Leadership Advice to Ignore

Interesting article suggesting that we need to rethink a lot of what passes as essential leadership advice, starting with these:

  1. Admit your mistakes openly to build trust. If you’re leading people from a face saving culture, it can be extremely disorienting to hear your leader openly admit a mistake. Owning mistakes is essential for all leaders. But how you talk about your mistakes with those you lead depends on the context.
  2. Get to the point. You almost certainly have individuals on your team who want you to wade into some details both to fill in the blanks and to assure them you’ve thought this through carefully. While some individuals prefer that you get to the bottom line quickly, others (e.g. many Europeans, engineers, and academics) want to hear how you arrived at your conclusion before too quickly “getting to the point”.
  3. Ask people what they want. When being mindful of the diverse preferences and values, some say “ask people what they prefer.” While it can be a good starting point, many status-conscious individuals will tell you what they think you want to hear rather than what they actually prefer. And the more hierarchical the culture, the more people will be confused why you’re even asking them this question.
  4. Here’s what Women want (or Millennials, Ukrainians, Black professionals etc.) One of the things that emerged in our research on cultural intelligence is the value of “sophisticated stereotypes” – research-based tendencies that serve as an unspoken starting point for what someone may want based on one dimension of their identity. But we have to hold these norms loosely and use direct interaction with individuals to determine what they want. Go ahead and educate yourself about the figured worlds represented on your team; but then apply that information dynamically based on the people you lead in the real world.
  5. Never state your price first. Many expect that business relationships in more collectivist cultures will be more indirect about money and prefer to ease into it with small talk; but many of business contexts are much more to the point about cost than in the West.

Perhaps, he’s just making some point to push his ‘cultural intelligence’ initiative. Nevertheless, we thought it was interesting to hear someone challenge some of the popular leadership advice.

June 21, 2023