Why White Men Can’t Lead ?


I have read an article “White Men Can’t Lead (everyone) from the  American Management Association  and I basically agree with the ideas:

  • Today’s leadership models, although they may differ from person to person and method to method, generally have a common bias toward Western or European-influenced ways of thinking.
  • We’re leading as if our companies are filled only with white men and, quite clearly, that’s no longer the case.
  • Contemporary leadership theories exclude the enormous contributions, potential learning, and valuable insights that come from leaders in diverse communities.
  • Multicultural leadership encourages an inclusive and adaptable style that cultivates the ability to bring out the best in our diverse workforce and to fashion a sense of community with people from many parts of the globe. (reference: www.techrepublic.com)

Although this article was written in 2007, nothing really changed. This “white men” leadership style is still highly prevalent in multinational western companies and how they manage their local affiliates.

In most headquarters in America and European countries, the “non-invented’ here syndrome makes management ignoring local consumer tastes and cultural values thinking that what works home works everywhere (ethnocentric management style).

Recently an article published in Forbes “ Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company. demonstrated that Sony, a market leader for 40 years with its strategy of innovating new markets, has now lost money for 4 year because they adopted the western industrial strategy based on volume and cost obsession.

After two years of study the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (in America) released its report in 2011 on efforts to create more diversity among the top military brass, in the article,  Are There Too Many White Guys Leading Our Military? , The report notes that 77 percent of active duty senior officers are white, 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women. Those numbers have to change in order for the military to reach its goals concluded the report.

In  previous post I introduced the concept of “Third Culture Teams” that has been used to describe  how to create  congruence of three cultures:

1-The Corporate culture: Company explicit and implicit rules and guidelines, leadership style, ethnocentric or diversity-centered, cultural traits of the country where the Headquarters are based

2-The local country culture: Language (verbal and non-verbal), religion, cultural values and  norms, communication style

3-Each individual team member’s own culture, values, beliefs, set of norms

The idea of third culture teams is based on the human need for belonging: People like to feel that they can relate to someone and those who share similar interests.

You can be a white man and a great global leader but you need to be a chameleon who is able to change its  color to reflect its environment. Effective multicultural team leader must create trust regardless of ethnicity or country of origin by actively listening to everybody’s ideas before making a decision concerning the introduction of a new product or service in a foreign market.

What skills Do You Think Are Most Important for Global Leaders ?

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4 thoughts on “Why White Men Can’t Lead ?

  1. Adventures (@in_expatland) June 12, 2012 at 2:35 am Reply

    I really like this post Anne. The article you reference speaks to the need for adjusting leadership styles through diversity and inclusion. Your congruence of the HQ, local and individual cultures and perspectives in Third Culture Team offers a way forward.

  2. [...] Why White Men Can’t Lead ? (zestnzen.wordpress.com) Share this:LinkedInTwitterFacebookPinterestEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  3. [...] a previous article why white men can’t lead  I gave several references gathering evidence that today’s leadership models, although they may [...]

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