Whereas political candidates in the US fight to gain the respect and credibility using themselves as personal examples of success based on core values; Europeans seem to be more concerned with solving practical problems of their citizens. Is there a different style of leadership style in Europe and US? This is the question I discussed with Victor Osorio, Expansion journalist. Here are three main differences:
1. Symbolic vs practical leadership
In the US., leaders represent the values of society and the company. The values of the team are embedded in their persona. The success of leaders is reflected in their prototypically representing the team. In contrast, European leaders are seen as problem-solvers –someone who identifies performance gaps and make decisions to solve problems. Whereas symbolic leadership is based on an emotional bond with the followers who personally identify with the leader; practical leadership is based on a rational and practical relationship.
2. Providing a light versus a hand
Leaders can provide a light that guides their followers to show the way or, instead, they can hold their hands to walk with them. American leaders give followers a light with a map – a set of values that serves as a guide. Once these values are internalized, employees can operate in a more autonomous manner. In contrast, European leaders tend to offer a helping hand to their followers who feel protected under the leaders ́ candor and directness. Although this leadership styles can be very effective because of its closeness, it creates more dependence on the leader.
3. Leading by biography versus data
Leading by biography is typically done by American leaders.Leaders use portions of their life story to connect with people. They like to tell courage and heroic tales, like the popular discourse of Steve Jobs. Instead, discretion is a more common practice among European leaders. This is consistent with a collectivistic culture in which personal success might create envy and break the social order.
In the end, all leaders must gain the respect and credibility from their followers, but there are key differences as to how they do it. Whereas American leaders tend to resort to personal values, a sense of direction and success; European leaders prefer to rely on problem-solving, direct management and rational logic.