Leadership, (Cultural) Threats, and Change

Strong culture – weak culture

A strong organizational culture helps leadership and motivation, but it risks to become too rigid and inflexible. A leader needs to balance the inflexibility of a strong organizational culture with resistance to change from a too weak organizational culture.

Creating the need for change

A leader is analyzing and realizing that there is an unsatisfactory situation, then creates and communicates the required sense of urgency.

Behavior change

Behavior change can be “coerced” but it may be ineffective for positive changes of attitudes, such as solidarity and accountability.

Unfreeze, change, refreeze

People generally don’t like to unfreeze their accustomed situation. To unfreeze and change, change agents should reassure, involve, empower, support, and celebrate change.

“Men have made millions of laws to punish crimes, and they have not established even one to reward virtue”  Dragonetti (1766)

Solidarity and accountability

Payments are not resolving the solidarity problem in a competitive and career dominated environment. Leadership based on self-awareness (e.g., servant leadership) creates a sense of increased meaning, belonging, and promotes accountability and self-leadership.

Resistance vs. apathy

Resistance might be preferable to apathy, as resistance can highlight genuine problems in proposals, and there is an energy that serves as a source of commitment from converted followers.

Cultural context

(Transformational) leadership needs to be fine-tuned according to cultural contexts, such as collectivism/individualism and power distance. For example, on an individual level: low power distance fosters higher emotional commitment to transformational leadership.

Material from the session on January 9th, 2019, 19:30 – 21:00 in Tokyo (at J-Global, Yaesu)

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  • As with all things in life, flexibility and some degree of balance between the extremes is key, especially when dealing with imperfect human beings. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thanks a lot, Henry! I agree.
      On a different level, we could also frame it the way that (human) life could be perfect, but we see things dualistically as “good” or “bad.” Hence, compromises may arise from less judgment.
      All the best!

  • I like this: “Resistance might be preferable to apathy, as resistance can highlight genuine problems in proposals, and there is an energy that serves as a source of commitment from converted followers.” And I like your balanced approach. I’d never thought about the drawbacks of a strong culture — very interesting.

    • Thank you very much for your kind feedback. I’m glad to hear about this ‘cultural awareness’ effect. As one continues to think about the influence of culture on one’s personality, things indeed become increasingly exciting:-). All the best!