Last year for my C-Suite Perspective: Leadership & Integrated Marketing class we received an assignment to do a presentation on a list of topics – I choose “Compare & Contrast Leadership from Two Different Cultures”. I honor of Martin Luther King Day I thought it would be great to broach this topic again.
For my presentation I looked at two very iconic, yet very different leaders from two different sets of culture. The cultural perspective included Individualism (prominent in the US, Canada & Western Europe) and Collectivism (prominent in Asian, Latin American & African nations), also known as the I/C spectrum. Let’s see if you can guess who they are?
Leader # 1
He was an unquestionable legend, innovator and visionary in his own right. He has been described as a “master of innovation”, a “design perfectionist” and the “Father of the Digital Revolution”. He was “futurist” with a cult-following.
Adopted at birth, a college dropout, known to experiment with drugs and even at one-stage denying his paternity to his own daughter, a controversial figure at times. He has played many roles in his life as co-founder, chairman, and CEO of various industry-changing companies. He was kicked out of his own co-founded company and brought back later to bring it from near bankruptcy to profitability. He is no longer with us, but has left his mark on the world, forever changing it.
Leader # 2
A revolutionary, a troublemaker, a peacemaker and symbol of freedom. A man who changed a country forever and united a country when it seemed impossible. A man who fought for liberty and justice, a man who changed they way we perceived the world. He is the smiling symbol of sacrifice and rectitude, revered by millions as a living saint. The leader of once-divided nation, an advocate for world peace and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Born of royal origins which he later denounced, born to illiterate parents and became lawyer by trade. He played many roles in life from royal son, to lawyer, to commander of a military wing, to political traitor, to President. He is the father of six children and the grandfather of 23 grandchildren. He is no longer with us, but has left his mark on the world, forever changing it.
Both of these leaders I consider as Transformational Leaders, defined as someone who “Brings about major, positive change for the group, organization or society.”
Leader # 1 = Steve Jobs
Intense, passionate, extreme emotionalist, perfectionist, A-Type, Impatient, Confident, Charismatic, persistent, bold, ruthless, assertive and enthusiastic.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs
“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs
THE CULTURE OF i …centered around Independence and Idiocentrism aka “I am who I am because of who I am”.
Leader # 2 = Nelson Mandela
Humble, Compassionate, Dignified, Trustworthy, Inclusive, Sensitive, Patient, Confident, Warm, Enduring, Courageous, Kind, Courageous, Forgiving, Inspirational
“It’s a mistake to think that a single individual can unite the country” – Nelson Mandela
“In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be to due to work and achievement of other.” – Nelson Mandela
THE CULTURE OF we …centered around Interdependence and Allocentrism. aka African Philosophy of UBUNTU = “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
It is interesting to look at these two leaders and compare the leadership style and see how they were profoundly influenced by their cultural context. What is more interesting is that there is not necessarily a right or wrong when looking at the theses very different leadership styles.
A tribute to these two great leaders: