Self-awareness and feedback are key ingredients to great leadership no matter what culture you come from.
“It will never work in Asia.” That was what I heard from veteran learning practitioners in the early days of Magnetic Leadership. I’ve heard that a lot in the last few years.
“They don’t do feedback and don’t care about self-awareness.” This sweeping generalization might have some truth behind it. But there’s a difference between not caring and not being aware of the advantages of a self-aware leader.
I stand by my conviction that truly great leaders are self-aware, and they gain that self-awareness through feedback they receive from those around them. Great leaders use feedback as a personal and professional growth opportunity. Great leaders in turn create a culture where self-awareness is encouraged and feedback is expected. Everyone grows in a culture like that.
I have run Magnetic Leadership in North and South America, Europe and now Asia. I did witness a very different approach to leadership in every region. Our simulation puts leaders into a pressure cooker and reveals who they are under the surface regardless of the regional culture. Even if a more direct approach is the norm, like in India. Or a standoffish reserved approach like in China. Or the
“let’s roll our sleeves up and get it done” mindset of US leaders. In each case, when they took a step back and received immediate constructive feedback from fellow participants in the simulation, you could see the wheels turning.
“Gosh, do I really do that?” In every case, you now see a new motivation to make some change in the way they lead.
But we can’t change unless we first know what needs to change, and that seems to be the missing ingredient globally. Assessments and coaching are great tools, but there is nothing as powerful as feedback in the moment. That is the great accelerator of behavior change. We’ve run Magnetic Leadership for over 2,000 people around the world in three years and we’ve learned that while every culture is unique, a great leader in any culture will:
- Set strategy and have a purpose
- Execute the strategy effectively and successfully
- Have happy and engaged employees who want to come to work
Very rarely have I seen anyone do all three, and do it well. We all have blindspots. Lets not get too caught up in cultural differences. No matter where you are, you should never underestimate the power of a self-aware leader.