Value Differences

In business, if you are a leader you must understand that people you lead probably have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, so do not expect the same performance in all tasks from everyone in your team. Personality type indicators, such as the Myers-Briggs indicator classify people on a spectrum of thinking versus feeling and planning versus intuitive. This serves to highlight that some people are naturally inclined to be organized and enjoy planning, while others prefer to leave things open and be spontaneous. There is no wrong and right way, and different people will fit better into different roles based on their performances and preferences.

In the modern globalized economy, it is also important to be aware of cultural differences. There is evidence that nationalities with distinct culture have different attitude.

In the 1960s and in the 1970s Geert Hofstede carried out a survey on 116,000 IBM employees across forty countries. The study discovered differences in cultural attitudes on a range of areas:

Power distance: The extent to which members of a society consent to power being distributed unequally in organizations, e.g. manager – subordinate relationship.

Collectivism/individualism: The degree to which the society reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal relationship.

Masculinism/Feminism: The division and application of masculine/feminine roles and values within the society, such as concern for others versus aggression.

Uncertainty avoidance: The extent to which a society manages the ambiguity of the future, and if people feel threatened by uncertainty.

Understanding such cultural differences does not mean racially profiling and stereotyping people, but instead appreciating and valuing other approaches.

Listening and thinking

“We have two ears, and one month so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. (Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, circa A.D.100). Illustration: Megan Jorgensen