The Pivot Factor in Cross Cultural Management | How to Effectively Manage People Across Cultures

Effective cross-cultural leadership and management require what is known as the "pivot factor." Pivoting in intercultural management refers to the need to adapt your leadership style when working with different cultures.

In intercultural teams, there may be differences in:
 communication style
 work ethic
 conflict resolution style
 feedback style
 the use of time
 motivating factors
 stressors
 and many more aspects

Managing a team of people from different cultures is never "one size fits all." Attitudes, philosophies and behaviors may not affect everyone in the same way, and may even be counterproductive.

For example, the extremely direct and blunt communication style of American managers may not be appreciated in a culture which values indirect communication and diplomacy, like Japan.

We all come with our own cultural conditioning, and our own perceptions of the right way and the best way.

However, professionals in leadership positions abroad often make a terrible mistake. They apply the same management and leadership techniques they use in their home country, without even thinking about adapting to the host culture’s values and styles.

The need to “pivot’ in multicultural management was first explained in the Harvard Business Review article "The Attributes of an Effective Global Leader" by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Main takeaways:
Majority of US and UK leaders said: demonstrating authority was the best way to win respect - the "vertical pivot.”
Majority of leaders in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and Turkey said: the best way to win respect is by showing emotional intelligence - the "horizontal pivot.”

Are YOU applying the pivot factor in your leadership style for your multicultural team?


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