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Leadership and Societal Culture Essay

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2021

Introduction

The modern world can be characterized by extreme diversity. The fast speed of globalization resulted in the disappearance of borders that for centuries had limited opportunities for cultural interchange. That is why today people can freely speak with representatives of other nations and share their experiences and attitudes to particular issues. The appearance of this ability created the basis for drastic changes in social culture.

Individuals had to adapt to a new framework formed under the impact of numerous mentalities and perspectives. The sphere of business and leadership became domains that experienced the most powerful effect and had to alter radially to meet new requirements. The reason for this strong impact is the increased importance of these two spheres for the modern world as they shape the way it evolves and provides people with opportunities for self-actualization, realization, and generation of benefits. However, under the influence of many factors that form people’s mentality today, both business and leadership have to consider the strong influence of societal culture as one of the most potent forces preconditioning the success or failure of a certain venture.

Background

In general, speaking about the concept of societal culture, it is critical to mention that in the modern business environment it becomes the fundamental aspect directing the evolution of companies and impacting all processes essential for their becoming successful. One of the important demands for the modern and sustainable firm is its close cooperation with the representatives of the local communities to understand their needs better and provide needed services or products to stimulate the further evolution of a particular society.

Additionally, it can precondition the choice of strategies or approaches that will work with the increased level of effectiveness because of their correspondence with the existing set of values and perspectives (Mittal & Elias, 2016). Under these conditions, the increased importance of societal culture becomes explained by the effect it has on corporations and firms along with its close connection with other critical domains such as leadership and climate within organizations. In accordance with the modern perspective on management, adherence to the basic ideas of societal culture is needed for the achievement of the main goals through the cultivation of appropriate leadership. In such a way, these two concepts become interconnected.

Societal Culture’s Importance

The importance of the concept can also be explained by its definition. Societal culture is a set of values, ideas, perspectives, and dominant attitudes that are followed by a certain society to interact the most effective and share common ideas (Baniasadi & Dastmalchian, 2014). From the given description one can understand the wide scope of the term and its interconnection with the most important spheres of human activity. Societal culture preconditions people’s responses to the majority of factors and stressors that might emerge in the course of the development of the organization, business, or even state.

At the same time, while planning a particular project, a leader responsible for outcomes should be informed about the existing peculiarities of people’s mentalities to achieve the best possible result and ensure that all factors needed for the final success are taken into account (Baniasadi & Dastmalchian, 2014). This idea increases the significance of the concept of societal culture and shows its fundamental role in the modern world. The effectiveness of contemporary leaders to a greater degree depends on their ability to act regarding this set of ideas.

That is why the perspective on leadership cultivated today presupposes that a leader acquires multiple opportunities to act in terms of existing societal culture and create conditions beneficial for its further evolution. The definition of this concept states that it is a set of actions and strategies that are used to motivate a group of people to act in the ways that can help to achieve a particular goal or desired states (Hamrin, Johansson, & Jahn, 2016). In such a way, a leader should possess the needed skills to inspire his/her followers to engage in a particular activity that will help to satisfy existing needs (Bucher, 2015).

However, it becomes possible only if there is a clear understanding of the topical ideas and how they can be communicated to others in the most effective ways (Muchiri & Kiambati, 2015). It proves the existence of the direct correlation between leadership and the dominant elements of a societal culture that will impact individuals and their responses to the proposed strategies. In such a way, the combination of personal skills along with the correct understanding of how communities evolve and what needs they have resulted in the emergence of successful leadership.

Furthermore, in accordance with the existing theories related to the sphere of leadership, leaders’ personal traits and behaviors become a critical element of success as they precondition followers’ reactions and the correct choice of strategy. For instance, in accordance with the behavioral theory of leadership, observable actions and responses of leaders and followers depend on the context and environment in which they acquire their perspectives and ideas (Muchiri & Kiambati, 2015).

In other words, societal culture becomes a critical element impacting the formation of a leader as he/she acquires an improved understanding of the central factors that should be considered while planning the evolution of a particular entity, organization, or even state. Behaviors become the fundamental indicators of specific styles and strategies selected by a leader and his/her level of understanding needed to achieve a particular goal.

Furthermore, from this very perspective, at the international level, societal culture continues to play a critical role because of the existence of multiple differences between people living in different countries. It means that the effectiveness of certain strategies can vary depending on the peculiarities of the local environment and beliefs of people living in many locations.

Finally, the importance of societal culture can be proven by its outstanding role in organizations and their evolution. The majority of relevant sources devoted to the investigation of this very issue state that organizational culture is formed under the impact of societal one, which means that there is a strong bond between these two issues (Mustafa & Lines, 2016). Moreover, the creation of a potent organization with clear goals significant achievement becomes possible only if the current demands of society or populations are considered.

From this very perspective, societal culture and leadership become closely connected as two integral elements of further development and growth (Gordon, 2017). The assumptions offered in these sections can be proven by the analysis of the ways leaders in different states work regarding the existing distinctive features of societies and their cultures.

Putin’s Leadership Style

For instance, one of the most popular and known examples of a strong leader is the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. An outstanding role this leader plays in the functioning of his state and international discourse is evidenced by the fact that the majority of modern politicians and analysis accept him as one of the most powerful figures impacting the further development of global relations (Nemtsova, 2015). Additionally, he participates in the most important processes that shape the modern world, which proves Putting’s critical significance for global policy and his effectiveness as a leader.

However, he became a president at hard times for Russia as it was still recovering after the collapse of the USSR and had a number of problems to solve. Thus, due to the utilization of effective strategies and in-time measures, the state managed to overcome the majority of difficulties and enter a new century as one of the most powerful actors impacting the international discourse and protecting its own interests. Specialists associate this success with the effectiveness of Putin as a leader.

Analyzing his leadership style, it is critical to admit several important factors that shape it. First of all, Russia has strong and prolong traditions of absolutism as for centuries it had been ruled by emperors who concentrated an absolute power in their hands. During the Soviet period, the main tendency preserved as Stalin and his ancestors had the right to accept any solutions or strategies for the development (Thoburn, 2016).

This fact apparently impacted people’s mentality and preconditioned the emergence of the unique societal culture characterized by the existence of absolutist traditions and beliefs. Additionally, the collapse of the USSR resulted in the appearance of new aspects of people’s culture such as individualism, focus on private benefits, and generation of revenues (Nemtsova, 2015). What is worse, the collapse of a powerful state and disappearance of motherland became a strong demotivating factor for millions of people who lost the idea of how to move forward and evolve in terms of the new capitalist economy and altered ideology characterized by the radical shift of priorities. It became a dangerous situation limiting the further evolution of the state.

For this reason, the combination of all these aspects preconditioned the need for a special type of leader who will be able to consider the unique peculiarities of societal culture and introduce alterations that are needed to motivate people by establishing new goals. This requirement became the central one forming Putin’s leadership style and preconditioning his strategy for the further several years.

Determining his style, it is critical to say that from the one hand it was essential to reduce the negative impact of actors promoting the further weakening of the state and its separation, and from another, it was fundamental to introduce new more democratic methods of governing. For this reason, Putin’s leadership style can be determined as autocratic one combined with the elements of democracy and involvement of dependent players in problem-solving activities (Nemtsova, 2015).

The necessity to adhere to this very approach was preconditioned to made decisions quickly and implement solutions with the functioning of society. That is why Putin accepted the whole responsibility as a leader for all steps and strategies that were also offered by him without any additional consultations with others.

As it becomes evident from the current situation in Russia and its growing power at the international level, the given leadership style became an appropriate choice and effective method to resolve problems Russia experienced. Resting on the existing societal culture, the President managed to gather powerful support from citizens, which provided him with more opportunities to impact the political life of the state and accept critical strategic decisions on his own.

At the same time, the societal culture was affected by the rich history of Russia and its dominant role in world politics. It meant that people wanted restoration of Russia’s significance and it’s becoming one of the superstates preconditioning the development of the global discourse (Thoburn, 2016). Correctly realizing these moods, Putin started to solve problems related to the foreign policy and state’s role at the international level with less attention to the social sphere as it has traditionally been considered not so significant for this region (Nemtsova, 2015). As a result, his leadership style, strongly impacted by the peculiarities of people’s mentalities and their expectations coming from the societal culture, became an effective solution to the majority of problems Russia faced.

Erdogan’s Leadership Style

Speaking about another state’s leader with a similar leadership style, it is possible to mention Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey. He came to the rule in 2014 and since that time the state has experienced critical changes in its structure, domestic and foreign policy, and its role and the international level. Turkey, previously part of the mighty Ottoman Empire, also had significant ambitions for being one of the leading states which impacted its societal culture and people’s mentalities (Sazam, 2019).

However, because of the peculiarities of the global discourse and the state’s economic and social development after WWI and WWII, the country started to play a low-key role at the international level. Under these conditions, the need for a strong leader that would be able to reconsider these patterns emerged. Additionally, the traditional neutrality peculiar to previous presidents posed multiple questions regarding the role of this institution in the life of the country and its ability to stimulate radical changes needed to create the basis for further Turkey’s evolution. Under these conditions, the leadership style of Erdogan became the embodiment of existed people’s expectations and peculiarities of the societal culture that existed in the state at that period of time.

Additionally, in accordance with the topical theory of behavioral leadership, the bigger part of traits that are demanded from a person to effectively motivate followers, emerge under the impact of existing conditions. That is why Erdogan’s presidency can be considered a reflection of moods shown by society. His first decisions preconditioned the empowerment of the institution and the accumulation of additional powers to become an authoritative leader.

The adherence to this very style becomes a potent choice to manage the state effectively and stimulate the consolidation of the national forces and promotion of the idea of the increased role in the region and at the international level (Sazam, 2019). The given purpose preconditioned the increased importance of the majority of solutions made by the President and his success as a leader. The concentration of powers in the same hands became possible mainly due to the corresponding moods among the population of Turkey and the strong societal support provided to Erdogan (Sazam, 2019). Elimination of opposition and reduction or resistance became one of the important elements of his leadership style and preconditioned the ability to alter the state significantly.

Correlating his leadership style with the existing societal culture, the severe and in many cases ambiguous measures can be explained by the unstable political situation and the emerging threat from the Islamic state. Suffering from the chain of terrorist acts, the population of Turkey demanded more security and resolution of traditional problems of national unity, identity, and power. That is why Erdogan’s Presidency as well as the approach to managing his followers, is marked by the attempt to reconstitute the presidential system via the creation of more centralized power to cope with external threats effectively.

From the theoretical perspective, the existing environment preconditioned the formation of a particular behavior and its acceptance by people living in the state (Daragahi, 2018). A significant part of Erdogan’s decisions is taken as controversial ones because of the introduction of multiple limits on the freedom of speech by silencing the free press or concentration of outstanding power hands of one person. However, because of the existing societal culture with the tradition of a strong ruler, they are accepted by followers and remain effective in solving problems that emerge in the course of the state’s development.

Chavez’s Leadership Style

Continuing the analysis of leaders whose actions and methods were impacted by the existing environment, and who managed to significantly affect the evolution of states, it is critical to mention Hugo Chavez as one of the most contradictory and influential Presidents. The importance of this person for Venezuela can be evidenced by the fact that soon after his death, the country entered the stage of a prolonged crisis affecting all its spheres.

His democratic ascent to the presidency in 1999 meant a new age for the country that experienced a set of critical problems deteriorating the quality of people’s lives and indicating the need for drastic changes to create the basis for future improvements (Rapoza, 2019). In such a way, his unique leadership style and introduced solutions can be considered a result of the existing societal culture. In accordance with the current approach, any leader is formed by the community in which it grows as his/her mentality and perspectives are shaped by problems people face (Rapoza, 2019). Belonging to a poor family, Chavez was able to correctly realize the needs that should be fulfilled for people to follow him and accept him as a leader.

One of the central factors that preconditioned the high popularity of Chavez and his government and his re-election was significant progress achieved by the state during his presidency. It becomes apparent that being a leader, he had to solve multiple problems arising from the peculiarities of the historical development of Venezuela and the state of its economy. Chavez became a leader that appeared because of the complex situation in the country and high inequality rates characterized by the unfair distribution of costs (Rapoza, 2019).

In such a way, he can be considered a situational leader that managed to correctly realize the most important problems that should be solved to achieve progress. Additionally, his actions can also be explained by the improved ability to motivate people and make them believe in the possibility to attain the outlined goals (Rapoza, 2019). The complexity of the situation demanded the introduction of severe and sometimes unpopular measures to avoid further stagnation and deterioration of the problem. For this reason, one of the most important solutions was to take control of the national oil company PDVSA and redistribute all revenues between the most problematic sectors.

The effectiveness of Chavez’s leadership style can also be evidenced by the fact that he always had strong social support. It means that the consideration of existed societal factors resulted in the creation and utilization of an effective method of governing the state with the focus on the development of infrastructure and fulfillment of the most important communities’ needs such as the creation of schools, improvement, and affordability of education, cultivation of medicine, and constantly increasing level of income (Rapoza, 2019). From another hand, Chavez can be considered a charismatic leader that used his ability to influence people to emphasize the necessity of proposed change (Rapoza, 2019).

Analyzing the societal culture of the state, it can be concluded that his leadership style was shaped by the need for radical change to prevent the disappearance of the country which demanded a potent and strong leader with the ability to introduce unexpected and hard decisions. Mainly due to the reliance on wide social support, Chavez managed to act effectively and overcome poverty, inequality, and collapse in the sphere of the economy.

Zeman’s Leadership Style

Finally, ending the analysis of various leadership styles and peculiarities of the environment that impacted their formation, the evaluation of Milos Zeman’s Presidency can be performed. Being the head of the Czech Republic, he managed to become a popular leader supported by citizens because of his perspectives on modern international discourse and the way the country should evolve. In general, he is determined as a populist leader who follows the existing moods peculiar to the bigger part of the population and tries to balance between various parties.

The effectiveness of this very approach is explained by the fact that at the moment, the societal culture of the state is impacted by several strong factors. On one hand, there is a desire to become a part of the European discourse and remain a member of the EU forgetting the socialist past and entering a new stage. At the same time, there is a desire to preserve the national identity and prevent its disappearance under the impact of external forces (Tamkin, 2017). To a greater degree, Zeman’s style is stipulated by these factors.

Being a populist leader means acting in ways that are appreciated by society. In such a way, the President’s decisions to a greater degree come from the existing requirements of the population. For instance, Zeman remains one of the main opponents of the idea to shelter migrants from the Middle East because of their possible negative impact on the economy, culture, and social aspect of the state (Tamkin, 2017).

Regardless of multiple negative reactions from the heads of other countries belonging to the EU, the population of the Czech Republic supports this decision because of their desire to protect their lands from external influences. Additionally, there is a number of other populist solutions such as the promotion of better relations with potent European states and emphasis on the historical events that shaped people’s mentalities (Surotchak & Twinning, 2018). The combination of these solutions preconditions Zeman’s effectiveness as a leader who can motivate and manage followers effectively by supporting their moods and showing directions in which to evolve.

Analyzing peculiarities of this leader and his leadership style, it is also critical to state that he remains less dependent on the alteration of existing moods and values if compare with previous ones because of the avoidance of authoritarian methods and use of legal instruments available to all presidents. At the same time, he does not have such a significant impact on the further evolution of the country because of the existence of the Parliament and its ability to affect policy-making.

In such a way, in accordance with the theory of leadership, Zeman’s style and traits are formed under the impact of an existing societal culture that presupposes the existence of a populist leader who will be able to reflect the current moods and protect them at different levels (Peterson & Barreto, 2018). At the same time, his authorities are limited because of the same societal values and needs that stipulate his evolution and formation.

Conclusion

Altogether, the given analysis of different leaders and their styles proves the idea that societal culture remains one of the most important factors impacting the appearance, evolution, and authorities of a leader. The paper evidence the statement that the unique peculiarities of countries and existing demands introduce the need for specific measures that can help to achieve progress and evolve.

Additionally, the choice of the leadership style becomes another aspect depending on the dominant culture, values, and people’s views on particular problems. That is why political leaders in various states have completely different traits and authorities that help them to inspire and motivate followers. In conclusion, societal culture remains the most important force preconditioning the evolution and formation of leaders in different regions.

References

Baniasadi, H., & Dastmalchian, A. (2014). The differentiating characteristics of societal cultures: An examination of societal values, practices and potential for change. Journal of Comparative International Management, 17(1). Web.

Bucher, R. (2015). Diversity consciousness: Opening our minds to people, cultures, and opportunities (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Daragahi, B. (2018). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

Gordon, J. (2017). The power of positive leadership: How and why positive leaders transform teams and organizations and change the world. New York, NY: Wiley.

Hamrin, S., Johansson, C., & Jahn, J. L. S. (2016). Communicative leadership. Corporate Communications, 21(2), 213-229. Web.

Mittal, R., & Elias, S. M. (2016). Social power and leadership in cross-cultural context. The Journal of Management Development, 35(1), 58-74. Web.

Muchiri, M., & Kiambati, K. (2015). Relating leadership processes, societal culture and knowledge management: A theoretical model. Journal of Global Business Issues, 9(1). Web.

Mustafa, G., & Lines, R. (2016). The emergence and effects of culturally congruent leadership: Current status and future developments. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 4(1), 161-180. Web.

Nemtsova, A. (2015). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

Peterson, M. F., & Barreto, T. S. (2018). Interpreting societal culture value dimensions. Journal of International Business Studies, 49(9), 1190–1207. Web.

Rapoza, K. (2019). . Forbes. Web.

Tamkin, E. (2017). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

Thoburn, H. (2016). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

Sazam, S. (2019). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

Surotchak, J., & Twinning, D. (2018). . ForeignPolicy. Web.

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