Importance Of Cross Cultural Leadership

Keywords: crosscultural leadership benefits, culture and leadership, leadership international business

In the 21st century, many companies operate in international markets and leadership has to deal with the cross-cultural differences. Most researchers and practitioners are saying that ” the leader of tomorrow is someone who can jump across boundaries and disciplines and analyze cultural differences in global ” (Shinn, 2011).The leaders have to learn how to get along with the employees and leading a good team of different cultural backgrounds. And some researchers have been predicting that globalization, increased technology and changing demographics would create new challenges for leaders who must manage in a diverse workforce. All of those factors have increased the possibly that workers are from various nationalities, different culture backgrounds and a variety of religions will be required to work together.

The problem of Leadership seems to be particularly important in international and cross-cultural market where they run business. The leaders of these companies need to consider not only the country’s economic, political and environment, but also the cultural differences between their country and the international country. So the controversy is the leaders can successfully lead the team in the cross-cultural background or not. Different people hold different views. In my opinion, I think cross-cultural leadership will be success.

The purpose of this paper is to briefly introduce the importance of cross-cultural leadership in the international business. Then it will discuss the challenges and problems of the cross-cultural leadership and also will analyze the situation and applications with appropriate theories. Finally, the essay will end with a synthesized conclusion.

Importance of cross-cultural leadership

There are two kinds of understanding of cross-cultural leadership. One is from the point of view of the organization to understand the cross-cultural leadership, cross-cultural leadership is the leader in the implementation of an organization constituted by the staff of different nationalities, different values and different cultural backgrounds to guide and coordinate the behavior. From this perspective, cross-cultural leadership is present in among the multinational and transnational organizations. In addition, an understanding from the perspective of cultural exchange and cultural changes, the cross-cultural leadership as to adapt to a new wave of globalization and services worldwide wave of cultural leadership activities. From this perspective, cross-cultural leadership is a unique phenomenon to test the ability of leaders is able to lead and adapt the cultural challenges.

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Because the cultural variances are knowledge so important for the multinational companies’ leadership activities, it is significant for the leaders to develop good understanding about the key of different cultural variances (Rupp, 2011). Furthermore, nation’s specific cultural attributes play an important role in determining the selection of leadership style.

Challenge and application

Based on the previous studies, most of the suggestions for global leaders are relatively brief and generalized, such as understanding and respecting other cultures or fulfilling the cultural gaps. They fail to guide leaders in detail on how to behave and achieve these responsibilities. “With the acceleration of business globalization, more and more academics have growing concerns about the way cultural differences impact on leadership behaviours “(Littrell, 2002).

Grow up of cross-cultural leadership cause of the business internationalization and globalization, on the one hand, it led to the spread of the advanced leadership concepts, but on the other hand, has also led to some of the country’s leadership values began to decline. For example, in the process of internationalization of Japanese companies, Japan’s traditional values in life is difficult to tune with the wave of global leadership; In India, Nigeria and other developing countries, the concept of leadership has become increasingly complex, the evaluation also shows the diversity of leadership performance and leadership structure; even understanding of the leader is different in different countries. Global Leadership and Robert House (2004) argue that as the globalization of business continues to increase in the 21st century, organizations must consider the cultural differences. He also states that “as economic borders come down, cultural barriers go up, thus presenting new challenges and opportunities for culture-cultural leadership.”

The challenge of cross-cultural leadership is difficult in the world because of its diverse work force. Different national cultures play a critical role in success effective leadership in international businesses. The organizations are thus challenged by the cross-cultural leadership and needs to address the increasing culture diversity. One of the major barriers in any cross-cultural leadership situation is for the members of each cultural group to develop a full understanding of what leadership means to the other group. Some people thought that the cross-cultural leadership would destroy their original leadership style and rules.

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Hofstede (2003) has conducted a great number of empirical researches on the cultural differences and summarized his six cultural dimension theory, which systematically examines the cultural variances. Hofstede’s theories give an important guideline to the leaders let them to know the different cultures and decide how to lead in the cross-cultural country in order to avoid the culture conflict in the international leadership and success leading the teams.

The other challenge is in the different nation’s culture, the way of communication between leaders and employees is also different. An example is the leader of the United States is usually directly, they will point out the errors facing you directly, but the Japanese leaders tend to convey to indicate through pass the notes. If there are any negative reviews, the leader just through colleagues to pass that. Sometimes, if the leader doesn’t know the culture and leadership style in that country, it will engender the culture conflict and problem. Today’s multinational corporations requires leaders who have good ability to adapt the cross-culture environments rapidly, and can effective work with partners and leading employees of other cultures (Service and White, 2012).

As a result, the company changed the system of rationalization proposals to the collective recommendation system, bonuses to the team, and it achieved good result. Visible, cross-cultural leadership is a high reward demanding activities. According to Morrison (2000), the leaders should share the information and knowledge about their own culture, and also need to know how to adapt to the other cultures. Moreover, the leaders need to identify the gaps between different cultures and need to learn how to bridge them to avoid the conflict. To improve leadership performance, cross-cultural leader must be able to get all kinds of information in a timely and smooth flow of feedback in order to adjust their behavior.


GLOBE is a large research effort offering useful tools for understanding cultural effects and developing the sensitivity to achieve leadership effectiveness in a global context. It was designed to investigate the intricate effects of culture on business leadership and effectiveness, and the human impacts of societies studied (House & Javidan, 2004). It aims to fulfill the substantial gap on cross-cultural factors affecting organizational and leadership practices, by examining the roles of societal and organizational values. The strengths of GLOBE research are giving leaders a good starting point to explore the knowledge of cross-cultural leadership. More importantly, it also helps leaders to know effective behaviours in leadership implementation and how to behave properly across cultural contexts.


Source: House & Javidan (2004).


According to Service (2012) indicated that, the global venture problems occur because lack of leadership skills and knowledge in relating with the people in different culture backgrounds. Integration of technologies, nations, cultures, relationships, and interests continues to characterize the twenty-first century workplace (Potoker, 2011). “Leading across cultures requires specific skills, and organizations should provide formal training along with expatriate assignments to develop leaders who can achieve results in this demanding environment” (Mathis and Jackson, 2013).

From the above analysis, in the 21st century, cause the globalization, the demand of cross-cultural leaders will be more and more, and for leaders of today’s and tomorrow’s businesses, the ability to connect people and leading successful teams in a cross-cultural environment is an important competency. The organizations need to become more effective when they are able to identify and foster the appropriate leader behaviors for the relevant cultural situation. The leader should know well about the difference of the culture background in order to avoid the culture conflict and leading more effectively.

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