These charts reveal how to lead people in 50 countries

Kathleen Elkins

Understanding them is key to international success, according to British linguist Richard Lewis, founder of consulting firm Richard Lewis Communications.

In Asian countries, for instance, leadership is portrayed as a circle, where consensus rule is valued and leaders are seen as benevolent.

In America (at least outside startup culture), leadership looks more pyramidal, with orders relayed from the top to the bottom and people at every level looking out for themselves.

To learn more about these fascinating cultural norms, Lewis gave us permission to publish the following leadership diagrams from "Cross-Cultural Communication: A Visual Approach," along with his commentary.

In Argentina, "nepotism is common, and staff are manipulated by a variety of persuasive methods ranging from paternalism to outright coercion."

Australian managers are much more effective when they "sit in the ring with the mates." They also exert more influence when they crack jokes, use cynicism, and curse.

In Austria, business leadership is autocratic. "Workers tend to show exaggerated respect to seniors and are uncomfortable with a system where their voices are rarely heard."

In Belarus, "leadership is of the old-fashioned autocratic kind, power distance is steadfastly maintained, consensus is rarely sought enthusiastically, and female leaders are rare."

Flemish Belgian "bosses are relaxed and low-key, and it is generally accepted that decision-making will be consensual." In Walloon Belgium, "all final decisions rest with the boss."

Brazilian managers "normally rule in an autocratic manner," but they often strive to be encouraging and cheerful with subordinates.

"In business, Canadian managers behave in a subdued manner in comparison with their American counterparts and are expected by their staff to be truthful, trusting, and egalitarian."

"Consensus is generally highly valued in China, but in companies controlled by the state, a leadership group will decide policy."

"Czechs resent power imposed from the outside and never accepted inequality imposed by foreign rulers. Egalitarianism and democratic institutions are instinctively desired."

"Though top managers can exert considerable pressure, Danes are skillful in maintaining a decidedly congenial atmosphere in discussion. Horizontal communication is widespread and generally successful."

In Egypt, "dictators, the Islamic church, and the military jostle for influence. Business leaders draw on great experience and try, not always successfully, to avoid politics."

"Estonians are very individualistic. Each person feels capable and prefers to lead rather than be led. Status is gained by achievement, decisiveness, and energy."

"Finnish managers have the reputation of being decisive at crunch time and do not hesitate to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff and help out in crises."

In France, authority is typically centered around the chief executive, and managers see themselves as valued leaders in society.

German managers strive to create a perfect system. "They work long hours, obey the rules ... and insist on fair play."

In Greece, "in the world of business, management is autocratic."

"A conspicuous absence of military victories and political triumphs has made Hungarians adopt a cynical attitude to any kind of leadership."

"Nepotism is rife in traditional Indian companies. Family members hold key positions and work in close unison."

Indonesian managers tend to be indifferent to the business process, resulting in leadership often being entrusted to a resident Chinese professional class.

"Spiritual leadership is dominant" in Iran. Government leaders "must be a fully qualified theologian, selected by experts."

"Since the establishment of democracy, Irish leaders have generally emerged as charismatic persons with an educated background. Those who have the ability to persuade and arbitrate are most likely to rise to the top."

"Lacking an aristocracy, Israeli society attaches importance to achievement and dynamism when looking for leadership."

"Italians are comfortable in a hierarchy skillfully led by persons of noble birth or from traditionally eminent or wealthy families."

In Japan, "ideas often originate on the factory floor or with other lower-level sources. Suggestions, ideas, and inventions make their way up the company hierarchy by a process of collecting signatures among workers and middle managers."

Korean "chaebols," or conglomerates, are typically family-owned. "Nepotism is rampant, with all sons, brothers, nephews, etc., holding key positions."

"Latvians are individualistic," and everyone wants to be a manager. "However, there is a tendency to respect firm, confident, knowledgeable leadership."

"The older generation of Lithuanian managers has not completely freed themselves of bureaucratic habits from Soviet times, but young leadership is developing a more dynamic style, with Nordic encouragement."

"The Mexican leader is a family man and a good Catholic; his shrewdness and skills in business are not allowed to intrude upon this basic goodness," and "his subordinates obey him without question."

"Leadership in the Netherlands is based on merit, competence, and achievement. Managers are vigorous and decisive, but consensus is mandatory, as there are many key players in the decision-making process."

"Most New Zealanders are brought up to respect authority, and managers have a relatively easy task as long as they function in a calm, egalitarian, and reasoning manner."

"In democratic Norway, the boss is very much in the center of things, and staff enjoy access to him or her most of the time."

Pakistani business leaders "function in a hierarchical style, but have to accept certain constraints imposed by the military, and increasingly, Islamic leaders."

Despite external pressures, the Polish retain many traditional romantic values. However, "meritocracy now dominates advancement in Polish society."

Portuguese "business leaders and many political figures come from the leading families," and "staff are generally obedient and deferential."

"Efforts made by managers to promote business through official channels only are likely to founder on the rocks of bureaucracy and Russian apathy. Using key people and personal alliances, the 'system' is often bypassed and a result achieved."

"Apart from questions of clan hierarchy, power distance is low and leadership is very democratic" in Scotland.

"In Serbia, the man in power can get away with a lot."

In Slovakia, "an autocratic style is favored over a consensual one. Few people are anxious to embrace responsibility."

Slovene leaders are "characterized more by pragmatism than idealism or rhetoric."

Spanish managers are autocratic and charismatic. "They work less from logic than from intuition, and pride themselves on their personal influence on all their staff members."

In Sub-Saharan African, "traditionally many societies were based on clans and lineages." However, clan and tribal influence is weakening due to economic changes.

Swedish management is decentralized and democratic. The rationale is that better-informed employees are more motivated and perform better. The drawback is that decisions can be delayed.

"There is a deep-rooted distrust of government in Switzerland, and the system of rule resembles the American in its intricate array of checks and balances."

In Thailand, "the King's power emanates from the people; he is Head of State and of the armed forces, and upholder of Buddhism and all other religions."

The first president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, "has emerged as the model Turkish leader — brave, firm, decisive, innovative, above all humane and commonsensical."

British managers "are diplomatic, tactful, laid back, casual, reasonable, helpful, willing to compromise, and seeking to be fair." However, they can be ruthless when necessary.

"The Ukrainian concept of leadership is derived from many widely differing styles in history." Leadership is characterized by "autocracy, political manipulation, tendency towards corruption, and its preference for males."

American managers are "assertive, aggressive, goal and action oriented, confident, vigorous, optimistic, and ready for change. They are capable of teamwork and corporate spirit, but they value individual freedom. Their first interest is furthering their own career."

Vietnamese leaders "must possess a good war record and adhere to socialist thinking." However, managers in the south are more Westernized.

"Music, choirs, and rugby are binding factors, and the relative smallness of many Welsh enterprises removes possible elements of pomposity or excessive charisma."

Now check out communication patterns from all over the world:

These Diagrams Reveal How To Do Business With People Around The World

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