Discussion Board

Read Chin, Gu & Tubbs, 2001. Describe the levels of global leadership competencies. Identify the level where you feel you are operating and what steps do you think you need to take in order to reach the next level?requiremnts 500 wordsown perspective

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Developing Global
Leadership Competencies
Chen Oi Chin
Chinese American Educational and Cultural Center of
John Gu
Stewart L. Tubbs
Eastern Michigan
This paper documents the intense need for greater global leadership competencies in
American and Chinese business leaders. The paper also explores some of the cultural
and philosophical differences. Finally, the paper explains an original conceptual
model for developing global leadership competencies. This is offered as a heuristic
attempt to advance the research and development on this topic.
About the Authors: Chen Oi Chin Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Chinese American Educational
and Cultural Center of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and her
Masters degree from Yale University. She is originally from Singapore. John Gu is Senior
International Assignment Manager for Prudential Corporation. He received his Masters degree from
Michigan State University. He is originally from Shanghai, China. Stewart L. Tubbs is the Darrell H.
Cooper Professor of Leadership and former Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan
University. His Ph.D. is from the University of Kansas. He is originally from Lakewood, Ohio.
With the rapidly changing nature of modern global business practices, one business
executive was prompted to exclaim, &dquoIf you are not confused, you do not understand
what is going on.&dquo It seems that there is a greater than ever need to develop
theoretical and practical models of global leadership competencies to be able to
develop leaders who can lead effectively in an increasingly global business milieu.
Viceri and Fulmer (1997) have argued that improving &dquostrategic leadership
development&dquo is the single most potent focal point for strengthening an
organization’s strategic competitive position. Recent research in leadership has
focused on developing leadership competencies. For example, Goleman (1997, 1998)
has identified two broad categories, personal competence and social competence.
Bergmann, et. al. (1999) have identified eighteen specific competencies ranging from
navigating change, to proactive listening, to coaching others, to handling emotions
under pressure. Tichy and Cohen (1997) have taken the competencies discussion one
step further arguing that all leaders must be able to not only demonstrate the
competencies, but teach them to others in their organization as well.
While these efforts have been extremely useful, they do not directly address the
need to develop these leadership competencies across different cultural situations.
More recent works by Rosen, et. al. (2000) and Sanchez, et. al., (2000), have
advanced the concept of developing global competencies. This paper is dedicated to
advancing that body of knowledge, specifically between Americans and Chinese.
us that leaders are only effective in
1993; Hersey, Blanchard and
behaviors. In order to
Johnson, 1996).
develop an Asian-American model of leadership competency, we first examine some
of the differences in communication style and behavior that exist across the two
relation to
theories of leadership have
In the
U.S., people have traditionally admired charismatic leaders. Early writings of
(1947) emphasize that charisma is usually thought of as resting on
devotion to specific and exceptional heroism or exemplary character of an individual
person. This is also thought of as an outgrowth of an individual’s communication
skills as being articulate, dynamic, etc. (Conger, 1998; Lucas, 1998). However, in
Chinese culture, the Taoist philosophy is to follow nature, i.e., be as soft as water.
This philosophy encourages one to be more serene and not to push others too hard.
Pushing often provokes others to push back. Similarly, remaining silent and
enduring the anger of others is considered a strength. Specific communication
behaviors may be interpreted quite differently by Americans and Chinese. For
example, Sanchez, et.. al. (2000) state that, &dquo…being outgoing, as it is normally
understood in the U.S., may be perceived as being rude in other cultures, thereby
provoking rather than preventing social isolation.&dquo (p. 98).
The Confucian tradition in Chinese culture encourages the leader to follow four
practices. First, the leader should instill in followers a sense of security and peace of
mind. Second, the leader needs to be able to identify each person’s particular talents
that may contribute to the organization’s needs. Third, the leader should establish
himself or herself by establishing or promoting the success of the followers. Fourth,
the leader should enrich followers by extending to them opportunities to build their
careers. In many ways, these principles are similar to some modern American
leadership philosophies. (c.f., Bergmann, et. al. 1999 ;Cloke and Goldsmith, 2000;
Kotter, 1999; and Krzyzewski, 2000). On a higher philosophical level, the overall
goal of a leader according to Chinese thought, is to create harmony as the top
priority. This is captured in the Chinese saying that; &dquoHarmony (ho) is the key to
successful leadership.&dquo Harmony is often promoted by leaders who accept differences
among people. In addition, harmony must be achieved without compromising one’s
professional integrity. In Confucian philosophy, according to Mencius, people are
basically good. However, according to Xunxi, people are basically evil. These
concepts are virtually identical to the philosophy articulated by Douglas McGregor
( 1960) in his famous writing on Theory Y and Theory X, respectively.
Issues and
Current global business practices present several challenges. Two of these are the
differences between Eastern and Western behavioral styles, and the challenges
presented by the paradox of hi tech and hi touch.
Eastern Versus Western
The Chinese style of thinking is exemplified by the yin/yang diagram. Chinese
culture encourages people to think of opposites as occurring simultaneously and
being in harmony.
Table A
A balance of Inner
In contrast, the American style of thinking tends to be more Aristotelian and tends
to be either/or, on/off, black or white. Furthermore, Americans, historically have
been driven by the strong desire to get ahead. Chinese, on the other hand, have
historically sought more of a balance (harmony) between work and family life. This
is captured in famous dialogue with Confucius. A person asked Confucius, &dquoWhat
surprises you most about mankind?&dquo Confucius answered, &dquoThey lose their health to
make money and then lose their money to restore health. By thinking anxiously
about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present
nor the future and live as if they will never die, and they die as if they never lived.&dquo
The need to find the appropriate level of balance is still just as relevant an issue
today in both the East and West.
Hi Tech Versus Hi Touch
two decades ago, Naisbitt
(1982) predicted that computers would become
of a dominant force in our lives and in our professions. However, he
also predicted that along with the increase in technology there would be an
increased need for strong personal and interpersonal relations. As people become
more isolated due to technology, they also feel an increased need for personal
contact. His predictions have proved to be very accurate. One recent study found
that people who spend even a few hours a week on-line, experience more loneliness
than those who use the computer less. The researchers concluded that the study,
&dquoraises some troubling questions about the nature of ’virtual’ communication and the
disembodied relationships that are often formed in the vacuum of
’cyberspace.&dquo’(Tubbs and Moss, 2000, p. 19). This need underscores the paradoxes of
modern day global communication.
Given the issues, challenges, and paradoxes identified above, it is imperative that
scholars develop theories and practices that can facilitate the exponential growth of
modern global businesses. That is the focus of our next section.
Research has shown that traditionally, 90% of all companies base their choice of
international managers on technical expertise while ignoring other competency
considerations. (Earley, ~000). We need to develop greater global leadership
competencies in order to allow for the maximum potential for East/West business
and cultural opportunities. These competencies seem to follow a hierarchy
somewhat analogous to Maslow’s need hierarchy. At the lowest level of the pyramid,
an individual begins with a state of &dquoglobal leadership deficiencies.&dquo In other words,
it is difficult to move to the next level higher in the hierarchy until one has moved
through the lower level. In addition, through negative experiences, it is possible to
have individuals &dquobackslide&dquo and move from a higher level on the pyramid to a lower
level. At the highest level of the pyramid, an individual can achieve some level of
&dquoglobal leadership competencies.&dquo This should become clearer as we discuss each
level of the hierarchy in the next section. But first, we present the model.
Starting from
the bottom of the pyramid, Ignorance is the first level when relating
others from different cultures. Obviously, with no contact there can be no
knowledge. Each party assumes that their own way of doing things is the correct
and proper way. Stoltz (1997) has referred to this level of leadership as &dquounconscious
incompetence.&dquo In other words, we don’t even know what we don’t know. Asians
tend to associate the word ignorance with illiteracy or the rough edges of those who
are uneducated. However, in this context, ignorance refers to a mindset. Even
prominent leaders can be susceptible. Chairman Mao believed that he could
-enlighten, liberate and improve peoples’ livelihood all over the world without having
to pursue science and technology. In parts of Asia, there is foreign worshipping on
one hand and aversion, on the other hand, to examining/challenging their
traditional values and beliefs which they hold as superior.
Elements of traditional Chinese ideology seem to be inward-looking, conservative of
the land as piously and stubbornly as their Chinese ancestors. Before the industrial
revolution, China was as advanced as any nation in the world, and more advanced
than most. Why did the country fall so drastically behind? At the time Magellan’s
ships were circumnavigating the globe, the first Ming dynasty’s emperor was
closing China’s doors to the world. &dquoNot a single ship,&dquo he repeatedly ordered, &dquoNot
even a plank must be launched into the sea.&dquo These are but a few examples of
As individuals begin to interact with those from another culture, impressions begin
to form and, in many cases, bonds begin to develop. Institutions of learning,
corporations and enterprises, both in the East and West seem to know the
importance of international exchanges. They are also aware of the fact that most
international activity now demands a cadre of personnel capable of operating easily
with people from a variety of cultures, and that labor and management are both
deficient in skills required of global business leadership. However, how many
organizations have really invested in developing those competencies? Fewer than 8
percent of U.S. colleges and universities require knowledge of a foreign language for
admission. Fewer than 5 percent of America’s prospective teachers take any courses
in international subjects as part of their professional training. While most Asian
countries seem to fare better in regard to language requirements and international
subjects compared to America, they are not making investments in seriously
learning the American culture (the mindset, the philosophical underpinnings) of
which the English language is only a part. Hardly any business delegations from
Asia visiting the States attend cross-cultural training programs before departure.
American businesses, however, do seem to be more willing to make that kind of
investment. Sanchez, et. al., (2000) refer to building this level of awareness as the
&dquoNovice stage&dquo when going to a foreign country. They write that, &dquoExpatriates from
individualistic societies should be reminded that the lengthy social interactions
observed in collectivistic cultures are not a waste of time, but a necessary conduit to
doing business. Executives from collectivistic cultures transplanted to an
individualistic one may make the opposite mistake.&dquo (p. 102). At this level there
tends to be some recognition of superficial cultural differences such as &dquoAsians are
more formal,&dquo and &dquoNorth Americans are more informal.&dquo Emphasis is on the basis of
commonality in ethnocentric terms (i.e., everyone is essentially like us). It may also
adopt the blame approach (we are underdeveloped, because we were once colonized).
At this level of competence, individuals may be aware of different cultures, but may
still experience a significant degree of unconscious denial as well as ethnocentrism.
They may also experience a certain degree of discounting the value of the other
culture. If their culture is so good, why do they have so much violence in the streets?
At this level of competence, individuals begin to exhibit some conscious effort to
learn why people are the way they are and why people do what they do. At this level
people display interest in the history, psychology, and evolution of value systems, as
well as in the environmental factors contributing to the makeup of a distinctive
Also at this level, individuals begin to develop some sense of the other culture and
develop some tolerance of the new ways of doing things. Tolerance in this case
means able to tolerate. There still exists a strong preference for one’s own culture.
Sanchez, et. al. (2000) refer to this as the &dquotransition stage.&dquo We might add that this
is the early transition stage.
At this level, individuals begin to take a &dquoleap of faith&dquo and experience a genuine
tolerance of different points of view. Not just &dquoputting up with&dquo the other culture,
but a genuine appreciation and, in some cases, preference for certain aspects of the
new culture. There is no intent to denigrate or belittle the other culture. On the
contrary, this stage sees alternative ways of living and alternative business practices
and decision-making processes as viable. It is a mindset that allows individuals to
things from the other point of view. However, appreciation still tends to remain
somewhat at a friendly distance (i.e., arms length). For example, &dquoLook, these Asian
farmers are engaged in back-breaking rice seedling transplantation. They are a hard
working people. We are so fortunate to live in a highly mechanized society.&dquo We
might refer to this as the middle transition stage in this developmental process.
This is the later transition stage. At this level the possibility of interaction between
cultures increases appreciably. People are more sophisticated both in terms of
recognizing commonalities and in terms of effectively dealing with differences. At
this level individuals begin to value and embrace their understanding of the new
culture. This is a departure from the ethnocentric notion that &dquomy way is the best
way and the only way.&dquo It is the beginning of a realization that diversity, globalism,
and competition from overseas is real. For example, it took about a decade for the
U.S. auto industry to accept the idea that the Japanese quality systems sets an
example to be emulated and that competition can have a positive impact. At this
level, individuals having tried something new, need to reflect, to digest, to analyze
and to evaluate. Internalization is the stage in which one’s experience and learning
is validated. It is a time to celebrate the true transformation that is taking place.
Once people begin to appreciate other cultures, they may also begin to see that there
are some universal values that apply to some degree across cultures. See Table B.
At this stage globalization becomes a way of life. It is internalized to the degree that
it is out of one’s own volition. The process having become more or less completed,
one’s behavior almost becomes effortless, subconscious, and second nature.
words to describe this level are competent, fluent, balanced, broadminded, and international. One can truly be himself or herself at this level. The use
of empathy or frame of reference has shifted. There is no longer fear of things that
are new and different. On the contrary, there is obvious interest in trying new and
different things. There is an eagerness to solve problems in the true spirit of
cooperation. There is an eagerness to learn and to continue the adaptation process.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, &dquoLearning is a treasure that will follow its
owner everywhere.&dquo Similarly, the late B.F. Skinner from Harvard University said
that, &dquoEducation is what is left when everything that you have been taught is
forgotten.&dquo In other words, you have become irrevocably transformed. Sanchez, et.
al. (2000) refer to this level as the &dquomastery stage.&dquo They state that this stage is
illustrated by the following. &dquoArmed with the dual experience of having lived and
worked both abroad and at home, expatriates are capable of seeing one culture
through the eyes of the other. The ability to understand the cultural paradox that
surrounds them, represents the pinnacle of…executive transformation.&dquo (p. 103).
The world has become a marketplace of ideas without a clear-cut borderline (your
culture vs. my culture, your product vs. my product), much in the same way the
Internet operates. Total Quality Management has become a universal language.
However, it is important to point out that globalization does not mean uniformity.
True integration is highly selective. Asian countries will remain highly &dquoaffiliationoriented,&dquo and Western nations will continue to stress the virtues of individualism.
Differences are not seen as threats, but rather as strengths, hence the need to
&dquolocalize&dquo even as we talk about globalization.
An Illustration
In order to illustrate the different levels of the
look at
namely, Guanxi.
Ignorance. Guanxi is a concept that is part of the Chinese culture. It means
relationships. One of the contributing factors to many American business failures in
China is their ignorance of the importance of establishing a good relationship with
friends and counterparts as a form of long term investment. One writer has observed
that, &dquoA business which followed the traditional Western practice of negotiating and
enforcing contracts would be at a disadvantage to one which relied on guanxi-type
methods.&dquo (Lovett, et. al., 1999). When American leaders set out to the competitive
Asian region, they are well oriented to the concept of efficiency, (i.e., accomplishing
their goals within a given time frame). They are also accustomed to the practice of
developing carefully worded contracts to protect in the case of subsequent litigation.
However, this lack of cultural knowledge results in i …
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