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I am self-protective, self-centered and status conscious: Can I be an effective leader?


Assistant professor of entrepreneurship Saurav Pathak takes a look at the way cultural orientations can endorse different leadership styles. 

Research By: Saurav Pathak, assistant professor of entrepreneurship

I am Self-protective, Self-centered and Status conscious: Can I be an Effective Leader?

The short answer is yes! But we must first ask the simpler question – what is leadership? It is an influencing process that occurs between a leader and followers. It is explained in part by the leader’s characteristics and behaviors, but more importantly by the followers’ perceptions of what they deem as outstanding, ideal and effective leadership and the context in which the influencing process occurs. Simply put, the effectiveness of any leader depends on the perceptions of “who are being led?” and “what’s the context under which this influencing process occurs?”.

An important context could be the followers’ cultural orientations. Their perceptions – often unconsciously and implicitly held – are culturally shared beliefs about outstanding and ideal leaders. Individuals who demonstrate characteristics consistent with these implicit beliefs that others around them hold, are likely to emerge and be acceptable as leaders.

What results directly from these lines of thoughts is the concept of culturally-endorsed leadership styles. Some styles that are endorsed and accepted in one culture may be frowned upon in others. The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) study identifies six such cultural leadership styles – charismatic, team-oriented, participatory, humane-oriented, autonomous and self-protective.

The leadership style in question – self-protective – expresses inward-centric leadership, and while difficult to comprehend, focuses on being self-centered, status conscious, conflict-inducer, face-saver and procedural.  It will come as no surprise that there are cultures that endorse self-protective leadership style.

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