Every country and culture around the globe holds and performs a distinct cultural identity. Cultural identity, in canonical terms, comprises of the shared principles and beliefs that surround a people, including nationality, language, religion, and gender. Primarily, it is a sense of camaraderie and companionship that holds those who live in a certain way and in a particular place together.
Cultural identity profoundly informs the actions and tendencies of both groups and individuals, even when they are displaced from their original geography. It affects company culture and the norms for company culture, and also profoundly affects the characteristics of leaders and the social constructions surrounding leadership.
For instance, the way that men and women perform gender is drastically different across countries, cultures, and religions. Gender is entrenched in the systematic expectations for designated gender roles, which trickles down to inform how men and women are expected to act as leaders and workers. This is a topic I have touched on in my previous articles. However, even the expectations for men and women are pre-designated within cultural identification.
This does not mean that there are no deviations and no variation. Even those deviations, however, are entrenched in social expectations. Even what it means to be a deviation is not standard by any means, but instead a product of outlying from the socio-cultural expectations.
The Creative Life Institute poses the example that “North Americans emphasize individual ability and effort as a basis for promotions.” In other cultures where individuality and personal strife is less praised this is less likely to be a facet of leadership. In an article in Forbes, “Leadership Qualities: How to Lead Well Across Cultures,” a man named Carlos Gomez is brought in to lead a company in Amsterdam. He moved to Amsterdam from Mexico, and Forbes explains that “for someone such as Gomez, who has learned to lead in a culture where deference to authority is relatively high, it is both confusing and challenging to lead a team where the boss is seen as just one of the guys. In this case, the challenge was particularly strong, as the Netherlands is one of the most egalitarian cultures in the world. “
This begs the question: are there any traits and characteristics within leadership that are uniform globally? What does globally-effective leadership even look like? Of course, this is a massive question to grapple with. It is likely to imagine that there are some presentations and performances of leadership that are universally compatible with “good leadership.” For instance, creativity. Creativity and the idea to think expansively–whether on an individual level or a group level–is beneficial in every workforce setting, as no matter where in the world you are it is necessary to evolve and adapt to keep a business alive and progressing.