Attitudes towards leadership : Asia, America Europe
The three predominant styles of management come from Asia, America and Europe. But perhaps this is not illustrative enough. Let me rephrase it - the three pre-dominant styles of management are the Hong-Kong/Japanese, United States and Franco-German . Perhaps, I am not qualified (or as I like to put it, polluted) enough to pepper my thought with manager-ese jargon, but based on my working experience on three continents, I would say this would be the case.
But before going further, let me clarify what does not constitute an individual style of management. For example India - we do not have a style of management that is entirely our own, unless of course you would like to classify the bania style of management (what with its glib way of talking into and out of situations). I believe that the pre-liberal India had a a leadership which is not too uncommon across the world. This is what we call babu-dom and the rest of the world calls bureaucratic. In other words, there was no leadership. Increasingly, we have been influenced by the American way of working, not in small part because a large number of expatriates worked in America and among other things, built the frikking Silicon Valley.
On the other end of Asia, there is the Hong Kong-Japanese way of leadership. Japan has a style of leadership (Howard Stringer of Sony non-withstanding) that is to a large part influenced by its feudalistic society. I, of course, refer to the Zaibatsu and Keiretsu systems. I believe that the Hong-Kong/China systems of large businesses have increasingly followed this approach. With it comes a highly stratified system of management (what I believe Prof. Mills calls Directive Leadership). However, this brings in itself a sufficient lack of adaptability. I believe the Indian leadership, with its touch of Asian discretion and mixing business and personal life, along with sufficient individualism (which leads to what the good professor calls Empowering leadership) bridges the continents beautifully.
However, I take exception to the fact that political ties are less common in Asian businesses. If anything, they are more so. This is usually because the corporate process is often much more opaque in Asia, which leads executives to seek political intervention on several issues. Take for example the issue about Reliance Industries and the CDMA/GSM war in India. There was heavy multi-party political influences.
Which leads the remaining style of leadership - the Franco-German. A style which you are born into. This style is getting increasingly threatened by the scales of efficiency and production driven management. It is rare to see European companies laying of workers. However, ST Microelectronics, a French-Italian company is cutting jobs in Europe while increasing positions in Asia. If anything else, this is a change in the thinking of European leadership who view Asia as a threat to their way of privelege.
I think the world is adapting to the Asian-American way of leadership, with its peculiar brand of passion towards work, late night pizzas and an Asian sense of respect and honor towards work and peers.
Tikka burgers anyone?