Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who is a better leader during globalization

Our semester went into session one month ago. During our class, I observed that American students always put forth a lot of opinions and questions in class. This is totally different from what students do in China and Taiwan. In the Chinese education system, teachers teach and students listen, so it results in the students lacking the ability of critical thinking who rarely doubt what the teacher teaches. This made me think about how hard it must be for multinational companies to operate effectively in different cultures. They must change their management system and send some competent employees who know how to lead well in different cultural backgrounds, to other branches overseas. In addition, some countries are not encouraging of female employees, which would be harder for women to obtain opportunities to work abroad.
However, Mercer Human Resource Consulting reported in 2006 that employers sent more females on international assignments than male employees. Why? Are women better leaders? According to Robert, Philip, and Sarah (2004), one of reasons is that local people do not suppose that the behavior of expatriate women is not the same as local women. Additionally, women possess a developed sense of cultural awareness and emotional intelligence. Due to their curiosity, they spend more time figuring out cultural differences, so involvement in a different culture is not a big problem for them. Emotional intelligence makes them adept at reading the body language. They are also self-reflective and reflect how their behavior impacts others, as shown by WJM associates. These traits are beneficial for international assignments.
The above finding is a proof that different circumstances generate different leaders. In the past, people worked in order to make a living. Nowadays, the living standards have been greatly enhanced. People do not worry about their life, so they focus more on the social needs relating to their self-esteem and satisfaction. Therefore, a good leader must be able to enhance the self-esteem and self achievement of his team members. A great many firms have launched branches in China, India, and other Asian countries which can give rise to different cross cultural problems. Women are more capable of dealing with such cross cultural problems, because they possess more of the leadership traits needed for meeting these contemporary business challenges.


  1. Brenda - that was very interesting about the Chinese education system as compared to the American education system. Having experienced some of both, do you think that American students have a good balance of listening and speaking or do you think that we could learn more in general by speaking less? Personally, I often have an opinion regarding our discussions because this theory of leadership is of great interest to me. However, I really enjoy hearing the thoughts and opinions of others because it sometimes gives me a different perspective. It goes back to the idea that good leaders are good communicators. I think we can all agree that a good leader has good listening skills, but like you said, can also apply critical thinking skills and voice an opinion or message when it's appropriate. I'm not sure about you, but I still have to practice finding the right balance of listening and speaking. But the good thing is that it may be one of the leadership skills or traits that is actually possible to improve with practice.

  2. I think you bring up a good point in that women may be better able to express empathy in a global context. It is commonly thought to be easier for them to place themselves in another persons shoes and experience something through their eyes.

    Listening is also key to cross-cultural business. As we continue to globalise we are brought together with people from many different cultures and of vastly different languages. While English is becoming more and more common throughout the world there are still many ways it may be difficult for those of different backgrounds to communicate. Words or phrases may take on different meanings or someone may simply get confused when pulling from a vocabulary comprised of two, three or even four different languages. Paying close attention to the context and other personal clues may greatly increase the understanding of both parties and women may be better suited for such intuitive relationships.


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