These charts reveal how to lead people in 50 countries

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Different cultures can have radically different leadership styles.

Understanding them is key to international success, according to British linguist Richard Lewis, founder of consulting firm Richard Lewis Communications.

In Asian countries, for instance, leadership is portrayed as a circle, where consensus rule is valued and leaders are seen as benevolent.

In America (at least outside startup culture), leadership looks more pyramidal, with orders relayed from the top to the bottom and people at every level looking out for themselves.

To learn more about these fascinating cultural norms, Lewis gave us permission to publish the following leadership diagrams from “Cross-Cultural Communication: A Visual Approach,” along with his commentary.

China.RLCRichard Lewis CommunicationsThe leadership style in China would not be effective in countries such as Holland and Spain.

 

In Argentina, “nepotism is common, and staff are manipulated by a variety of persuasive methods ranging from paternalism to outright coercion.”

In Argentina, "nepotism is common, and staff are manipulated by a variety of persuasive methods ranging from paternalism to outright coercion."

Richard Lewis Communications

Australian managers are much more effective when they “sit in the ring with the mates.” They also exert more influence when they crack jokes, use cynicism, and curse.

Australian managers are much more effective when they "sit in the ring with the mates." They also exert more influence when they crack jokes, use cynicism, and curse.

Richard Lewis Communications

In Austria, business leadership is autocratic. “Workers tend to show exaggerated respect to seniors and are uncomfortable with a system where their voices are rarely heard.”

In Austria, business leadership is autocratic. "Workers tend to show exaggerated respect to seniors and are uncomfortable with a system where their voices are rarely heard."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Belarus, “leadership is of the old-fashioned autocratic kind, power distance is steadfastly maintained, consensus is rarely sought enthusiastically, and female leaders are rare.”

In Belarus, "leadership is of the old-fashioned autocratic kind, power distance is steadfastly maintained, consensus is rarely sought enthusiastically, and female leaders are rare."

Richard Lewis Communications

Flemish Belgian “bosses are relaxed and low-key, and it is generally accepted that decision-making will be consensual.” In Walloon Belgium, “all final decisions rest with the boss.”

Flemish Belgian "bosses are relaxed and low-key, and it is generally accepted that decision-making will be consensual." In Walloon Belgium, "all final decisions rest with the boss."

Richard Lewis Communications

Brazilian managers “normally rule in an autocratic manner,” but they often strive to be encouraging and cheerful with subordinates.

Brazilian managers "normally rule in an autocratic manner," but they often strive to be encouraging and cheerful with subordinates.

Richard Lewis Communications

“In business, Canadian managers behave in a subdued manner in comparison with their American counterparts and are expected by their staff to be truthful, trusting, and egalitarian.”

"In business, Canadian managers behave in a subdued manner in comparison with their American counterparts and are expected by their staff to be truthful, trusting, and egalitarian."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Consensus is generally highly valued in China, but in companies controlled by the state, a leadership group will decide policy.”

"Consensus is generally highly valued in China, but in companies controlled by the state, a leadership group will decide policy."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Czechs resent power imposed from the outside and never accepted inequality imposed by foreign rulers. Egalitarianism and democratic institutions are instinctively desired.”

"Czechs resent power imposed from the outside and never accepted inequality imposed by foreign rulers. Egalitarianism and democratic institutions are instinctively desired."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Though top managers can exert considerable pressure, Danes are skillful in maintaining a decidedly congenial atmosphere in discussion. Horizontal communication is widespread and generally successful.”

"Though top managers can exert considerable pressure, Danes are skillful in maintaining a decidedly congenial atmosphere in discussion. Horizontal communication is widespread and generally successful."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Egypt, “dictators, the Islamic church, and the military jostle for influence. Business leaders draw on great experience and try, not always successfully, to avoid politics.”

In Egypt, "dictators, the Islamic church, and the military jostle for influence. Business leaders draw on great experience and try, not always successfully, to avoid politics."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Estonians are very individualistic. Each person feels capable and prefers to lead rather than be led. Status is gained by achievement, decisiveness, and energy.”

"Estonians are very individualistic. Each person feels capable and prefers to lead rather than be led. Status is gained by achievement, decisiveness, and energy."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Finnish managers have the reputation of being decisive at crunch time and do not hesitate to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff and help out in crises.”

"Finnish managers have the reputation of being decisive at crunch time and do not hesitate to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff and help out in crises."

Richard Lewis Communications

In France, authority is typically centered around the chief executive, and managers see themselves as valued leaders in society.

In France, authority is typically centered around the chief executive, and managers see themselves as valued leaders in society.

Richard Lewis Communications

German managers strive to create a perfect system. “They work long hours, obey the rules … and insist on fair play.”

German managers strive to create a perfect system. "They work long hours, obey the rules ... and insist on fair play."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Greece, “in the world of business, management is autocratic.”

In Greece, "in the world of business, management is autocratic."

Richard Lewis Communications

“A conspicuous absence of military victories and political triumphs has made Hungarians adopt a cynical attitude to any kind of leadership.”

"A conspicuous absence of military victories and political triumphs has made Hungarians adopt a cynical attitude to any kind of leadership."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Nepotism is rife in traditional Indian companies. Family members hold key positions and work in close unison.”

"Nepotism is rife in traditional Indian companies. Family members hold key positions and work in close unison."

Richard Lewis Communications

Indonesian managers tend to be indifferent to the business process, resulting in leadership often being entrusted to a resident Chinese professional class.

Indonesian managers tend to be indifferent to the business process, resulting in leadership often being entrusted to a resident Chinese professional class.

Richard Lewis Communications

“Spiritual leadership is dominant” in Iran. Government leaders “must be a fully qualified theologian, selected by experts.”

"Spiritual leadership is dominant" in Iran. Government leaders "must be a fully qualified theologian, selected by experts."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Since the establishment of democracy, Irish leaders have generally emerged as charismatic persons with an educated background. Those who have the ability to persuade and arbitrate are most likely to rise to the top.”

"Since the establishment of democracy, Irish leaders have generally emerged as charismatic persons with an educated background. Those who have the ability to persuade and arbitrate are most likely to rise to the top."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Lacking an aristocracy, Israeli society attaches importance to achievement and dynamism when looking for leadership.”

"Lacking an aristocracy, Israeli society attaches importance to achievement and dynamism when looking for leadership."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Italians are comfortable in a hierarchy skillfully led by persons of noble birth or from traditionally eminent or wealthy families.”

"Italians are comfortable in a hierarchy skillfully led by persons of noble birth or from traditionally eminent or wealthy families."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Japan, “ideas often originate on the factory floor or with other lower-level sources. Suggestions, ideas, and inventions make their way up the company hierarchy by a process of collecting signatures among workers and middle managers.”

In Japan, "ideas often originate on the factory floor or with other lower-level sources. Suggestions, ideas, and inventions make their way up the company hierarchy by a process of collecting signatures among workers and middle managers."

Richard Lewis Communications

Korean “chaebols,” or conglomerates, are typically family-owned. “Nepotism is rampant, with all sons, brothers, nephews, etc., holding key positions.”

Korean "chaebols," or conglomerates, are typically family-owned. "Nepotism is rampant, with all sons, brothers, nephews, etc., holding key positions."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Latvians are individualistic,” and everyone wants to be a manager. “However, there is a tendency to respect firm, confident, knowledgeable leadership.”

"Latvians are individualistic," and everyone wants to be a manager. "However, there is a tendency to respect firm, confident, knowledgeable leadership."

Richard Lewis Communications

“The older generation of Lithuanian managers has not completely freed themselves of bureaucratic habits from Soviet times, but young leadership is developing a more dynamic style, with Nordic encouragement.”

"The older generation of Lithuanian managers has not completely freed themselves of bureaucratic habits from Soviet times, but young leadership is developing a more dynamic style, with Nordic encouragement."

Richard Lewis Communications

“The Mexican leader is a family man and a good Catholic; his shrewdness and skills in business are not allowed to intrude upon this basic goodness,” and “his subordinates obey him without question.”

"The Mexican leader is a family man and a good Catholic; his shrewdness and skills in business are not allowed to intrude upon this basic goodness," and "his subordinates obey him without question."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Leadership in the Netherlands is based on merit, competence, and achievement. Managers are vigorous and decisive, but consensus is mandatory, as there are many key players in the decision-making process.”

"Leadership in the Netherlands is based on merit, competence, and achievement. Managers are vigorous and decisive, but consensus is mandatory, as there are many key players in the decision-making process."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Most New Zealanders are brought up to respect authority, and managers have a relatively easy task as long as they function in a calm, egalitarian, and reasoning manner.”

"Most New Zealanders are brought up to respect authority, and managers have a relatively easy task as long as they function in a calm, egalitarian, and reasoning manner."

Richard Lewis Communications

“In democratic Norway, the boss is very much in the center of things, and staff enjoy access to him or her most of the time.”

"In democratic Norway, the boss is very much in the center of things, and staff enjoy access to him or her most of the time."

Richard Lewis Communications

Pakistani business leaders “function in a hierarchical style, but have to accept certain constraints imposed by the military, and increasingly, Islamic leaders.”

Pakistani business leaders "function in a hierarchical style, but have to accept certain constraints imposed by the military, and increasingly, Islamic leaders."

Richard Lewis Communications

Despite external pressures, the Polish retain many traditional romantic values. However, “meritocracy now dominates advancement in Polish society.”

Despite external pressures, the Polish retain many traditional romantic values. However, "meritocracy now dominates advancement in Polish society."

Richard Lewis Communications

Portuguese “business leaders and many political figures come from the leading families,” and “staff are generally obedient and deferential.”

Portuguese "business leaders and many political figures come from the leading families," and "staff are generally obedient and deferential."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Efforts made by managers to promote business through official channels only are likely to founder on the rocks of bureaucracy and Russian apathy. Using key people and personal alliances, the ‘system’ is often bypassed and a result achieved.”

"Efforts made by managers to promote business through official channels only are likely to founder on the rocks of bureaucracy and Russian apathy. Using key people and personal alliances, the 'system' is often bypassed and a result achieved."

Richard Lewis Communications

“Apart from questions of clan hierarchy, power distance is low and leadership is very democratic” in Scotland.

"Apart from questions of clan hierarchy, power distance is low and leadership is very democratic" in Scotland.

Richard Lewis Communications

“In Serbia, the man in power can get away with a lot.”

"In Serbia, the man in power can get away with a lot."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Slovakia, “an autocratic style is favored over a consensual one. Few people are anxious to embrace responsibility.”

In Slovakia, "an autocratic style is favored over a consensual one. Few people are anxious to embrace responsibility."

Richard Lewis Communications

Slovene leaders are “characterized more by pragmatism than idealism or rhetoric.”

Slovene leaders are "characterized more by pragmatism than idealism or rhetoric."

Richard Lewis Communications

Spanish managers are autocratic and charismatic. “They work less from logic than from intuition, and pride themselves on their personal influence on all their staff members.”

Spanish managers are autocratic and charismatic. "They work less from logic than from intuition, and pride themselves on their personal influence on all their staff members."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Sub-Saharan African, “traditionally many societies were based on clans and lineages.” However, clan and tribal influence is weakening due to economic changes.

In Sub-Saharan African, "traditionally many societies were based on clans and lineages." However, clan and tribal influence is weakening due to economic changes.

Richard Lewis Communications

Swedish management is decentralized and democratic. The rationale is that better-informed employees are more motivated and perform better. The drawback is that decisions can be delayed.

Swedish management is decentralized and democratic. The rationale is that better-informed employees are more motivated and perform better. The drawback is that decisions can be delayed.

Richard Lewis Communications

“There is a deep-rooted distrust of government in Switzerland, and the system of rule resembles the American in its intricate array of checks and balances.”

"There is a deep-rooted distrust of government in Switzerland, and the system of rule resembles the American in its intricate array of checks and balances."

Richard Lewis Communications

In Thailand, “the King’s power emanates from the people; he is Head of State and of the armed forces, and upholder of Buddhism and all other religions.”

In Thailand, "the King's power emanates from the people; he is Head of State and of the armed forces, and upholder of Buddhism and all other religions."

Richard Lewis Communications

The first president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, “has emerged as the model Turkish leader — brave, firm, decisive, innovative, above all humane and commonsensical.”

The first president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, "has emerged as the model Turkish leader — brave, firm, decisive, innovative, above all humane and commonsensical."

Richard Lewis Communications

British managers “are diplomatic, tactful, laid back, casual, reasonable, helpful, willing to compromise, and seeking to be fair.” However, they can be ruthless when necessary.

British managers "are diplomatic, tactful, laid back, casual, reasonable, helpful, willing to compromise, and seeking to be fair." However, they can be ruthless when necessary.

Richard Lewis Communications

“The Ukrainian concept of leadership is derived from many widely differing styles in history.” Leadership is characterized by “autocracy, political manipulation, tendency towards corruption, and its preference for males.”

"The Ukrainian concept of leadership is derived from many widely differing styles in history." Leadership is characterized by "autocracy, political manipulation, tendency towards corruption, and its preference for males."

Richard Lewis Communications

American managers are “assertive, aggressive, goal and action oriented, confident, vigorous, optimistic, and ready for change. They are capable of teamwork and corporate spirit, but they value individual freedom. Their first interest is furthering their own career.”

American managers are "assertive, aggressive, goal and action oriented, confident, vigorous, optimistic, and ready for change. They are capable of teamwork and corporate spirit, but they value individual freedom. Their first interest is furthering their own career."

Richard Lewis Communications

Vietnamese leaders “must possess a good war record and adhere to socialist thinking.” However, managers in the south are more Westernized.

Vietnamese leaders "must possess a good war record and adhere to socialist thinking." However, managers in the south are more Westernized.

Richard Lewis Communications

“Music, choirs, and rugby are binding factors, and the relative smallness of many Welsh enterprises removes possible elements of pomposity or excessive charisma.”

"Music, choirs, and rugby are binding factors, and the relative smallness of many Welsh enterprises removes possible elements of pomposity or excessive charisma."

Richard Lewis Communications

Source: Business Insider

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