RESPONSIBILITY AND RULE FOLLOWING
One of the key strengths of emerging markets lies in their execution.
Emerging market leaders tend to do what they are supposed
to do and stick to procedural rules and guidelines.
This can be explained by different styles of upbringing. In India,
for example, students are taught to memorize and recapitulate
rather than question and interrogate. In western cultures, by comparison,
there is a much stronger emphasis on critical thinking.
Although critical thinking is a virtue, it can create issues when
westerners are working with cultures that have a more ritualistic
Due to this mindset and the fact that they are used to being
told what to do, employees from emerging markets are less likely
to take initiative than their western counterparts. A challenge for
western leaders will be recognizing the need for direction in these
cultures and to encourage those employees to show initiative.
WHAT CAN WESTERN LEADERS LEARN FROM
The future belongs to those with the vision to see beyond their
dominant national cultures.
For example, western people can learn how to strive for balance
and harmony, as is critical in the Chinese culture. Western
businesses operating in China that do not develop genuine respect
and empathy for its people and culture will always just be “tolerated
Energy, joy, the ability to live in the moment and a strong sense
of community are key elements of Africa’s DNA that western
leaders need to be aware of, especially considering the unprecedented
growth Africa is experiencing.
Western executives can also learn from Latin America’s visionary,
emotionally compelling leadership style, which engages their
followers’ hearts and minds.
India’s intuitive thinking style and inherent instincts around diversity
represent themes that western leaders can and should build
upon if they wish to maintain a competitive advantage in today’s
Leaders nowadays must be culturally aware of the global market
and take time to learn practices and traditions outside of the
western landscape. Understanding and integrating cultural practices
from across the globe are key to success on a global scale. n
Gurnek Bains is founder and chairman of YSC and has worked for
over 25 years with senior leaders around the world.
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36 ❚ JULY/AUGUST 2015 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL