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Home » Leadership, Teams

Leaders & Teams in Thailand

Submitted by on Thursday, 8 December 2011No Comment

‘What should we work on first – our leaders or our teams?’ is a question we have been asked a lot recently, especially in Thailand.

And the question is a very valid one, since companies are trying to upgrade the capabilities of their teams and leaders at the same time. But is there an order in which this should be done?

Often, clients will note that ‘leadership’ is the gap that needs most urgent attention in their companies, and thus prioritise training this specific skill set.

But so often, this ‘direct’ approach backfires in Asia. Let me explain why.

Leaders are only as good as their… teams

We’re probably all familiar with the movies where a charismatic leader is able to inspire his or her team to heroic efforts. And, given that most of these movies originate in America, it’s not hard to discern the very individualistic strain that runs through them.

Leaders ThailandThe Anglo-Saxon concept of leadership tends to glorify this type of leader. Think of Maximus (played by Russell Crowe) in Gladiator, or Mel Gibson’s character in Braveheart. It’s easy to be seduced by such chest-thumping examples of leaders.

However research conducted by the world’s leading cross-cultural authority, Geert Hofstede, should serve as a caution to companies wishing to use Leadership as a starting point for their management training. This is because his very extensive research has discovered that most Asian countries don’t share this individualistic concept of leadership. In fact, they are as a whole more collective or ‘group oriented’ in character (those interested can see the difference between individualism and collectivism here, as well as the data for select countries).

What this tells us is that people from countries with high collectivist orientation prefer to move forward as a group, rather than as a number of individuals.

Why fight when you can flow?

Last week The Daily Reckoning proposed a new theory of government. It goes as follows – ‘I can’t lead. And I don’t want to follow.’

This struck a chord with us here at Talent Technologies, because it’s a mode of thought that is becoming increasingly prevalent here in Asia.

teams in Thailand

More and more professionals – especially those in the Gen Y category – don’t want to lead, and also don’t want to follow. Or rather, don’t want to follow in the traditional sense of following rules and regulations, and bosses etc.

Yet this group of professionals do seem to work more effectively as part of a team – when a team is formed. The problem is, as we saw in a previous post of ours here – teams are actually a rarity in Asia. ‘Groups’ predominate, but a group is not a team.

Given this, does it really make more sense to go from group to team, or group to leader, first?

Teams must come first…

From our experience teams must come first. This is not only because the step from group to team as opposed to group to leader, outlined above, is the more natural one. And this is not only because Gen Y tend to be serial responsibility-shirkers.

It’s also because the conceptual gap – i.e. the number of concepts and behaviours required to ‘change’ to ‘become a leader’ are so many that it’s no surprise that most leadership training programmes fail miserably to achieve their goals.

And most of all it’s because – and please note this carefully – that the medium of a strong team itself makes the work of leadership easy!

In other words, get the team right, and you won’t have to lead (so much!)

If you’re thinking of developing your team, then look no further than the world’s #1 team development programme here. And, once you’ve put your team through that, why not work on the stuff of leadership in this award-winning training programme – The Leadership Challenge?

Happy teamwork, and happy leading!


Talent Technologies :: Taking your Talent to a Higher Level



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