Impacts of globalization on leadership through changes of corporate culture

By | May 23, 2013

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Table of contents

1.     Q1…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

1.1           Workforce diversity………………………………………………………………………. 2

1.1.1     Review of workforce diversity…………………………………………………. 2

1.1.2     Solutions to the workforce diversity issues: leadership traits and skills 3

1.2           Challenge from economic policy……………………………………………………… 6

1.2.1     Review of the economic policy related issues…………………………….. 6

1.2.2     Solutions to the workforce diversity issues: leadership traits and skills 7

2.     Q2…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

2.1           Focus and objectives of culture and leadership…………………………………. 9

2.1.1     Focus of corporate culture……………………………………………………….. 9

2.1.2     Focus of leadership……………………………………………………………….. 10

2.2           Impacts of globalization on leadership through changes of corporate culture     10

2.2.1     Learning culture (learning new ways of doing business) and the leadership implications 10

2.2.1.1 Becoming highly innovative and creative…………………………… 11

2.2.1.2 Being open to new experiences………………………………………… 12

2.2.2     Diversity culture and the leadership implications………………………. 13

2.2.2.1 Being willing to listen and learn (different cultural background) 13

2.2.2.2 Being curious about the world…………………………………………. 14

2.2.2.3 Facilitate corporate communication…………………………………… 14

Reference……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

 

1.        Q1. 

What are some leadership challenges today? (For example, economic policy, climate change, world of hunger, diversity). Which of the leadership traits or skills are most relevant to address that challenge?

 

 

1.1    Workforce diversity

 

1.1.1            Review of workforce diversity

 

According to Barak (2010), the term diversity refers to a wide connotation including several different facets besides race and gender. And in the workplace context, diversity involves differences in age, gender, religion, income, education, race, sexual orientation and so on. And with the influence of globalization, the diversify workforce management has aroused great attention by every company and organization. And furthermore, the business success for an organization largely depends on the whether it welcomes, understand and practice diversity management in an effective way. Because only people from different backgrounds, religions and geographic regions are able to work together as a team towards the same goals in an organization, the prosperous future of the organization can be predicted.

 

 

On the one hand, if the leaders can manage the diversity in workplace successfully, there are many advantages. First of all, different employees from different background may bring individual gifts and experiences to their company, which invariably attribute to the overall growth for the company. And the diversity in workplace also adds up to the richness for the environment that every person in the company can devote their efforts to get over organizational troubles and problems, which is good for the betterment of the institution. And then, surrounding around employees with diversity skills and viewpoints from different cultures, the company can own wider understanding on the customers’ needs and requirements from the global scale, which helps organization to formulate a better business strategy and plans by the supports of the big pool of different suggestion and solutions. (Bell 2011)

 

 

On the other hand, there are also many challenges for leaders to meet. The communication challenge due to diversity workforce may occur which may bring perceptual barriers, cultural barriers as well as languages barriers to be removed in order to facilitate the success of these diversity programs. And these diversities from employees often bring the ineffective communication in some important business goals and result in misunderstanding, low working morale and incohesive working teams. And there are also some people refusing to accept the fact of the difference and diversity in their workplace compared to the previous time, which may also hinder the process of the origination. At last, during the process of implementing the diversity policies, there are often overriding challenge that some strategies aimed to maximize the advantage of diversity workforce should be carried out. (Nowak 2011)

 

1.1.2            Solutions to the workforce diversity issues: leadership traits and skills

 

Since the diversity workforce management offers so many benefits and challenges for the leader, it is significant for leaders to manage it well by the help of several leadership traits and skills.

 

 

On the ground of Stogdill (1974 cited in Lussier 2009), people are born with some certain kinds of traits, several of which are particular suitable to leadership. And the good leaders often have the sufficient combination of traits. Figure 1.0 shows the important traits and necessary skills for a good leader to possess.

 

Figure 1.0 Important traits and necessary skills for a good leader

 

 

Source: Stogdill1974, Handbook of leadership: A survey of the literature, Free Press, New York,

 

On the grounds of the requirements on diversity force management, the necessary traits and skills needed by the leaders are as below.

 

 

First of all, it is necessary for the leader to act confidently that he or she should have a strong confidence and a sense of humor via the proof from the good communication consequences with employees. The successful Chinese enterpriser Zhang Ruiming, the CEO of Haier Group is a confident and humorous leader, when facing the challenge of diversity workforce management in Haier’s American bureau, his confident and humors leadership trait helped him win the support and heart of foreign workers (Duysters, Jacob & Lemmens 2009) because the confident, polite and sincere interest quality of leader can help organization create a harmonies and relaxed atmosphere for the diversity employees work more relaxed and easily without too much thought burden.

 

The next trait the leader had better possess is the ambitious and achievement oriented characteristics. One of the advantages brought by the diversity workforce is the diversity skills and viewpoints of employees form different cultures, backgrounds and other kinds of qualities to helps organization to formulate a better business strategy and plans by the supports of the big pool of different suggestion and solutions (Bell 2011). Due to this, it is a must for leaders to have the traits of a far view setting in making use of the advantage of diversity workforce to achieve its long term business targets and goals. One example of the ambitious and achievement oriented leadership trait is the famous Chinese English training group named New Oriental English, who are so ambitious to create the national wide English training group for Chinese people. And with the good management skills as well as the support of ambitious and achievement oriented trait, the leader of this group make full use of the individual talents with different nationalities to build a promising and potential listed Chinese English training group (Yi 2011). Such kind of story also proves the important of this trait for leader to manage and make use of the talents of diversity workforce.

 

 

Apart from the necessary leadership traits to deal with diversity workforce, there are also two types of skills required such as conceptual skills and social skill as in figure 1.0. The first type of skill is the conceptual skill which is a comprehensive skill with a thorough understanding of the company structure, operating system from the overall situation and the detailed information on the different parts (Griffin 2011). This kind of skill can make leaders have a right assessment on the business strategy and direction during the growth period and allocate suited tasks for employees in relation with their diversity gifts and abilities (Griffin 2011). Or else, lacking the overall assessment of the overall company, it may be difficult for leaders to right manage the diversity workforce and create value.

 

Another skill for leaders to cope with diversity workforce is the social skill namely the communication skill. In the diversity workplace, leaders had better create an open and cando atmosphere for employees to communicate their ideas and suggestion stemming from their diversity essences, which requires leaders to be skillful at communication, persuading and encouragement (Griffin 2011). The manager in the Sherman Oaks, California branch is such kind of leader, who demonstrates exceptional communication skills. She regards motivating and praising employees with diversity background as a top priority, which devoted to the success of its business (Daft 2010).

 

 

1.2    Challenge from economic policy

 

1.2.1            Review of the economic policy related issues

 

Globalization is an inevitable trade in today’s business market, the frequent interaction between different countries and companies in the global range has made the world as a united body. These differences in different countries such as the different economy policies provide new challenge for leaders.

 

 

At first, the different accounting environments are influenced by the elements of legal, cultural, political and economic aspects, which vary from countries to countries. Considering initially in these common law countries such as the U.K. and U.S.A. the accounting processes evolve from decisions of independent standards setting board, which makes some different parts in the accounting system from countries to countries. Such kind of difference in accounting standard requires organization running their business in the foreign countries carefully to take the consideration of these different accounting principles or else some legal issues may occur. (Griffin & Pustay 2010)

 

And the economy policy from government for business changes from time to time. Let’s take China for instance. In the economic reform era, Chinese government made many adjustments on the Chinese economy to improve the dependence and autonomy of these national enterprises. In this period, these policies for Chinese enterprises were very loose and comfortable, while  in the modern time, these favorite economy policies for the development of national enterprises in China may not be so obvious and many. (Wu 2005)

 

To summarize, these economic policies differ from countries to countries and even in the same countries these policies are also changed from time to time, which requires the leader to pay great attention.

 

1.2.2            Solutions to the workforce diversity issues: leadership traits and skills

 

 

Because, these economic policies own great difference on the ground of time and geographic regions, leaders had better own the traits of adaptability and alertness to situation and tolerance to stress.

 

At first, the adaptability and alertness trait owned by leaders may help them work more freely and relax and create an organization with great adaptability to the changes. For example, in the period those economy policies in favor of the business development, leaders and organizations with this trait can be alert to catch these chances to development fast with the supports from government. Such kind of trait can also be found from the leader of Haier Group. During the economy reform period of China, Chinese government offered a large number of favorable policies for the national enterprises. Just because of the alertness of Zhang Ruiyang to the economy policy, Haier Group can catch the opportunity to get a big loan from the bank to accomplish the Haier Industry Park to realize the rapid development of this company (Duysters, Jacob & Lemmens 2009).

 

And in the in the time when government policies may not so good for the development, leaders with adaptability can lead company to act more flexibly. For example, in nowadays Chinese market, these government favorable policies for national enterprises may be not so good and the domestic market are also seemed saturated for the further expansion of Haier Group. The adaptability and alertness traits facilitate Zhang Ruiyang to make up the oversea expansion decision to gain more market share and customers in the global market, which is so successful and makes Haier become one of the Chinese enterprise ranging in the Fortune top 500 companies (Duysters, Jacob & Lemmens 2009).

 

Apart from these necessary traits, many skills including conceptual skills, diplomatic and tactful skills, and communication skills are also important.

 

On the one hand, conceptual skill is a comprehensive skill with a thorough understanding of the company structure, operating system from the overall situation and the detailed information on the different parts (Griffin 2011). Such kind of skill may help leader to find out and notice the right direction of the business development when expanding business into a foreign country with a thorough investigation on the economy policies such as these legal standards and principles without offending the legal issue. Furthermore, when making some curial business decisions, conceptual skill may also help leaders to make suitable adjustment according to the economy policies and situation. Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo group assisted this company to acquire IBM’s PC department successfully and accomplished a excellent business expansion which is because of his conceptual skill in investigating and assessing the economy environment and policies both in China and other countries to lead this Chinese enterprise world famous (Liu  2007).

On the other hand, the diplomatic and tactful skills can facilitate leaders to communicate with business partner or some government officers tactfully and successfully, which may help his or her organization to better seize the chances offered by these favorable economy polices and notice some problems and risks in these economies polices and environment from these business partners or government officers (Lussier, R.N. 2009). 

 

Furthermore, the communication skills can also help leaders to address the direction and vision of their business as well as the macro economic environment to working staff clearly and correctly to remove communication barriers and understanding, too (Lussier, R.N. 2009).

 

In brief, all of these traits and skills are worked as necessary tools for leaders to cope with the changeable economic policies and environment flexibly from time to time and from countries to countries.

 

2.        Q2

Explain the focus of culture and leadership. And in the context of culture, how has globalization influenced leadership?

2.1    Focus and objectives of culture and leadership

 

2.1.1            Focus of corporate culture

A common and frequently used definition in management research originates from Schein (1997) who defines the term corporate culture as “a pattern of shared basic assumption that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and hence to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and fell in relation to those problems.  The focus of the corporate culture is that organizational culture is an influential component of the performance of an organization. This relationship is due to culture’s influence on employee behavior (Branstrator 2008, p. 25). And also according to Peters and Waterman (1982), a powerful culture is critical to the organizational success and strong cultures exhibit superior overall performance. Therefore, the focus of corporate culture is its influence on the employee towards helping achieve the organizational goals.

2.1.2            Focus of leadership

Leadership could be referred as an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes (Daft & Lane 2008, p. 4). From this definition we can also see that the focus of leadership is actually quite similar to corporate culture which is to create influence on the employees (followers in term of leadership) to make them dedicated to the shared company and business goals.

2.2    Impacts of globalization on leadership through changes of corporate culture

Globalization is the process of change seen as increasing interdependence, integration and interaction among people and companies in disparate locations around the globe (Narula 2003). Below we will talk about the impacts of globalization on leadership under the two corporate culture trends: Learning culture and Diversity culture.

2.2.1            Learning culture (learning new ways of doing business) and the leadership implications

As discussed earlier, the globalization trend comes along with a number of new challenges such as the mentioned workforce diversity related issues and economic policies changes in the foreign markets, there are many other issues such as the cross cultural issues and international assignment related problems, when there are more and more anticipated and unexpected problems emerging, companies will have to have the ability to learn these problems and generate appropriate solutions to these problems. A related concept regarding the learning ability and capacity of an organization is the term learning organization which is a critical part and requirement of the multinational corporations that operate in a highly globalized business environment and the learning organization is also a part and feature of the corporate culture in the new century. The term learning organization refers to processes of individual and collective learning – both within and between organizations (Dodgson, 1993). The promotion of the concept of learning organization has been targeting at increasing the knowledge intensity of the companies (Easterby-Smith, Aráujo & Burgoyne, 1999, p. 23) to cope with the many challenges and difficulties which include the above mentioned trends. A more specific concept that describes the learning organization in a more practical perspective is the term of problem-based learning which suggests that because of the complexity and large number of possible problems compared to the limited learning ability and resource, it is more effective to incorporate the educational strategies to optimize problem-centered learning outcomes beyond just knowledge acquisition (Barrows & Tamblyn 1980). In my understanding, the learning organization that based on the specific problems has become a commonly adopted way of coping with the globalization related issues. When the learning organization as part of the company culture becomes widely applied in the organizations, there will be several major implications to the leaders which will be elaborated as following.

2.2.1.1      Becoming highly innovative and creative

When a leader becomes highly innoavtive and creative, he or she could be able to become the source of new knowledge creation for the followers to learn. For example, Apple Inc’s former chief executive officer (CEO) Steve Jobs who had recently passed away had a typical creative person with strong focus on innovations. According to Amabile (1988), creative individuals have a few distinctive features that distinguish them from their peers: They have a rich body of domain-relevant knowledge and well-developed skills; also they find their work intrinsically motivating. They tend to be independent, unconventional, and more risk-taking, and to have wide interests and a greater openness to new experiences (Simonton 2000). And Steve Jobs apparently fit the description of a highly creative person. He led the design of the iPhone, iPad and other legendary Apple products which receive a global customer preference. By maintaining high creativity, Steve Jobs managed to generate ideas and designs that are new to the world for the employees and core teams to learn and then made them contribute to the innovation activities. Hence we can see that with the increasing popularity of the learning culture, leaders need to be more innovative and creative in order to generate more knowledge to teach the followers.

2.2.1.2      Being open to new experiences

Beside the necessity for leaders to be highly innovative, another implication of the learning culture trend of companies to the leaders is to be more open to new experience. In my opinion the rationality for the leaders to have more new experiences in facilitating the learning process seems to be easy to understand, though leaders with the existing professional knowledge and a sense of business opportunities could develop some new knowledge in term new product design and packaging ideas and so on, there are more new knowledge and still which have already been developed and proposed by other companies and researchers and these new knowledge would need to be mastered by the leaders through the new learning or practicing experience. For example in LG, a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances, the senior management would be offered two paths of career development: further their job in the domestic operations as team leaders or being assigned overseas to support the top managers in foreign subsidiaries or marketing branches. The group believes that those with oversea experiences will be able to develop true global leadership since they will have multiple chances to experience key overseas management positions and critical domestic operations such as marketing development, strategy and planning (Rowley & Paik 2009, p. 175). Hence we can see that leaders need to be more open to new experiences in order to learn more new knowledge, skills and ideas.

2.2.2            Diversity culture and the leadership implications

Cultural diversity is having different cultures respect each other’s differences (Soeters & Meulen 2007, p. 89). Such differences could be in dimensions of age, sexual orientation, color, race, religion and other dimensions. With a trend of culture diversity among a single organization, there are several major implications to the leadership behaviors which will be elaborated below.

2.2.2.1      Being willing to listen and learn (different cultural background)

In order to resolve the problems related to culture diversity, the leaders must first understand how the problems are made. To achieve this, the leaders must be get themselves familiar with the different values and beliefs held by the employee and here two major methods that could be used: active listening and systematic learning of the different cultural systems. One one hand, the leaders could be able to get in touch with the most frequent and practical conflicts regarding the diversity issues, by listening to all the involved parties in such conflicts, the leaders would obtain the first hand experience in the filed of diversity culture management; and on the other hand, the leaders could also learn the cultural diversity through systematic trainings which would be more comprehensive. One of such systematic training forms is cross cultural training which is often used as an effective intervention to prevent expatriate failures (Black & Mendenhall 1990). According to Brislin and Yoshida (1994), improving interpersonal relations and job success are two main goals of the cross-cultural training. In this way, it will be expected that leaders would have better relationship with different employees by better understanding of the different cultures and values and thus contribute to settlement of the culture diversity issues.

2.2.2.2      Being curious about the world

According to Mary Mayesky (2009, p), young children tend to be highly open,curious, and creative and thus more inclusive of cultural diversity, and hence to the adult leaders, one strategy that helps increase their capacity to contain a more diverse workforce is to arouse their curiousness about about the word and to different things. Training courses in a leisure and relax manner about the culture diversity and the different cultural conventions of the different employees could help the leaders become more acceptable to the different cultural norms and keep them curious about the new things.

2.2.2.3      Facilitate corporate communication

In working relationship between parties from diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to manage cross-cultural communications effectively (Özbilgin & Syed 2010, p. 238). In my actual working experience, I have observed that employees at the beginning tend to be quite sociable and communicate with everyone, but with time passed, they tend to group up by different cultural background and it is necessary for leaders to encourage and facilitate the corporate communication between them.

 

 

 

Reference

 

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