatic value-based leadership, team oriented leadership, participative leadership, human-oriented leadership, autonomous leadership, self-protective leadership (House et al., 2004). The Globe research was based on 21 attributes of leadership and behaviours that play a role in determining leadership effectiveness. Moreover, 35 universal specific characteristics of a leader that are viewed as contributors to success in certain cultures and impediments in others were put into perspective during the study. Consequently, the study established that a wide variation in values and practices of culture and perceptions of effective leadership behaviours.

Concisely, culture is about norms, values, and practices. The norms, values, and practices encourage or discourages a leader to practice certain traits in an organization. Integration of a leader into the norms, values, and practices of a culture is inescapable due to the power of culture. Culture determines what is right and wrong in the context it is being applied.  Therefore, culture influences acceptable leadership behaviours by setting standards that a leader has to meet in a bid to function effectively in that cultural context. 

Criticism of Generalization

Despite forming a base for relating culture and leadership behaviours, the Hofstede and Globe approaches have been widely criticized for failing to capture important cultural aspects pertinent in shaping leadership behaviours. One of the aspects of the Hofstede’s approach that is highly criticized is a generalization of people’s perceptions and failure to understand that culture is a complex thing that needs proper dissection in a bid to understand people effectively (Guthey, & Jackson, 2011). Therefore, Hofstede’s approach was required to apply a more comprehensive perspective in an attempt to differentiate stereotypes from what people do in reality. For instance, during research interviews, leaders may explain their leadership styles in a way that they do not exercise them in the real situation (Schnurr & Zayts, 2012). Therefore, the Hofstede’s approach ought to investigate te how cultural impact leadership behaviours in an in-depth perspective rather than mere generalization.

On the other hand, the Globe Six cultural and leadership dimensions approach is criticized for various reasons. Generalization of national culture is one of the problems that analysts find in the Globe’s research (Jackson, & Parry, 2011). In the context of a nation, there are various cultural differences due to ethnic diversities and cultural clusters (Dorfman, 2003). Therefore, depicting a nation as having a specific culture undermines the success of the Globe’s approach. Moreover, according to Jackson and Parry, the Globe’s approach is mostly centered on the follower’s perspective hence it fails to conceptualize the problem in a more comprehensive manner (2008). According to Steward, other than followership, leadership also affects culture and plays a role in determining national culture. Therefore, the Globe’s approach ought to examine the role of leadership in shaping national culture in the society. Moreover, Jepsen asserts that the Globe’s approach is mostly focused on how culture shapes organizational culture rather than effective leadership in an organization (2007).

Culture-Specific Perspective

Different leadership behaviours are applied differently depending on the specificity of the culture. Despite people being in the same cultural context, they think, perceive, and rule conditions differently. People’s perceptions are not only shaped by the entire culture but also by their personalities and subcultures. Therefore, it is vital to establish how custom, meaning, and beliefs affect an entire native culture. Culture-specific perspective is the best approach to understanding how concepts, measures, and methods apply in diverse cultures. According to (Dorfman et al., 1997), specific leadership behaviours only apply in specific cultural. For instance, a leadership style that fits a certain culture effectively may fail to fit in a different culture due to the personal perceptions and subcultures in that context. Therefore, the context in which culture is taking place also affects the effectiveness of the overall culture in influencing acceptable leadership behaviors.

 Variations in local norms and values significantly affect the notion of generalizing that similar culture binds people in a particular context. According to Schein (2004), the existence of subcultures, personal perceptions, and variance of local norms affects the perception that a particular culture ties a whole community together. For instance, various departments in an organization can have different norms and values that they observe. The introduction of a new overall leadership can fail to take shape in such a situation because departmental culture is so entrenched in the organization (Lewis, 1996). Therefore, a generalization of a culture may affect the effective shaping of acceptable leadership behaviors. Some generalizations may be based on stereotypes hence failing to capture important determinants that encompass a culture. It is difficult to alter norms and values in a situation where subcultures are strongly entrenched in a cultural context.

According to Schein, goals, purpose and composition of people significantly affects leadership behaviours. Schnurr (2013) suggests that change of leadership should be accompanied by a change in leadership styles. According to Jackson and Parry (2008), condition, time, organizational climate and structure of the organization are some of the subcultural factors that affect leadership behaviours. According to Guthey and Jackson (2010), it important for leaders to acknowledge the dynamics that exist in a bid to understand how they impact on gaining acceptable leadership behaviors.

Influence of Leadership Skills on Quality Working Culture

Organizational culture plays a major role in shaping the behaviours, attitudes, and values. Despite culture shaping the behaviours, organizational leaders have a role to play to play in influencing organizational behaviour. According to Holmes (2007), leaders should impact organizational members with positive morals to enhance accountability, adaptability, collaboration, commitment, and effective communication. Leading by example plays a vital role in shaping organizational culture. According to Schein (2004), leadership is tied to cultural rituals and artefacts of an organization. Therefore, a leader has a role to play in enhancing, shaping, and influencing organizational culture. Effective leadership should set a platform that fosters positive attitude and inspiration of workers towards achieving a common objective.

After a leader has become accepted in a particular organizational setting, the leader starts to create culture. According to Schein (2013), a leader makes Creation of culture possible through the imposition of values and assumptions to a group of people. However, according to Schein, it is difficult for most leaders to effectively impose new culture in an organization with a well-established organizational culture. Therefore, it becomes important for leaders to understand the behaviours and cultural diversity that exist in an organization before imposing a new culture on the organizational members. Evidently, the already existing culture plays a pertinent role in defining the leadership strategy that will apply in an organization (Dorfman, 2003). There is no specific culture for an organization; however, each organization determines that type of organizational culture to adopt in a bid to achieve organizational objectives successfully.

Culture and leadership behaviours are closely intertwined, and they play a dynamic role in the achievement of business. Understanding cultural context and situational conditions are vital in establishing acceptable leadership behaviour. Different aspects such as time, business environment, organizational culture, and native culture are important to consider when establishing leadership behaviours. Leadership aspects that are successful in one cultural context might become an impediment in another cultural context. Therefore, it is vital to consider a more comprehensive approach that depicts important cultural aspects that shape leadership behaviours. Change in leadership behaviours is vital a cross-cultural context since in that context people have different values and norms.


Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities. London: New Left Books.

Ashkanasy, N. M. (2002). “Leadership in the Asian Century: Lessons from GLOBE.” International Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 5(3): 150–163.

Dickson, M. W., Den Hartog, D. N., and Mitchelson, J. K. (2003). “Research on leadership in a cross-cultural context: Making progress, and raising new questions.” The Leadership Quarterly, 14(6): 729–768.

Dorfman, P. (2003). International and cross-cultural leadership research. In B.J. Punnett & O. Shenkar (Eds.), Handbook of International Management Research (265-355). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Dorfman, P., Howell, J.P., Hibini, S., Lee J.K., Tate, U. & Bautista, A. (1997). Leadership in Western and Asian countries: commonalities and differences in effective leadership processes across cultures. Leadership Quarterly, 8(3), 233-274.

Geletkanycz, M. A. (1997). “The salience of ‘culture’s consequences’: The effects of cultural values on top executive commitment to the status quo.” Strategic Management Journal, 18(8): 615–634.

Grint, K. (2003). The arts of leadership. Effective Educational Leadership, 89-108.

Guthey, E. & Jackson, B. (2011). Cross-cultural leadership revisited. In A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Gritt, B. Jackson, M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Leadership (165-178). London: Sage

 Hofstede, G. National culture: Germany. Retrieved from

Holmes, J. (2008). Gendered talk at work: Constructing gender identity through workplace discourse (Vol. 3). John Wiley & Sons.

Holmes, J., Marra, M., & Vine, B. (2011). Leadership, discourse, and ethnicity. Oxford University Press.

House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Jackson, B. & Parry, K. (2011). A very short, fairly interesting, and reasonably cheap book about studying leadership, 2nd ed. London: Sage. 

Jepsen, D. (2009). Studying leadership at cross-country level: A Critical analysis. Leadership, 5(1), 61-80.  

Lewis, R. D. (1996). When cultures collide: leading across cultures. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Schein, E. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco CA:  Jossey Bass.

Schnurr, S. & Zayts, O. (2013) “I can’t remember them ever not doing what I tell them!” Negotiating face and power relations in ‘upwards’ refusals in multicultural workplaces in Hong Kong.” Intercultural Pragmatics, 10(4), 593616 (1612-295X).

Schnurr, S. (2009). Leadership humor and workplace culture. In leadership discourse at work. Interaction of humor, gender, and workplace culture. Basingstoke England: Palgrave Macmillan, Ch. 5, pp. 73-103. 

Schnurr, S. (2013). Exploring professional communication: Language in action. Abingdon: Routledge.

Steward, C. (2007). Creolization: History, ethnography, theory. Walnut Creek, CA:  Left Coast Press. 

Order Now