Question: Discuss leadership styles in these 3 countries in Asia: Japan, Korea, China.


Leadership styles in each country vary according to its culture and values. Leaders respond to challenges from various perspectives depending on their perception about the available opportunities. The sustenance of a particular type of leadership in a country is due to its cultural perception which remains the same. All three Asian economies – Japan, Korea and China differ in many factors such as size, opportunities and resources. Most importantly, they have common cultural values that have been delegated by their ancestors.

Decision makers vary in their leading styles due to the following characteristics:

  1. 1.     Directive Leaders

Most Chinese and Korean companies are lead by directive leadership that is highly focused on achieving results and less concentration on training and development.

  1. 2.      Behavioral

Japanese leadership truly strives to build strong and amiable relationship between subordinates to open the doors of success.(Lewis , 2000 , 2-5)

  1. 3.     Conceptual Leadership Leaders who are more relevant to the information economy because they contribute to the economy by imbibing the concept of innovation, learning, unlearning and re-learning new techniques. BMW is a good example of conceptual leadership.


  1. 4.     Achievement

Leaders who are more inclined towards accepting new challenges and sustain in the information age by research and development. A good example is most IT companies who build technologies by creating a truly inspirational environment for their employees.


  1. 5.     Cognitive complexity

Cognitive complexity differs in leaders depending on how they define success and work relationships.(Martinsons ,3-10) Apart from the bottom line success, leadership success depends a lot on the qualities that the subordinate imbibes from the manager/leader. The application of collective wisdom is persistent in the Asian economies (China, Japan and Korea). The workforce believes in achieving results by depending on each other to solve their own problems. This characteristic of team-spirit has flourished more in the Japanese leadership compared to Chinese and Korean leadership. Japanese leaders believe in a culture of imbibing best practices through empowering their subordinates to do better work. Excellent quality of work through skills and development has always been the reason for Japans dominance on the world for supply of efficient electronic products.

  1. 6.     Values

Management values are focused on both people and work ethics. People are the foundation of the organization and the culture of any organization is portrayed by their behavior. Work force motivation can be differentiated on many factors such as loyalty, recognition, power, affiliation, achievements and ability to face challenges. Loyalty may increase or decrease based on the opportunities offered by the employer to the employee. In Asian economies (China, Japan and Korea) unconditional loyalty is delivered by the employees.  The workforce strives for recognition because in their perception it is more important to be noticed by colleagues, superiors and the society as a whole.

Work force innovation and training forms an integral part of the Japanese leadership. Innovation is also a strategy emphasized by the Japanese leaders for business success. Human resource is trained and disciplined to achieve the best by being the best. Workers do not perform solely on the motivation of salary and recognition; their major influence is social standing among their people. The social status is important because of the cultural dynamics of the Japanese culture that thrives on the belief – We succeed together as One Nation, One economy and One Company!

Japanese workers are not susceptible to frequent job changes because they are committed to their employer more than work. In case of discrepancies in knowledge and skills, the workers are thoroughly trained to excellent standards. (Taleghai, Salmani and Taatian 2010, 103-110)force development is one of the main strategies adopted by Japanese companies to succeed in the Global economy. Sony is one company that has succeeded by leaps and bounds through innovation and manpower training. Japanese leaders are extremely compassionate about their followers and this is one reason they are highly respected. It is more like a Father and Son relationship between the Superior and subordinate. Since childhood, the Japanese workforce has learned the lessons of creating value based on strong bonds of brotherhood with the country men.  Hard work and acceptance of challenges with self-discipline is the forte of Japanese workers. The candidate who is more reliable becomes more successful in Japan. Managers do not stick to their authority by giving more freedom to the work staff and allowing them to learn and grow gradually. The employees adapt with the company strategy and become global leaders on the foundations of unmatched skills, expertise and knowledge.

Chinese leadership is more about influencing the subordinates to work on applicable terms and conditions. The authority to make critical decisions is centralized and it is strictly a top-bottom approach. Chinese leaders lead their subordinates through forming alliances with   strong and influential political and social figures. (NBR, 17-33)The Chinese superiors are efficient in control and management due to their art of creating an atmosphere that flourishes dedication, sincerity and commitment. The aristocratic nature of leadership makes all workers work for themselves and not just the company. Every worker strives to attain more power by building better relationship with their superiors. The lower management is always expected to remain under the work pressure and make no voice about their concerns. Most decisions are made considering the benefit of the decision makers and not the people who will be benefited by those decisions.

Korean leadership is conservative and the one that is influenced solely by power. This is an aristocratic type of leadership in which workers take orders and follow them. These follow the orders and “ask no-questions policy” leads to more followers than leaders. Consequently, responsibilities are not delegated and authority remains with a few aristocratic personalities.

Koreans lack the ability to take high risk jobs because they are more comfortable with accepting business that is highly regulated and certain in terms of its performance. Inequality is accepted because the social structure does not work on the principle of democracy. Unlike the Japanese leadership which is more tolerant about problems faced during work, Koreans are less tolerant and impatient to face challenges.



  1. Lewis , Richard D. 2000, Cross Culture the Lewis Model, viewed on 5th april 2012, 2-5 ,http://faculty.fuqua.duke.edu/ciber/ice/Cross%20Culture%20The%20Lewis%20Model.pdf .
  2. Martinsons, Maris G. ,Comparing The Decision Styles of America, Japanese andChinese Business Leaders ,  3-10. http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/apcity/unpan038569.pdf , 3-10
  3. Taleghani , Gholemriza  Salmani ,Dawood and Taatian Ali 2010, Survey of Leadership styles in different cultures. 103-110.http://www.ijms.ir/pg/03/ijms0306.pdf
  4. NBR Project Report , emerging Leaders In east Asia , 17-33.http://www.nbr.org/publications/specialreport/pdf/preview/PR08_EmergingLeaders_preview.pdf


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