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Executive Presence-Understanding Cultural Clash-Points for Better Relationships: Japan, Sri Lanka, Estonia, Dominican Republic, and Egypt

Executive Presence-Understanding Cultural Clash-Points for Better Relationships:  Japan, Sri Lanka, Estonia, Dominican Republic, and Egypt

by Terri Williams

The United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeds $16 trillion dollars. From a cultural perspective there are two amazing data points: first, 95% of US customers reside outside of its borders; which has an economic impact of more than $15 trillion dollars. Second, US minority demographics are approaching 40%, which affects 150 million citizens, residents, and employees. This data reveals that as citizens engaging with someone from another culture in the workplace is inevitable, and developing your cultural interpersonal skills is imperative.

International cultural expert Geert Hofstede shares, ”Performance depends on the fit between strategy and culture. First you need to know where you want to go, but where you want to go has to fit with your culture”

This month we review five countries, formed during the month of February:  Japan, Sri Lanka, Estonia, Dominican Republic, and Egypt with the idea of enhancing capabilities to build rapport culturally.  Building positive relationships is simply a good business, which affects the organization’s bottom line specifically increased profits and decreases in talent acquisition costs.

culture clash

 

CLASH-POINTS

  • Japan: self image/status, timeliness, leaders conform with Confucian hierarchy, obligations towards others follow a strict code, confrontation is to be avoided, harmony takes priority over directness, sometimes even over truth, and 43% of countries have a high long term orientation including Japan. The idea behind it is that the companies are not here to make Japan money every quarter for the share holders, but to serve the stake holders and society at large for many generations to come.
  • Sri Lanka:  65% of countries globally have high power distance, including Sri Lanka. People accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification.
  • Dominican Republic: loyalty to the family comes before any other social relationship, even business, nepotism is considered a good thing, since it implies employing people one knows and trusts, which is of primary importance, and over 60% of countries including Dominican Republic globally have low long term orientation. People exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results.
  • Egypt: rulers are at the pinnacle of power, a lot of nepotism in Arab companies where sons, nephews and brothers hold key positions, and 56% of countries including Egypt have a low individualistic orientation. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.
  • Estonia: educational level partly determines individual status, everyone is a leader and no one likes being led, and 38% of countries have a low masculine orientation, including Estonia. Society is driven by a certain amount of modesty and fairness. The Estonians do not boast about their achievements. Instead they enhance their character through hard work and diligence and show their competitiveness by letting the results speak for themselves.
  • United States: leadership symbolises the vitality and audacity of the land of free enterprise, status based on wealth, and 33% of countries have a lower power distance, including the USA. Primarily, all individuals in societies are not equal.

 

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE PERSPECTIVES

Cultural norms play a large part in the mechanics and interpersonal relationships of the workplace. When you grow up in a culture, you take your norms of behavior for granted. You don’t have to think about your reactions, preferences, and feelings.

When you step into a foreign culture, suddenly things seem different. You don’t know what to do or say. As a starting point, you can evaluate your approach, your decisions, and actions based on a general sense of how the society might think and react to you.  Using Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, which include:  Power distance index (PDI), Individualism (IDV) vs. collectivism, Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI), Masculinity (MAS), vs. femininity, Long-term orientation (LTO), vs. short term orientation, and Indulgence versus restraint (IVR).

Iceberg11

 

POWER DISTANCE:   Japan, Sir Lanka, Dominican Republic and Egypt, and 66% of countries rate high in Power Distance. Key focus issues include centralized companies, strong hierarchies, and large gaps in compensation, authority, and respect. In terms of building relationships:, acknowledge a leader’s power and be aware that you may need to go to the top for answers.  Estonia, the United States, and 33% of countries have a low power distance orientation: flatter organizations and supervisors and employees are considered almost as equals. In terms of building relationships: use teamwork and involve as many people as possible in decision making.

INDIVIDUALISM:  Estonia, the United States, and 43% of countries have a high individualistic orientation. Key focus issues include a high valuation on people’s time and their need for freedom, an enjoyment of challenges, and an expectation of rewards for hard work, and respect for privacy. In terms of relationship building acknowledge accomplishments, don’t ask for too much personal information, and encourage debate and expression of own ideas.  Japan, Sir Lanka, Dominican Republic, Egypt, and 56% of countries have a low individualistic orientation. Emphasis on building skills and becoming masters of something, work for intrinsic rewards, and harmony more important than honesty. In terms of relationship building, show respect for age and wisdom, suppress feelings and emotions to work in harmony, and respect traditions and introduce change slowly.

MASCULINITY:  Japan, Dominican Republic, the United States (62), and 48% of countries have a high masculine orientation. Men are masculine and women are feminine and there is a well defined distinction between men’s work and women’s work. In terms of relationship building be aware that people may expect male and female roles to be distinct and advise men to avoid discussing emotions or making emotionally based decisions or arguments.  Sir Lanka, Estonia, Egypt, and 38% of countries have a low masculine orientation. A woman can do anything a man can do and powerful and successful women are admired and respected. In terms of relationship, building avoid an “old boys’ club” mentality, ensure job design and practices are not discriminatory to either gender, and treat men and women equally.

UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE:  Japan, Estonia, Egypt, and 78% of countries have a high uncertainty orientation. Very formal business conduct with lots of rules and policies need and expect structure, sense of nervousness spurns high levels of emotion and expression, and differences are avoided. In terms of business relationships be clear and concise about your expectations and parameters, plan and prepare, communicate often and early, provide detailed plans, and focus on the tactical aspects of a job or project, and express your emotions through hand gestures and raised voices.  Sir Lanka, Dominican Republican, the United States (46), and 21% of countries have a low uncertainty orientation. More concern with long term strategy than what is happening on a daily basis, and accepting of change and risk. In terms of business relationships, do not impose rules or structure unnecessarily, minimize your emotional response by being calm and contemplating situations before speaking, and express curiosity when you discover differences.

LONG TERM VIEW (Pragmatism):  Japan, Estonia and 43% of countries have a high long term view. Family is the basis of society, parents and men have more authority than young people and women, strong work ethic, and high value placed on education and training. In terms of business relationships, show respect for traditions, do not display extravagance or act frivolously, reward perseverance, loyalty, and commitment, and avoid doing anything that would cause another to “lose face.”  Sir Lanka, Dominican Republic, Egypt, the United States, and 60% of countries have a low long term view. Promotion of equality, high creativity, individualism, and treat others as you would like to be treated, and self-actualization is sought. In terms of business relationships, expect to live by the same standards and rules you create, be respectful of others, and do not hesitate to introduce necessary changes.

INDULGENCE VS RESTRAINT:  Dominican Republic, the United States, and 39% of countries have a high indulgence society, which is a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun. Restraint stands for a society that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms. Freely satisfy basic needs and behavior, cannot easily be motivated with material reward, enjoys moment rather than uses time to compare with others, and objects need to fulfill purpose not status.  Japan, Sir Lanka, Estonia, Egypt, and 60% of countries have a restraint society, which is a society, that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates it by mean of strict social norms. Gratification suppressed and regulated, expects (material) reward for job done well, and easily feels treated unfair, status objects important, e.g. phone, laptop, watch, company Of course, no society is homogenous, and there will be deviations from the norms found. However, with this as your guide you won’t be going in blind. The unknown will be a little less intimidating and you’ll get a much-needed boost of confidence and security from studying this cultural model.

If you are interested in additional training in enhancing your global interpersonal relationships, please contact Terri L. Williams.


panache-logoTerri L. Williams is an executive presence expert specializing in communications, gravitas, and appearance. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of specialized experience in human resource management and corporate protocol. Terri is also a veteran of the United States Army, with service in domestic and international assignments. As the President and Founder of Panache Career Strategies, LLC, Terri L. Williams leads Executive Presence training programs and seminars that can help you to improve your skills. A leader in facilitating the “gold standard” in a wide range of services focused on solutions for individual, group, customized programs, seminars and keynote speeches. Working with leaders and executives Panache Career Strategies, LLC will support their executive presence goals in communications and gravitas.

©Copyright 2015 Panache Career Strategies, LLC. All rights reserved and © Corporate Class Inc. – With exclusive permission.  Reproduction or retransmission of the materials, in whole or in part, in any manner, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, is strictly prohibited and is a violation of copyright law. In all cases, this notice must remain intact.  Photograph sources: Google Images.  Panache Career Strategies is dedicated to improving the understanding of Executive Presence (EP).

Photograph sources: Google Images

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Executive Presence Spotlight: George Washington

by Terri L. Williams

George Washington was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732. As a young man, he learned the morals, manners, and george washingtonknowledge necessary to become a Virginia gentleman. He was particularly interested in the military arts and western expansion. At the age of 15, he wrote the book, Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.  At the age of 16, he helped survey Shenandoah lands. At the age of 22, he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel and fought in the first battles of what became the French and Indian War. Unanimously elected as the first President of the United States, Washington served two terms before retiring to Mount Vernon. He passed away on December 14, 1799.

Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, is 30 pages and has 110 Rules, many of which consist of only one sentence.  Most of the rules, while they are common sense, remind us of how we, over 225 years later, should interact with people. Other rules advise us not to give medical advice to friends if we’re not a doctor, you frustrate the sick. Don’t be too hasty to spread news of someone else’s misfortunes. In a business relationship, make conversation quick and to the point, yet not cold or unpleasant. The small size of the book allows for it to be carried in a purse or briefcase easily so that you can frequently look at it.

Foundations Magazine, states that George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together.  These rules proclaim our respect for others and in turn give us the gift of self-respect and heightened self-esteem.

 

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE PERSPECTIVES

How you treat others is strongly integrated with how you build relationships and network.  In particular, how do you build strong relationships with your clients and peers? For many, networking with clients outside the office is as important as the work done during business hours. This often takes the form of extensive dinners or late nights of eating and drinking. However, as we head into the New Year after a season of hefty holiday meals and endless Christmas cookies, dining lavishly with clients may seem unappealing. But just before the holidays I read an article in the New York Times that provided an intriguing alternative: taking a client to the gym for networking and working out. It’s an unconventional option, but also one that could seriously strengthen your client relationships and your health.

The business developers, traders, and account directors interviewed for the article all had begun to feel the same exhaustion with countless late nights and indulgent networking parties and dinners. Trying out healthy activities with clients as a substitute – from spin classes to early morning runs – proved to have benefits beyond incorporating a workout into the work day. One business developer pointed out that workouts reveal “a different side of you” in front of a client: showing that you are willing to take on new, different, and intense challenges. A trader who switched from dining to cycling with clients appreciated the regularity of a weekly workout, noting that he was able to meet more often with clients at the gym than over dinner once per month. And, of course, no one will check their email or take calls during a workout – allowing the focus to remain on you and your client.

This kind of alternative networking activity gives you the opportunity to impress your client. It allows you a chance to stand out and show your creative side, as dining and drinking is a standard and predictable means to network. Also, you can adjust your workout to fit your client’s tastes. For example, if your client likes to dance, sign up for a Zumba class. If the client is not a serious athlete, try something with lower intensity such as a yoga class. Customizing your workout will add a personal touch, and your client could recognize your extra effort and considerate gesture as a positive indication of your business methods.

Of course, casual attire is necessary and expected at the gym. But donning sweats and a t-shirt around clients seems counter-intuitive. So how do you dress up a notch when working out becomes a business affair? The article briefly addresses this concern, but it is worth further discussion. First of all, wear your highest-quality workout gear. This means a well-fitting yet modest athletic shirt and appropriate bike shorts, leggings, or stretch pants of a solid colour – and no old sweats or oversized baggy t-shirts. For both men and women, stores like Lululemon or Helly Hansen offer great choices for athletic gear that looks sharp and fits well. You can also find pre- and post-exercise pieces like a matching zip-up or pullover.

Plan for appropriate accessories and appearance as well. Don’t apply perfume or cologne before exercising, and for women, minimal makeup is best – opt for any waterproof makeup that won’t run when you sweat. Pack your essentials (water bottle, headband, towel, makeup bag, change of clothes and shoes) in a sleek gym bag or tote. Keeping your gear neat and organized will make for a smooth transition from gym to office.

Though this form of networking may sound unusual, it certainly is gaining in popularity. Would you try signing up your clients for a spin class or taking them out on a morning run? What other ways do you network with clients? Exercise activities could help you to strengthen your bonds and build relationships with your clients – not to mention, allow you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions!


panache-logoTerri L. Williams is an executive presence expert specializing in communications, gravitas, and appearance. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of specialized experience in human resource management and corporate protocol. Terri is also a veteran of the United States Army, with service in domestic and international assignments. As the President and Founder of Panache Career Strategies, LLC, Terri L. Williams leads Executive Presence training programs and seminars that can help you to improve your skills. A leader in facilitating the “gold standard” in a wide range of services focused on solutions for individual, group, customized programs, seminars and keynote speeches. Working with leaders and executives Panache Career Strategies, LLC will support their executive presence goals in communications and gravitas.

© Copyright 2015 Panache Career Strategies, LLC. All rights reserved and © Corporate Class Inc. – With exclusive permission. Reproduction or retransmission of the materials, in whole or in part, in any manner, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, is strictly prohibited and is a violation of copyright law. In all cases, this notice must remain intact. Photograph sources: Google Images. Panache Career Strategies is dedicated to improving the understanding of Executive Presence (EP).

Free Resources

Virtual Courses. Learn the fundamental importance of Professional and Executive presence.

Our Weekly Blog. Receive weekly insights and useful tips on Executive Presence and professional image on our blog

Executive Presence Quiz. Test your executive presence knowledge with this fun and fast quiz. Take the quiz here.

Share and Enjoy

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  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
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