Asian American leadership styles

March 28, 2007

This article about leadership styles and characteristics was published by Harvard Business School, Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique? It compares and contrasts leadership reproduction and succession in various cultural contexts in the corporate business world, which also has implications for the Asian American church:

To a significant degree, large American firms are at a later stage of development than many Asian firms—they have passed from founders’ family leadership to professional management and to capital obtained from the capital markets (rather than obtained from government—directly or indirectly—or from family fortunes). … It is possible, but not certain, that Asian firms will follow this evolutionary path.

Later in the article, it lists 9 key qualities of a successful leader:

  1. Passion
  2. Decisiveness
  3. Conviction
  4. Integrity
  5. Adaptability
  6. Emotional Toughness
  7. Emotional Resonance
  8. Self-Knowledge
  9. Humility

What does this mean for next generation Asian American church leaders? How can we better grow leaders? reproduce leaders? mentor leaders? Is there a difference in developing an Asian leader who can lead Asian Americans vs. an Asian leader who can lead a multiethnic group of Anglo Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans as well?

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Comments:3 Responses

Find more like this: Asian American, L2 Blog, leaders, leadership.

Link to this article:

daniel so
April 1st, 2007

thanks for linking to this article – some thought-provoking ideas.

though i don’t always think the business world provides the best models for leadership in the church, this article raises some interesting ideas about leadership qualities that are important across cultures. i often find myself put off by the “rah-rah” assertive/aggressive western model of leadership, so it was nice to get some different perspective here.

you raised some great questions at the end as well. mentoring is a huge issue in aa churches — it seems like many 2nd gen pastors have trouble mentoring younger 2nd gen pastors because they never received any from their 1st gen predecessors.

understanding different cultural values & perspectives is increasingly vital for aa pastors as their congregations become more diverse.

April 2nd, 2007

Daniel, thanks for your comments. I do think leadership is leadership, as Andy Stanley (Pastor of North Point in Atlanta) as he had noted in Leader’s Insight: Is Ministry Leadership Different? Andy Stanley and Jim Collins in an unexpected point-counterpoint. Organizational models will differ in profit vs. non-profit, business vs. church, but models differ from church to church too. That is to say, an organization will still look like an organization nonetheless.

I also don’t care for the aggressive western expression of leadership, but it works for its context. Underneath the different outward expressions of leadership in different cultures is still very much the same internal qualities of passion, conviction, decisiveness, and emotional toughness.

daniel so
April 2nd, 2007

dj — thanks linking to the stanley/collins article. it provided many great insights into the nature of church leadership and raised some important questions for me.

just to clarify a bit (it can be difficult to express a full thought in these comments): i definitely agree with you about an organization looking like an organization, whether it is a church or a business. in the end, though they might have very different goals, both come down to people. in that sense, i agree wholeheartedly with andy stanley that it would be a big mistake for churches to limit their understanding of leadership to things perceived as strictly “spiritual.”

i guess i just worry when church leaders buy into certain business leadership ideas wholesale, without critical thought, simply because it is the next big thing (although i suppose this applies equally to buying into church leadership ideas without critical thought).

it seems like great leaders are the ones who can glean principles from a wide variety of sources and then apply and embody them in their specific context.

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