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Leadership Styles and Culture in the West and Asia

26 November 2020

Leadership Styles and Culture in the West and Asia

From country to country, leadership styles vary greatly based on political reign, cultural values and historical events. Kate Simmons offers some advice for any manager who is thinking about re-locating between east and west.

The way that business leaders choose to conduct business is based on their personality, but also on many external influences. Sometimes the leadership styles can be so different that adapting may seem impossible. The first step to being well adjusted is to understand how things are done.

Leadership Styles

Under this style of management, the leader leads and all other employees follow in succession knowing both their place and their role. The leader gives directions and may even dole out punishment for poor work or a lack of following orders. The downside is that this type of leadership can seem very domineering to some individuals and may contribute to a lack of employee retention.


This leadership style is sometimes called participative. Within a company that adopts a democratic style, others are encouraged to be part of the process. Creativity and contribution are applauded and promoted. This style of leadership allows the employees to contribute and grow as leaders themselves.


A charismatic leader may not always be the best at what they do, but people want to be around them and hear what they say. They have a personality and a way of dealing with people that make them desirable leaders. This style of leadership allows the employees to contribute and grow as leaders themselves. A common trait of the charismatic leader is often that of being self-centred. This can have catastrophic ramifications if the choices they make are not wise.


The celebrity leader is in the tabloids and news as much as your favorite movie stars. They are often selected for management positions because of their superstar likeness. The drawback to celebrity leadership is that it can often become so much about them as a person the company and employees are forgotten or neglected.


This leadership style sees the delegation of tasks. Individuals are then often allowed to work and develop while seeking guidance from the leader when needed. Provided all employees are well suited to this style of management it can be very successful. It helps to foster strong and competent employees.

Asian Leadership

Business in Asia is significantly influenced by political connections. There is also more focus on family when a successor is appointed. It is common for companies to be left to children or other close family members. When examining governance of a corporation, Asia is less focused on regulators, directors, and stakeholders.

Although some Asian companies do have this type of control, it is not commonly adopted as of yet. The most common leadership style within these companies is directive, where the leader has the final say on every issue; however, the new generation has started to adopt a more empowering approach in order to groom a more capable workforce.

Western Leadership

In the west companies, unlike in Asia, often allow governance to some degree by boards and stockholders. The influences of political connections are not as prevalent here and the CEO’s are often appointed from within the company after having a significant history with the company.

Few companies hire from outside the company for these executive leadership positions. There are specialized leadership development training programs in place to help aspiring CEO’s obtain the necessary skills.

The directive approach leading style was common, but it has seen a large decline in its popularity and employment as the other four styles are on the rise. The leadership characteristic of passion is very prominent in western culture and is a desirable trait, in Asia they tend to be less emotional and have an increased self-awareness.

Considering a Relocation

If relocation is an option for your future, research the companies and positions that you are considering in accordance. Once you have acquired some information, see how it aligns with your personality and think about whether or not you would strive under that leadership style. It is best to consider all possibilities before moving and then finding out that the company does not meet your emotional needs and values.

How to Cope With a Change

The ability to deal with changing business structures is incredibly important and, if mastered, can make you a very well regarded part of the team. One way to deal with a change in leadership style is to consider all angles of the situation and then control your reactions and emotions. In essence, ‘suck it up buttercup’ – you may also choose to adopt methods of dealing with stress to help your with that.

The other option is to re-evaluate your future with the company. It is just as important that the company you work for supports your values as it is that you support theirs. It just may be that you have grown in different directions and the time for a change is nigh.

About the author: Kate Simmons is a freelance journalist who loves to write about business-related topics, specifically leadership, management and ways of professional development.
Leadership Resources

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