Leadership Across Culture Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Leadership, Culture, Diversity, Management, Hospitality, Workplace, Workforce, Teamwork

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2020/12/13


Workforce diversity has personnel coming from diverse backgrounds that differ based on sexual orientation, education, gender, race and ethnicity. Social rituals help in making differences in the attitudes and values about several aspects that change depending on the nation, place and local customs. Diversity across cultures needs leaders to manage employees hailing from diverse cultures and having diverse cultural discrepancies. Managing a diverse workforce needs a leader to be aware of such differences, understand and accept these differences.
The hospitality industry is one that employees a culturally diverse staff and hence managers should have a thorough understanding of cultural diversity in order to manage the staff accordingly. The manner in which leaders motivate and lead employees are influenced by cultural discrepancies; especially as the manner and styles carried out in one culture may be difficult to be implemented in another culture. This is one of the main reasons as to why hospitality industry finds it challenging to manage a multi-cultural workforce. It is the sole responsibility of leaders and supervisors to appropriately manage such diverse workforce (Devine et al. 2007).
It is essential for leaders to carefully manage a diverse workforce so as to gain competitive edge. Especially in the hospitality industry, it has been witnessed that when leaders are incompetent to handle a multi-cultural workforce, it leads to dissatisfaction, frequent conflicts and high rates of turnover thereby leading an organization to suffer losses. Leaders should recognize the significant of employee diversity by revering diverse cultures that help in creating social differences based on gender, race and cultural norms. Hence, it is essential for the hospitality industry to develop highly skilled and trained workforce that can effectively manage activities and gain competitive edge (Kim 2006).

Leadership and diversity

Managing cultural diversity in workforce needs one to go beyond acknowledging the cultural discrepancies in individuals. Leaders need to recognize diversity by combating workplace discrimination, give value to a multi-cultural workforce and encourage inclusiveness. Supervisors in the hospitality industry face several challenges relating to losses in workplace productivity and personnel due to continuing practices of legal actions and discriminations against organizations. Diversity in workplace can help to lessen group cohesiveness leading to enhanced turnover of employees (Pinar et al. 2011). This academic work will first focus on diversity literature and then analyze servant and transformational leadership styles to a culturally diverse workforce.
Diversity is defined as “a characteristic of social grouping that reflects the degree to which objective or subjective differences exist between group members” (Ayoko & Conrad 2012). Empirical research on diversity have shown paradoxical outcome especially when applied to the management of diverse teams. Scholars have further observed that in multi-cultural team there are high chances of relationship and task conflict. Several meta-analytic observations linking conflict and multi-cultural teams have maintained that it is essential for leaders to efficiently manage diverse teams so as to achieve positive results from conflicts (Ayoko & Conrad 2012).
A hospitality setting allows the existence of team and for effective management of diverse teams it is essential for the team leader to have higher abilities, skills and knowledge as compared with the team members. This is mainly because the team members view the team leader to be a mentor and guide especially in the resolution of team conflicts. Scholars have further observed that a climate supportive of emotional intelligence helped to mitigate the association between destructive conflict reactions and conflict in task. Also, leaders having enhanced levels of vision communication and inspiration were associated with minimal bullying levels by team members (Ayoko & Callan 2010).
Most studies associating diversity and leadership have analyzed the efficiency of transformational leadership in establishing higher leader-member relationship in the organization. Few studies have also determined the leadership potential to successfully mitigate conflict outcomes in a multi-cultural team. A scholarly study conducted by Ayoko & Conrad (2012) maintain that leaders engaged in management of emotion and conflict by following the principles of transformational leadership efficiently channelize conflict existent in culturally diverse teams to achieving constructive systems that outcomes in enhanced performance and morale of culturally diverse teams.

Transformational and servant leadership model in hospitality industry

The explanation of leadership has undergone considerable transformation over the past ten decades and recent leadership theories have mainly emphasized on transformational and servant leadership. Every decade has analyzed leadership thoughts, the features of successful leaders and existent leadership underpinnings. The hospitality firms of today need to establish a leadership style that helps in catering to a multi-cultural workforce and gain competitive edge.
Transformational leadership was proposed by Burns and has gained high popularity especially in hospitality organizations. The main feature of transformational leadership is based on strong leader – member relations and charisma. Transformational leadership is highly relevant to change management principles as such leaders act as “change agents” by developing a vision and inspiring employees to collaborate and work so as to achieve predetermined goals. Scholars maintain that transformational leadership in the hospitality industry help organizations to “manage the dream” (Ayoko & Callan, 2010).
Scholarly research on the effectiveness of transformational leadership in a multi-cultural hotel management firm has revealed that employees considered shared values to be highly critical to achieve job satisfaction and motivation. This experiment was conducted on the manner in which leadership styles influenced the front line employees in a hotel management setting (Brownell 2010).
Hospitality leaders should embrace the tenets of servant leadership that focuses on empowering and supporting subordinates. This is mainly because servant leadership in the hospitality industry will help leaders to instill the principles of leading by service so as to deliver excellent service levels to customers. The hospitality firms of today impact the larger society by reflecting the social values and norms of the workforce employed in these firms. Servant leadership is highly relevant mainly because servant leaders display a high level of flexibility needed for efficient management of a multi-cultural workplace by implementing the appropriate and favorable constructs of other leadership frameworks.
Servant leadership relates religious objectives and hence servant leaders pay high emphasis to ethical and employee centric policies. These leaders immerse themselves in consistent self-introspection by reanalyzing their system of personal values to determine whether their actions align with the espoused beliefs (Washington, Sutton & Field, 2006). Such values and beliefs help in guiding certain and providing solutions to certain challenges like resolution of conflicts, solving issues and making decisions especially while working with a diverse workforce (Brownell 2010).
Scholars analyzes that one of the critical constructs separating transformational and servant leadership styles is the values and beliefs of the leader. In transformational leadership, the leader is mainly concerned to attain the organizational objectives and requirements thereby attaining “empowered dynamic” cultures. However, the objective of the servant leadership is to empower and serve the workforce so as to outcome in highly evolutionary organizational environment. This is highly relevant in handing several challenges to workforce diversity like discrimination.
Hospitality organizations have often come upon the radar for practicing discriminatory policies and legal charges have also been filed by employees. Servant leadership proposed by Greenleaf believes in serving others irrespective of gender, color and race. It also proposes several qualities like the ability to listen, serve and morality of thought and actions that helps to prevent such unethical practices. Organizations have been found to engage in discrimination, stereotyping and prejudiced attitudes towards employees especially with respect to termination, retention and recruitment practices. This is one of the reasons as to why it is essential to establish servant leadership that emphasizes on ethical conduct and the attitude to serve customers (Brownell 2010).
Hospitality leaders should embrace the tenets of transformational and servant leadership to excellently handle a multi-cultural workforce. Diversity in workforce often makes employees to practice affirmative action while recruiting, retaining and terminating personnel and these are strictly against the ethics and value system. Such practices may also lead to stereotypes in recruitment and lead to the hiring of employees who may not be fit for the job role and description.
Such issues are resolved by transforming the existent culture so that personnel understand the significance and value of the firm by emphasizing on organizational objectives. A blended leadership model helps in enhancing the satisfaction and motivation of its internal customers thereby leading to providing excellent customer service to enhance organizational productivity by attaining organizational objectives.

Conceptual framework on diversity and leadership

The literature on diversity differentiates between certain individualistic features like values, information, opinion and attitudes that emerge in the group after a passage of time as compared with surface – level features like gender, age and ethnicity that are immediately disclosed. Empirical studies conducted on diversity based on deep-level and surface-level individualistic characteristics have determined that such features help in producing differed group results and highly impact individual experiences when performing in a team.
Hofstede’s model on cultural dimension is highly relevant to the manner in which leaders conduct themselves while functioning in a culturally diverse team. Hofstede labelled the five dimensions of culture that include power distance, masculinity, individualism, evasion of uncertainty and long term orientation while focusing on the association of leadership in a culturally diverse workforce. This model proposes that the leader should apply the outcomes of particular cultural features to the current situation and then take decisions so as to effectively manage a culturally diverse workforce (Asree, Zain & Razalli 2009).
Studies on management has focused on cross –cultural leadership by analyzing management policies and national culture. Hofstede’s experiments on cross cultural analysis by determining the manner in which discrepancies in cultural dimensions had its impact on outcomes related to the workplace. Another study conducted by academic scholars have tried to analyze the relationship between leader member exchange and transformational leadership styles and the manner they impact job satisfaction and organizational justice by experimenting this in five diverse cultures. The scholars used a sample of 755 management students and professions hailing from the Middle East (Jordan and Saudi Arabia), Columbia, India, Australia and the United States of America. The result of this experiment maintained that discrepancies existed between non-western and western cultures.

Cross cultural leadership in hospitality

There has been limited research involving leadership in a cross cultural working environment in the hospitality industry. There is limited scholarly research on the hospitality industry dynamics that affects the association between stakeholders and leaders working with a diverse workforce. Some scholarly works have thrown light on the manner in which national culture as against the culture reigning in a particular hospitality setting impacted managerial conduct and decision making. Scholars have also strived to recognize the manner in which managerial conduct is impacted by personal beliefs and work related values.
National culture is highly significant in an organization mainly due to the attitudes, ideas and beliefs that develop among groups. Hofstede maintained that an individual carries past experiences, values and beliefs while entering the place of work and accordingly made certain general beliefs about the working environment. Other scholars have maintained that employees appraise the place of work including the organizational environment based on their beliefs and values that has been shaped due to their cultural background. Such appraisals of the workplace can be both favorable and unfavorable. If practices and policies established by the management align with cultural preferences, then the appraisal of the workplace environment is favorable.
One of the critical components in the workplace is the immediate supervisor of the employee and the manner in which the employee perceives an assessment of the leadership displayed by the supervisor. Depending on these assessments employees develop prototypes of leadership and accordingly monitor leadership. This process of segregating leaders from other individuals is known as categorization of leadership (Testa 2007). This process of categorization of leadership is existent in a diverse working environment that depends on the assessments made about a particular leader in comparison with prototypes of leaders.
If the traits of the supervisor is similar to those recognized by the subordinate then leadership categorization occurs automatically. If both subordinate and supervisor are from the same national culture then it is easier to automatically categorize leadership. If both members hail from the same culture then similarity in beliefs, workplace values and language help to automatically categorize leadership as compared with a situation in which the manager and subordinate hail from diverse cultures. Especially in the case where the leader and subordinate hail from dissimilar cultures the subordinate finds it difficult to categorize the leader and this leads to the existence of a controlled process. In a controlled process, the subordinate takes time to monitor and develop certain perceptions about the leader depending on which the status of a leader or non-leader is confirmed. Especially in a multi-cultural work setting incongruence in culture eases the controlled process due to dissimilarity in beliefs, values and language. The outcome of such incongruence or congruence impacts the perception of the subordinate relating the leadership style displayed by the manager (Testa 2009).

Leadership and culture shock in hospitality

Culture shock is defined as “the term used for the pronounced reactions to the psychological disorientation that is experienced in varying degrees when spending an extended period of time in a new environment” (Rajasekar & Renand 2013). The hospitality industry employs expatriates and such individuals are sent to handle international portfolios that require management decision making and setting up of processes and policies. Expatriates often have limited knowledge about the foreign culture and do not understand the manner in which cultural discrepancies impact global business. This leads them to experience high stress and anxiety levels.
A study conducted by Kong & Cheung (2009), on the development of international hotel chains in China has explored the aspect of expatriate culture shock. Past studies conducted by academic scholars observed that hospitality managers in China faced the dilemma of national and corporate culture while working with international hotel chains. An academic study further determined that Chinese managers believed an ideal supervisor to tolerate the independence and empowerment of staff. This study helped in providing detailed explanation about the accepted leadership conduct of diverse supervisors in China (Littrell 2002). Another problem that scholars observed was that of language barriers. The Chinese hospitality industry is highly plagued by under-qualified staff, high turnover rate of employees and the reluctance of qualified graduates to begin their career in the hospitality industry.
Expatriates often face such issues and hence need to be provided ample training in emotional intelligence. Human resource in the hospitality industry should recruit individuals having high scores on cultural quotient and emotional intelligence as such individuals will be able to successfully relate to the host culture include local supervisors and use their emotion and judgment to excellently deal with challenging circumstances faced in an alien nation (Rajasekar & Renand 2013).


Globalization and technological advances have paved the way for a world without boundaries to exist. Nations have relaxed their immigration and visa process thereby leading several individuals to enter into alien nations for enhanced career opportunities. The establishment of international hotel groups as well as the entry of expatriates and foreign nationals to work in hotels across nations have made it essential to foster a culture of workplace diversity. Hospitality leaders should be aware of the significant impact of culture on the conduct of management. Leaders should strive to overcome several challenges of workplace diversity and foster an organizational culture that encourages cross – cultural management policies so as to thrive in a competitive world.


Asree, S., Zain, M. & Razalli, M.R. 2009. Influence of leadership competency and organizational culture on responsiveness and performance of firms. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 22(4), pp. 500 – 516.
Ayoko, O.B. & Conrad, A.M. 2012. Leaders’ transformational, conflict, and emotion management behaviors in culturally diverse workgroups. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: an international journal, 31(8), pp. 694 – 724.
Ayoko, O.B. & Callan, V.J. 2010. Teams’ reactions to conflict and teams task and social outcomes: the moderating role of transformational and emotional leadership. European Management Journal, 28, pp. 220 – 235.
Brownell, J. 2010. Leadership in the service of hospitality. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 51(3), pp. 363 – 378.
Cong, H. & Keung, C. 2009. Hotel development in China: a review of the English language literature. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 21(3), pp. 341 – 355.
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Kim, B. Y. 2006. Managing workforce diversity: developing a learning organization. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism Management, 4(2), pp. 69 – 90.
Littrell, R. F. 2002. Desirable leadership behaviors of multi-cultural managers in China. Journal of Management Development, 21(1), pp. 5 – 74.
Pinar, M., McCuddy, M.K., Birkan, I. & Kozak, M. 2011. Gender diversity in the hospitality industry: an empirical study in Turkey. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30, pp. 73 – 81.
Rajasekar, J. & Renand, F. 2013. Culture shock in a global world: factors affecting culture shock experienced by expatriates in Oman and Omani expatriates abroad. International Journal of Business and Management, 8(13), pp. 144 – 160.
Testa, M. R. 2007. A deeper look at national culture and leadership in the hospitality industry. Hospitality Management, 26, pp. 468 – 484.
Testa, M.R. 2009. National culture, leadership and citizenship: implications for cross-cultural management. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 28, pp. 78 – 85.
Washington, R.R., Sutton, C.D. & Field, H.S. 2006. Individual differences in servant leadership: the roles of values and personality. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(8), pp. 700 – 716.

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