hofstede’s Six Cultural Dimensions Report
Hofstede’s Six Cultural Dimensions
The first of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is individualism versus collectivism. Individualism is focused on self, placing the needs of oneself above everything else. Collectivism is focused on the benefit for all involved, placing the needs of the group over the needs of the individual. My leadership style is more in alignment with collectivism, when I lead I try to do what is in the best interest of everyone rather than just myself. I believe this is one of my greatest strengths because it instills faith in the people reporting to me that I am there to support them which makes them work harder for me. In a sense, it is “servant” leadership because I see my role as a leader as a way to provide the people reporting to me whatever they need to be successful. The next of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is large or small power distance. A large power distance is a culture in which the leader has far more power than those reporting to him or her and that power structure is accepted by all. A small power distance is a culture in which the power is spread more equally. My leadership style is small power distance. When I am in a position of leadership I encourage those who report to me to share their ideas and feedback with me, I believe that things are more successful when ideas come from the many than just from the leader. While I am the leader, and therefore responsible for the success or failure of the entire team, I want to bring out the leadership abilities of everyone who reports to me as well.
The third of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is strong or weak uncertainty avoidance. Strong uncertainty avoidance cultures are established when leaders think in very black and white terms, absolute truths are relied upon and avoid risk. Weak uncertainty avoidance cultures are established when leaders are more open minded and encourage risk taking and employee push back. My leadership style creates cultures that are based on weak uncertainty avoidance. I believe in risk taking and I prefer employees to stand up for what they believe in than just towing the line. I am also more open minded and don’t believe in any absolute truths. The fourth of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is masculinity versus femininity. According the Hofstede, “masculine” cultures have specific gender roles and place high value on masculine traits such as assertiveness and independence. “Feminine” cultures rely less on gender roles and place high value on nurturing and social support. My leadership style incorporates a combination of masculinity and femininity, I value assertiveness and I also value nurturing and social support. I think gender roles are unnecessary, I think women can be effective leaders and men can successfully raise children, so in that vein I incorporate more femininity than masculinity in my leadership.
The fifth of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is long-term orientation versus short-term orientation. Long-term orientation is forward thinking and focuses on things like saving and persistence. Short-term orientation is more in the moment and focuses on tradition and immediate achievement. Again, my leadership style is a balance between the two. I value savings and I also think immediate achievement is important. Achievement and progress keep moral up but a successful leader must be forward thinking. The last of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions is indulgence versus restraint. Indulgence is where people are more hedonistic, they seek to satisfy their desires regardless of the impact. Restraint is where people follow social norms that delay gratification. Yet again, my leadership style balances both of these dimensions. In certain situations it is important for me and others to show restraint but if it is taken too far the fun can be sucked out of work. Sometimes satisfying desires can be motivating and rewarding, the trick is figuring out when to use restraint and when to indulge.
There are a number of reasons that it is important for a leader to recognize and understand how the relationship between leaders and followers may be affected by each dimension. A leader’s job is to get the job done in the best possible manner and to accomplish that mission he or she must understand how to drive his or her team effectively. A leader must understand when business, or whatever project that is being worked on, will benefit from a culture of individualism or collectivism. Does the leader want to make decisions based on his or her own needs, on how to best move his or her career forward? Does the leader want to do what s in the best interest of all involved? If the leader prefers the former the relationships with the followers will be less selfless, the followers are there to help the leader achieve his or her goal and their wellbeing isn’t a priority. If the leader cares about what is in the best interest of all involved the relationships with the followers will be more selfless, the leader is there to give of him or herself for others. It is important to recognize the differences in these relationships because each approach will result in different tactics to get things done. A leader only interested in achieving his or her goals can be demanding and punitive and fire at will and could still achieve results. A leader interested in helping others would need to be more supportive and nurturing to get the results he or she is looking for.
Another example of why it is important to understand how the relationship between the leader and the followers may be affected by a dimension is strong or weak uncertainty avoidance. The differences between these two cultures impacts the relationship between the leader and the followers by establishing what the roles are. Followers need to know if they are encouraged to give feedback or if they are supposed to just follow orders. If there is an “absolute truth” that the group is based on all members must know and agree to that truth. These things impact the relationship by setting clear boundaries and expectations for all involved. This is also important when defining a work culture based on masculinity or femininity. The relationship between the leader and followers would either be defined by each member being responsible for his or her own success, even at the detriment of others, or by helping one another to succeed.
It is extremely important for diversity-conscious leaders to be adaptable. In the contemporary world things are constantly changing, diversity of all kinds is growing rapidly and leaders must be willing and able to change with the times to keep up. Leaders must be open to working with all kinds of people with different backgrounds, values and beliefs. As there is a trend toward over-sensitivity and the potential for all kinds of discrimination lawsuits leaders in business must be able to manage in a way that is sensitive to all followers. Diversity of technology is also an issue leaders must stay on top of. Today’s world is much different than it was even 10 years ago, marketing needs to be done through social media and even the smallest of mistakes can go global at any moment so leaders must be on top of their game. They must be able to adapt to any changes that come their way. Leaders who are stuck in the past, who rely on outdated traditions or ways of seeing things, run the risk of hurting their business by not keeping up with the times. There are all good things, the influx of diversity is positively impacting businesses everywhere and the technological advances make getting products into the public’s minds much easier than ever before. That being said, it can be difficult for those who are not naturally adaptable to feel comfortable with these changes. Older men who are not used to females being positions of power may find it more difficult to adapt to a culture based on femininity. And older men who are not used to today’s fast pace, who are more long-term orientated, may have a hard time adapting to the speed of technology and the resulting switch to a short-term orientation. Regardless of comfort level, adaptability is a must for diversity-conscious leaders. In society as it is adaptability is not a just a preferred characteristic for a leader, it is something leaders must have to be successful.