Business Teamwork and Collaboration : Managing Diverse Teams
More diversity automatically results in better performance. This assumption is a mostly incorrect contemplation commonly assumed by managers and organisations (Shemla, 2019). In fact, the increasing globalisation of markets and the alignment of diverse teams lead to changes in business operations: Stakeholders originate from countries that are culturally different and have contrasting values, resulting in intercultural overlap situations that affect management practices, individual work attitudes, communication, and negotiation. New kinds of difficulties thus arise that need to be addressed appropriately. Most diversity measures in companies tend to focus on how businesses can become more diverse, instead of managing this diversity, so-called intercultural management, which necessitates whole other procedures and metrics (Shemla, 2019). This literature review defines intercultural management, demonstrates leadership styles that should be used by executives, who attempt to counteract the above-mentioned problems as well as examine strategies of interculturality in the leadership process.
Intercultural management is a sub-aspect of international management that focuses on cultural issues in cross-border business activities (Welge, 2003, p. 3). It addresses the concrete design of functional, structural, and personal management processes. The aim is to successfully overcome problems caused by the different origins of the participants through efficient, intercultural action by providing appropriate solutions (Perlitz, 2000, p. 297). This structure serves as a basis for mutual understanding.
Particularly the guidance of diverse teams within managerial positions have become of central importance, as they take control of cross-border activities and contact with foreign players has become a daily task (Bergemann/Sourisseaux, 2003, p. 5 ff.). Consideration of the socio-cultural structure of the foreign country is essential. Hence, intercultural leadership models are essential to lead diverse teams and organisations. Therefore, leadership styles should be considered in more detail. There are different ways of classifying them. Examples are the traditional leadership styles according to Max Weber or Kurt Lewin. Since Weber's thesis is considered outdated (WLW, 2019), the author will concentrate on the latter. Kurt Lewin distinguishes between three basic leadership styles.
Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)
Refers to decision-making, the setting of tasks and the control by the manager. Employees are neither asked for their opinion nor involved in shaping processes and decisions, but rather directed from above. This gives the manager control over all processes and allows him to act quickly, but it also reduces the motivation and commitment of his workforce (Thiele, 2006, p. 6).
Participative Leadership (Democratic)
The manager makes decisions together with all players but attaches importance to tasks being fulfilled and implemented. Personal situations, individual strengths and weaknesses are considered, form the framework for target agreements. Under these framework conditions employees can develop freely, autonomy is encouraged, and the manager is open to criticism (Thiele, 2006, p. 8).
Delegative Leadership (Laissez-Faire)
Here, the manager refrains from any way of influencing behaviour, allowing the employee the highest degree of freedom. This is intended to promote higher motivation and independence. The manager lets the employee work without control or rules, however cares little about individual expectations and wishes and neither assists (Brunßen/Hilligweg, 2019, p. 156).
The leadership style must be adapted to the new needs of the globalised corporate world and must take place from a neutral perspective since the preferred styles vary greatly in the different cultures.
Strategies of Interculturality in the Leadership Process
It is important to apply the leadership style that is understood and respected in the target country as well as to harmonise the colliding cultures. According to Kühlmann, in a cultural overlap situation, the internationally active manager thus has four strategies of interculturality in the leadership at his disposal to manage the culture-related differences in perception, thinking, feeling and behaviour between himself and the other person (Meckl, 2011, p. 348 ff.).
As the name implies, no strategy is applied, rather leadership strategies are omitted.
A strong emphasis is placed on the own cultural context, the manager from the parent company hardly adapts his/her ideas in the foreign cultural space, but simply transfers them. Thus, the manager embodies a role that is unfamiliar to the people being managed and causes resistance. They are expected to understand a particular role and culture that does not correspond to their own, making it hard for them to comprehend.
This is a multicultural approach in which foreign-and own-cultural leadership strategies are seen as equally important. The manager strives to expand his repertoire of actions to include new, innovative solutions to do justice to both sides. Both the employees of the opposing culture and the manager himself must be open about their culturally conditioned expectations. In this way, new creative possibilities can be created in which cultural features are considered (Baldauf/Lang, 2016, p. 127 ff.).
This leadership style adapts to the cultural environment, which tends to lead to greater leadership satisfaction among employees since the manager is oriented towards the expectations of the employees (Meckl, 2011, p. 348 ff.). It is based on the principle that in every culture there are promising leadership strategies and tools that should be used. To enable this, the manager must be flexible and able to switch between different styles depending on the country and culture he/she is in.
This is a combination of the dominance and adaptation strategies. It assumes that the cultures of both parties have a common foundation, such as common values and ideas. The manager accommodates the employees of the opposing country and only uses strategies that are known in both cultures (Emrich/Kohlhammer, 2011, p. 171 ff).
It is recommended to adapt the type of leadership to the culture in which action is being taken, as the techniques cannot be easily transferred to other countries and otherwise the employees will not feel understood, nor will they be able to identify with and accept the leader. Moreover, it ensures that the members of the company work most effectively and create the greatest added value for the company's success under the type of leadership that suits their culture best (Meyer, 2015, p. 90 ff).
Although intercultural management is not a guarantee for successful relationships, it can serve as a foundation for success. By gaining new perspectives, possibly reconsidering one's own styles and behaviors, and especially strengthening mutual respect, the "foreign" culture of the counterpart should not be seen as an obstacle but as an opportunity for growth. In this way, the targeted use of cultural diversity can be used to strengthen the corporate structure and culture, to find improved solutions to problems, and ultimately to increase productivity.
Due to the limited capacity of the scope, this paper relates very strongly to only two models according to Lewin and Kühlmann. This results in a rather one-sided presentation of leadership styles and strategies of interculturality in the leadership process. For further research in this area, it would be interesting to identify an explicit country and a corresponding culture to apply the above-mentioned models.
- Quote paper
- Anonymous, 2021, Business Teamwork and Collaboration: Managing Diverse Teams, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1154896
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