People expect their leaders to behave in a certain manner due to their bestowed status. Cultural forces play a major role in outlining the performance of its leaders. Several countries embrace concept of leadership in all organizational and political aspects (Zelden, 2006). This implies that leadership is a definite function of cultural differences in the USA and France. In addition, countries differ in exercising leadership concepts. France, for instance has, distinctly varied views about their culture and leadership style. France embraces two major traits among its leaders; based on their charismatic and ability to build consensus while the USA embraces two traits from its leaders: those who delegate authority and grant autonomy (Williams, 2009). The paper also takes an insight about the various clashing leadership practices in the economic and political sectors. In addition, the paper highlights the French culture in the domain of values orientation and dimensions. Stereotypes align the destiny of a country and changes the way people view their leaders. The paper highlights practical clashes in the ethical consideration in France and the US. The success of a given country stems from the imminent culture and leadership styles.
1.2 Brief Overview of French Culture
In France, the leaders stream from their management schools such as the Grandes Ecole, which is one of the elite schools. The colleges are the champion of intellectual rigor amongst the able youths in the country. This leads to a highly educated group of leaders with extremely high academic precision. The society also values intellectualism amongst the leaders. The management in French constitutes the leadership which is assigned the intellectual task of mastering and analyzing the concepts and information in a rational manner (Hall, 2009). The society also practices other pragmatic issues such as motivation to its followers. Decisions are made at senior levels progressing to the lowly rated leaders for implementation (Zelden, 2006). This is seen as a directive approach by those in a non-hierarchical background and from a consensus orientation. These groups of people view the leadership system insufficient of the required team building elements and being authoritative. France has a high level of power distance as well as high uncertainty avoidance. The French society values a collective culture and is keen on upholding women issues.
1.3 Clashing Values, Attitudes and Behavior between and France and American Culture
1.3.1 Power Distance
Power distance is a virtue used to measure ‘inequality’ acceptance level in a given society. Basically, all societies’ experience ‘inequality’ but at varied levels, for instance: legal, social, political and material differences (Alder, 2008). Societies differ at the level at which they accept inequality. USA, for instance, has a lower power distance as compared to France. Government leaders with power tend to act above other human beings just like President Nixon who made attempts to circumvent the law to justify his unruly behavior (Crunden, 2008). When we compare this trait between the US and France, several insights are established. Jacques Rousseau differentiated between inequality on intelligence and force. Rousseau asserted that all men ought to be considered equal despite devoid of privileges and superiority among human beings (Hall, 2009). In France, leaders have taken the power distance advantage and are exploiting people at personal benefit. This clearly explains why France is not successful when compared to other countries like the USA.
1.3.2 Uncertainty Avoidance
This virtue helps define an attitude forged on the unknown. It is evident that some societies exhibit more anxiety in coping with uncertainty over others. Deresky (2006) opines that the USA manifests lower uncertainty avoidance while France has a higher score of uncertainty avoidance. This implies that fear of the unknown in France may elicit people to take on in actions that have uncertain outcomes. In contrast, low uncertainty people tend to be innovative, are risk takers and they are never hampered by uncertainties that hinder one’s progress (Boehnke, 2012). It is also a factor which hinders understanding of the French culture due to various contradictions in the French culture. Countries with high uncertainty avoidance, acknowledge that employs are supposed to obey their leaders without queries about their decisions and motives. However, France manifests a different channel as employees have the power to understand the operations of the organization and decline to follow an order blindly as opposed to the case in the USA. Employees in France can withhold compliance and decide that the leaders or the supervisor does not have the right to request a certain issue from the employee (Miroshnik, 2010).
1.4 French Culture using the Values Orientation Dimensions
Yukl (2006) acknowledges that collectivism measures the socialization gained by an individual as part of a given group. The society believes that their livelihood is alleged to a given group considering its members and seeking support from the group. Individuals offer their products to a group in a collectivistic culture while individuals usually stand apart from a given group in an individualistic culture (Zelden, 2006). France has a mild individualistic culture (Alder, 2008). This implies that France has a consolidated collectivistic culture. Ties are very loose among workers, children and parents and among individuals. France finds it hard to manifest and respect decisions made by a certain ‘group’ but it prefers independent relationships (Adler, 2008).
Femininity is a measure by which states pursue attributes linked with women such as; quality of life, social harmony and safeguarding relationships (Williams, 2009). Feminine societies are characterized to put more emphasis on such traits. Masculine societies on the other hand, adhere to manly behaviors like wealth accumulation, quality of life and they value work as opposed to embracing social pursuits. Individuals in a masculine culture gain fame by the extent to what they have while feminine culture defines individuals based on who they are and as intrinsic beings. France has a lower score in embracing masculinity but it has performed well in embracing femininity. France is ranked number six in the world economy due to its adherence to femininity virtues (Yukl, 2006). For France to prosper in its economy, it has to join the USA by setting aside the quality of life and love for harmony. In addition, individual liberties and freedom has caused France to deteriorate in economic growth.
1.5 Leadership Style to be used in France
Charisma invokes an attribution element on the subjects as they envy personal costs and sacrifices made by their leaders in accomplishing their vision. Charismatic leaders have an extraordinary influence on their subjects. Such leaders exhibit dominance, extraversion and self-confidence (Hall, 2009). Charismatic leaders use emotional appeals as opposed to authority when eliciting compliance from their followers. Charisma may be easily adaptable by the French culture as opposed to the US culture. French culture is not limited to adhering to authority despite having a collectivistic culture (Deresky, 2006). In addition, French does not change their ways due to external forces. However, French subjects may be easily influenced by a charismatic leader as they might feel that they respect and adhere to his objections freely. French followers like the fact that they are free subjects with right to act in an appealing manner. This implies that the congruence between followers and leaders’ vision can merge with the followers and leaders’ values (Hall, 2009). ‘France’ ‘therefore’ is an outstanding state with all these traits in congruence.
1.6 Role of Stereotypes
Stereotypes play a huge role in the management of a company and a state. In the US culture, the subjects have been acclimatized to the natural rule of the land. For a long time, the Americans have shown respect to leaders who delegate authority to the juniors and grant autonomy. The Americans have been subjected to the norm rule and show much respect to risk taking and confident leaders. This has been exemplified by leaders such as John Wayne (Hall, 2009). The adoption of masculinity in US has led to its huge growth in economy. Masculinity is associated with creation and accumulation of wealth as well as value addition in someone’s life. Stereotypes in the French culture have made Mitterand and De Gaulle national heroes (William, 2009). This is based on the perceived good leadership skills such ability to build consensus and charisma. The French economy has deteriorated due to believe in femininity which is associated with love for harmony and quality of life.
1.7 Practical Advice
The adoption of a single and universal leadership style is quite vital in all sectors of life such as the economic, social and cultural. Policy makers have the mandate to ensure that all individuals adhere to the national culture. Achieving the adoption of policy both at national and company level helps asses the ways in which subjects react towards decisions made. It is difficult for strict measures to be adhered to in the US both at national and organization level. This is due to the pragmatic approach adopted in the analysis of varied situations (Adler, 2008). On the other hand, French tend to adopt philosophy in most of the decisions as well as protesting both at national and organization level. The French believe in liberty, equality and freedom. Knowledge about the importance of adopting a universal leadership style helps policy makers in transcribing other modes in devising policies.
1.8 Possible Clashes
Adoption of a universal leadership style may also help in the economic ‘sector’ especially the relationship between the employees and the boss. Adoption of a transformational system may sometimes be misleading a country like France may require tactics of more than just a transformational leader to convince the subjects accept his or her decisions (William, 2009). A company based in the US may find it hard to cope with French culture as the company may face several ‘riots’ however, a company acting in unison with the anticipations of the subjects’ values and vision will prosper. More so, understanding culture and leadership helps people with diverse culture such as American adopting French standards to cope and ignore differences between cultural values (Hall, 2009).
This paper has theoretically analysed the French culture in terms of the leadership style and culture. The study has also concluded that leadership emerges from influence. In the US, for ‘instance’ leaders propose the decisions that followers must adhere to for the country to achieve the set goals. Decision are made and at times not followed in the French culture as the followers claim that every decision must be in compliance with equality and freedom (Adler, 2008). France is therefore one of the states that ought to redefine its leadership style. The varied cultures in the two countries have forced one group to set up conditions to help express its freedom towards what is considered good as the other group has pursued what is aligned towards the perceptions of the individual. Thus, France and the USA have two varied national leadership and cultural traits.
Adler, N. (2008). International dimensions of organizational behavior, fifth edition. New York, NY: Thomson Learning.
Boehnke, K. (2012). Transformational leadership: an examination of cross-national differences and similarities. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24(1), 5-15.
Crunden, R. M. (2008). A brief history of American culture. New York: Paragon House.
Deresky, H. (2006). International management: Managing across borders and cultures. (5th ed.). NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Hall, E. T. (2009). Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday.
Miroshnik, V. (2010). Culture and international management: A review. Journal of Management Development, 21(7), 521-544.
Williams, S. D. (2009). Personality, attitude, and leader influences on divergent thinking and creativity in organizations. European Journal of Innovation Management, 7(3), 187-204.
Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Zelden, T. (2006). The French. London: Harvill, Harper Collins.
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