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Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena in the world. A while back it was assumed that leadership skills were inherited according to Harris (2009) the assumption continued that the only skills required were just to control the behavior of other within a group. But in the present world things has changed, a leader more than behavior control, he/she is expected to motivate, organize and also influence others in a group. Therefore, with this change prompted people to scrutinize leadership and what factors influence the way a leader organizes, motivates and influences those under him.

Theoretical reflection

We learn through different ways, but mostly we learn through the environment. When a baby is born its parents influence the major part of its environment and therefore a child mostly learns through the parents. As it grows to learn through other people in his environment like relatives and friends and also through introspection and reflection. More to this there is culture plays a very major role in the way we perceive the environment (Velzen, 2015). As defined in the urban dictionary culture is a people’s belief, values, behavior and material object that constitute a people’s way of life. Therefore, when we say that the baby’s first teachers are its parent, whatever it learns is the ways of life of its parents, which is their culture.

Practical Reflection

Different cultures entail
difference in values, attitude and behavior and obviously, this has some influence in leadership (Morse and Buss, 2003). The leader of any group is a human being like any other, therefore his/her up to
bring will obviously his leadership styles. For example, consider a leader from a culture where the man is the sole provider of the family and the woman is supposed to always support the man in his endeavor. When segregating duties and responsibilities such a leader will obviously most give priority in rank to men as opposed to women. Such a leader will also tend to appoint men in positions that entail leadership. But times have changed and people are being forced to change with times.

In the 1970s philosopher tried to analyze what really constituted an effective leadership. And with much research on the topic, they came to observe an emergence of a new type of leadership; transformational leadership and transactional leadership. As stated by Spahr (2014) a leader who uses transformational leadership pushes people to achieve their best or remarkable results. The leader and the worker engage in some sort of transaction, the workers are pushed to work to their best and in turn, they are rewarded because of it (Northouse, 2007). The leader is keen at observing each individual under him/her and identifies the strength and the weakness. The On the other hand, transactional leadership is characterized by the preference of order and structure. Therefore leaders that characterize this command with very much strictness and have very formal authority (Walumbwa & Wernsing, 2012). They are very much focused on routine and maintaining it. In contrast, with the first, the leader here is mainly keen on teamwork rather than individual strengths and weaknesses. The difference between the two is that transformational is focused on inspiring and motivation the people while transactional leadership mainly depends on self-motivated workers who are orderly and work well in a structured environment (Kidney, 2015). My interest is how culture influences which style or approach a leader uses.

In my research, I will not only focus on the leader but also on the followers. First, we need to know is why culture influences the approach in leadership style. As we have seen above culture influences how we perceive our environment, therefore it influences our idea of the traits and characteristics that an ideal leader should possess (Antonakinas and House, 2014). For example in Arabic countries and Latin American countries are characterized by power distance. This means that people in authority in the respected merely because of the position they hold. Workers rarely question orders from their leaders (Velzen, 2015). This is therefore not a wonder that such a culture leadership will mainly lean on the transformational type of leadership. The leader just gives orders and the workers or followers are expected to obey. There is less interaction between the leader and the workers.

In another type of culture let us consider some countries in the Far East and Europe such as Japan and China, France and Germany that are keener on details and avoid uncertainties in whatever they do. Spahr (2014) claims that such leaders, therefore, like precision and this can mainly be achieved through teamwork. They like working as a unit. Therefore the transformational approach of leadership favors them.

Cultures can also be classified as either individualism or collectivism. Individualism, as explain by Hofstede, is characterized by people focused on relying on themselves, a sense of independence, identity-based on the individual, it also emphasizes on individual initiative and achievement and decisions are based on individual needs. According to Sadler (2003), in such a culture there is a sense of need for self- improvement and self-growth. Individuals are recognized and valued for their achievement (Walumbwa and Wernsing, 2012). This is very understandable that such culture tends to prefer transactional leadership style. The workers are pushed to do their best and constantly want to be the best at what they do; they are rewarded for it. on the other hand, there is the collectivism culture which is characterized by extreme loyalty to the group, the decision made are those that are best for the group, much dependence on the organization and institution and there is much emphasis on the sense of belonging.

Transactional leadership tends to boost economic development, less overdependence. Greater social mobility and individuals learn how to learn (Velzen, 2015). When it comes to collectivism, individuals are dependent on the social network for security; there is less economic development and less social mobility.


Therefore we have seen that despite a global need for a leader to possess certain specific characteristics culture tend to influence the type of leadership approach. There are two main leadership styles; namely transformational and transactional. Cultures that encourage collectivism tend to prefer transformational leadership as opposed to individualism culture which prefers transactional leadership approach. We have also seen that the transactional is more advantageous to an organization and also to an individual that transformational. Therefore in a nut shell we have seen how culture influence leadership perceptions and behavior.


Antonakinas, J & House, R. (2014). «Instrumental leadership: Measurement and extension of transformational-transactional leadership theory.» The leadership Quarterly.

Harris, A. (2009). «Leadership succession.» School Leadership & Management (2009).

Kidney, R. (2015). «Transaformational/transactional Leadership.» Wiley Encyclopedia of Management.

Morse, R & Buss, T. (2003). Innovation in public leadership development. M.E Sharpe, 2008.

Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership : theory and practice. SAGE Publication.

Sadler, P. (2003). Leadership . Kogan Page.

Spahr, P. (2014). What is Transactional Leadership? How Structure Leads to Results. 25 November 2014 . 22 April 2017. <>.

Velzen, J. (2015). «Introduction: Metacognitive Learning: Focus on General Knowledge of the Learning Process.» Metacognitive Learning.

Walumbwa, F & Wernsing, T. (2012). «From Transactional and transformational Leadership to Authentic Leadership.» Oxford Handbook Online.