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Different Leadership Styles: Eastern and Western

In business sphere, leadership is an ability to influence a group of people and everyone particularly as well as encourage them to work effectively for the success of a company and achievement of its goals. It is a vital element of all areas of the professional activity of a manager of any rank. The features of the interaction between team members in the process of adoption and implementation of decisions form a leadership style. It depends on the peculiarities of regulatory and power relations in a team. Although these management features are obligatory for achieving success in any country, the researches still claim that there are certain differences between leadership styles in the West and East. It allows talking about the uniqueness of both models.

First of all, the main reason why western and eastern leadership models are considered different is a cultural contrast. It is important for leadership styles in different countries, and the most successful managers use this feature for their benefits. The specific cultural views show that particular leadership styles and constructs are likely to be unique for a specific country. Today, there is the difference in such concepts as “western” and “eastern” leaders since this trait affects the interaction between a head and the employees. According to Rook (2013), many noticeable and successive differences exist in the models of behavior of highly efficient western and eastern leaders. It directly influences the leadership effectiveness.

The second factor that has actually led to the comparison of western and “new” eastern styles of leadership is the rapid economic development of the Asian countries. It is obvious that the business managers and entrepreneurs are the basis of successful economic transformation of Asia; they create and run companies, thereby building a strong link for development (Mills, 2005). It makes the East a strong competitor for the Western countries. Gradually, the question about the key feature of Eastern leadership technology that enables its users to stand at the same level with their Western counterparts arises.

First, certain features of the election of a leader within a company differ in Western and Eastern countries. For example, American enterprises and firms have complex programs for developing the executives and usually select each successive head from the employees within a company. According to Mills (2005), there are few companies that hire executives from the outside who have no preliminary working experience within an enterprise. However, the desire to reach heights and success in their careers usually drives these executives. They claim that professional accomplishments are much more important to them than profits. Besides, American companies frequently depend on the capital markets and funds, which they invest in these companies. Therefore, they pay more attention to Wall Street than the Eastern countries do. It is important to mention that Wall Street has firm criteria for the executives, their functions, and the results of their work. In the East, the situation is slightly different. There, succession transmitted to the siblings is an ordinary thing (Mills, 2005). This feature is observed in Eastern countries more often than in the Western ones. In some measure, the great Western companies are at the later level of development than, for example, the Asian ones; they had switched from the family leadership model to the professional one and focused on the capital received from the capital markets but not from the family status. This factor strongly influences the leadership styles accordingly.

In Eastern business companies, political relations and contacts are very important for business leaders. For example, in China, there is a large number of programs for cooperation with business companies at the level, which the state accepts. The authorities had created them to improve the economic situation. It is also observed in European countries and America but less frequently. In particular, only few political figures actively cooperate with the heads of business companies in this way. In addition, the Western executives often do not have any strong and perspective political contacts while in the Eastern countries, the intensive participation in policy is an important part of success, particularly in the countries that are the economic leaders (Mills, 2005).

Another important fact is that certain models of leadership are more popular in one region and are rarely used in others. For example, in America and Europe, there are standard leadership models that are applied the most frequently: directive or authoritarian, participative (democratic), empowering, and charismatic (Mills, 2005). Only some of them work in the Eastern countries. The first one expresses the relationships between an executive and the employees and determines a manager as a responsible leader; this leadership style is also common for Asia. Herewith, an executive is an undisputed leader who heads the team at any time. The second model implies close and trustful relationship within stuff and coordinated teamwork. It is prevalent in many European countries and sometimes can be noticed in certain Eastern countries, for instance, in Japan. In these circumstances, a manager can consider his/her subordinates equal. Therefore, everyone in a team has a role in decision-making. Despite this fact, the leader’s control is present. The empowering leadership style focuses on the delegation of duties to subordinate staff by managers and giving orders to employees. It is typical for large companies with many autonomous subdivisions. Some business leaders in the East also use this type of leadership; for instance, the CEO of Banyan Tree Resorts Claire Chiang applies this model (Rath & Conhie, 2009). The basis of this method is the ability to encourage people to work and strive for doing excellent work. The above-mentioned model is widely used in both Western and Eastern leadership styles. A charismatic leader is followed by his/her employees. He or she owns not only business instincts and thoughts but also the ability to communicate with others and get them interested. Such a leader is always an example to follow and is definitely known for press. This person must look good as well as possess sense of style and charisma. However, in each country, a leader of this type will have own additional characteristics as well. What is more, according to Rath and Conhie (2009), there are certain qualities that a successful leader needs to have; they involve emotionalism, adaptability, emotional toughness, emotional resonance, and self-knowledge. Such leadership traits as emotionalism, adoptability, and emotional resonance are more common for the West than the East while self-knowledge is usually a sign of a successful leader in the East and is less prevalent in America and Europe. Emotional toughness is characteristic for all types of leadership (Mills, 2005).

It is necessary to analyze several different countries separately to learn the details of leadership styles that are used in the West and in the East. For instance, the United States is culturally unique in comparison to other leading states. According to Rath and Conhie (2009), this country is highly individualistic, low in power distance, and medium in masculinity. There, the executives are expected to have a prominent and important role, which can express their purpose to work as well as they expect the employees to do it. The most important leadership qualities are equality, honesty, willingness to confess in mistakes and correct them, and efficiency (Hoang, 2012). In addition, rationality, collaboration, listening and learning, great teamwork, and openness present significant value for the American leadership model.

On the other hand, India is an Asian country that is quickly developing economically and culturally. Therefore, it is advisable to take it for comparison. According to Hoang (2012), the successful leaders in India are able to imagine the future of the companies, provide the perspective, and attract the support of their followers and employees. The ability to create a good team and encourage it to cooperate for achieving progress measures the level of success of these executives. Besides, they are expected to experiment, seek and use interesting opportunities in their favor (Hoang, 2012). In addition, India has a trend to apperceive an executive as an intelligent and heedful father. In comparison to the Western model, challenging and enabling are the precise features of Eastern leadership style.

Besides, through observation, the researchers have also identified the main common features of the Western and Eastern styles of leadership. First, motivating and inspiring employees for the excellent work as well as the ability to work in a team are equally important aspects of leadership. Therefore, the ability to be guided by the following features increases company productivity. Another common feature is the pursuit for results. It is not surprising because the key goal of management is the activity that will bring the desired results and prospects. Training and willingness to learn and improve leadership skills are also typical for Western and Eastern styles of leadership. These factors not only enhance the productivity of a company but also strengthen the executive’s position of a leader among others and make it a personal example to follow. The last factor that is common for both models of leadership is the learning and use of additional skills that enhance business management. However, this approach is more frequently used in the developed Eastern countries than in America or Europe.

In conclusion, it is clear that the Eastern and Western models of leadership are not identical although in certain aspects, they are similar. Each of them has its own characteristics and principles of existence. First of all, the cultural customs and traditions of individual countries, particularly in business, affect a leadership style directly. It is difficult to identify all characteristics of the successful leadership mechanisms for each country but it is evident that they are different. Proper and highly appreciated leadership model for the West may not be recognized in the Eastern countries and vice versa. Despite this fact, both leadership styles have common qualities, for example, successful achievement of goals, willingness to learn and find perspectives, and the ability to work in a team and manage it. It is obvious that these factors significantly enhance the productivity of business that is actually the main goal of leadership.


Hoang, L. X. Q. (2012). Western leadership vs Eastern leadership. Retrieved from

Mills, D. Q. (2005). Asian and American leadership styles: How are they unique? Retrieved from

Rath, T., Conchie, B. (2009). Strengths based leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow. Washington, DC: Gallup Press.

Rook, C. (2013). How different cultures perceive effective leadership. Retrieved from