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August 13, 2005

Leadership Thought: Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique?

The following article was published 6 weeks ago, but it is being posted in case you missed it the first time around or if you do not subscribe to the HBS Workingknowledge Newsletter.

From HBSWorkingknowledge, June 27, 2005:

by D. Quinn Mills

Editor's note: Political connections and family control are more common in Asian businesses than in the United States. In addition, says HBS professor D. Quinn Mills, American CEOs tend to use one of five leadership styles: directive, participative, empowering, charismatic, or celebrity. Which styles have Asian business leaders adopted already, and which styles are likely to be most successful in the future?

In a talk in Kuala Lumpur on June 15 at the invitation of The Star/BizWeek publication and the Harvard Club of Malaysia, Mills explained the differences and similarities between American and Asian leadership. Below is the transcript of his talk, "Leadership Styles in the United States: How Different are They from Asia?"

The rapid economic development of Asia in recent decades is one of the most important events in history. This development continues today and there is every reason to anticipate that it will continue indefinitely unless derailed by possible but unlikely international conflicts. At the core of Asian economic development is its business leadership—managers and entrepreneurs who sustain and create Asian companies. Do they exhibit the same leadership styles as top executives in the West?

There are important differences. Are differences attributable to different cultures or to different stages of corporate development?

But first, what are we talking about?

Roles in organizations involve more than just leadership. It is useful, but not yet common in our literature and discussion of business, to distinguish among leadership, management, and administration. They are in fact very different; each is valuable and has its place. Briefly, leadership is about a vision of the future and the ability to energize others to pursue it. Management is about getting results and doing so efficiently so that a financial profit or surplus is created. Administration is about rules and procedures and whether or not they are being followed. These distinctions are very important to clear communications among us about how organizations are run—when they are not made, we become very confused, as is much of the discussion around our topic.

Briefly, running an organization effectively involves:

Leadership:
Vision
Energizing

Management:
Efficiency
Results

Administration:
Rules
Procedures

Our focus today is on leadership: how an executive sets direction and energizes his organization to pursue the direction. This is appropriate because managerial techniques are being spread fast by imitation, adoption, and MBA education. Administrative techniques were generalized around the world decades ago. So what is much different now is leadership.

LINK to the rest of the article.

Posted by Becky at August 13, 2005 5:23 PM Posted to Leadership Thought