Culture and Leadership | Joseph Trimble | TEDxWWU

Culture and Leadership | Joseph Trimble | TEDxWWU



good afternoon lovely scene let me start off with this I wanted to say this for a long time so I'm going to say bid farewell to the alpha male leadership style and then the now wait a minute these are alpha males but they're not humans and they all act in pretty much the same way now what I'm talking about an alpha male human leader some of them kind of act like this you know they sit at the head of a long rectangular table the big fat tie and a belly that left overlaps their belt and and they will raise their eyebrows pound the table bare their teeth and roar until they get their way and they always do so what one in your imagination does a human alpha male leader look like well put that image right there and we've done a lot of research on leadership characteristics and of course we looked at the alpha male and these are just a few of their characteristics they're bold domineering achievement focused competitive decisive aggressive critical self centered yeah they can be creative but they're just going to give you some idea of their particular leadership style no no why would I be suggesting that we bid farewell to this style I know this is a cliche but the world is changing it's getting smaller thanks to the internet thanks to tourism thanks to the media thanks to immigration look at this audience how many people of different colors are sitting in this audience from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds many of whom speak two or three languages many of whom in this audience practice different traditions customs ceremonies and rituals all you have to do is go to a bus station train station an airport terminal a shopping mall or walk down a busy street and you'll see people of all colors speaking different languages wearing different clothing interacting with one another in very culturally stylistic ways and this is happening more and more and more and then if you happen to be in the big shopping mall you'll see all these restaurants from countries that we never knew existed serving food that really smells good well if that's changing then you probably suspect that people from different cultural backgrounds also follow people who lead differently from one another so let me give you an example is Diane the Diane grew up in a small Alaska native tribal village loving family loving community steeped in two traditions of the tribe that could back for centuries early on as a child it became readily apparent to her parents and the elders in the village that Diane was special she had a gift she was going somewhere she was going to make a mark she graduated high school very quickly then college very quickly then graduate school very quickly and got into the research world got research grants published article after article conducted research in her labs that were producing some phenomenal findings she belonged to a very large organization they noticed her the Board of Trustees were talking one day and they said you know maybe it's time we change who is the president of organization because in the past we have always had men so they started talking about Diane and they agreed to approach her and they did and Diane was a little taken aback she was flattered honored but she told them no I can't accept your offer thank you but I'm not ready well they were disappointed and and some of them being all of them being males they said well let's try another strategy so they did and they returned to visit with Diane a couple of weeks later and put out the same proposal again Diane listen carefully attentively and this time she said give me some time I need to go back to my village in Alaska and talk with my family to talk with the elders to talk with the spiritual people to get some advice and she did she came back and she called a meeting of the Board of Trustees and they showed up and she told them that she would accept their offer they were elated not soon thereafter Diane started talking with people the custodians the clerical staff the lab technicians the salespeople who came by to sell equipment the junior researchers the senior level researchers the academics in their field that were part of the organization and all the while that she was talking with each one of these almost on an individual basis she also made another decision she decided to remodel the meeting room she got rid of that long rectangular table you know with the chairs around and she put it around one and then around the large round table she put smaller round tables with chairs around them so that when people came in for meeting they had to face each other there was no one who stood out happens when you have a rectangular table but there were some of the members of the board who were a little uneasy things weren't happening quickly enough had projects to complete goals to meet proposals to write so they approached her at least a few did and said you know you're taking too much time we need to see some things happening and she said please be patient she looked at him and said look you asked me to be the president of this organization and I only know one leadership style and that's a leadership style that I was introduced to as a child in my small village in Alaska and that leadership style lasted and lasts and lasted for thousands of years and I'm using that style and you know what it seems to be working so be patient and they were and indeed it did work they achieved all their goals they got all the proposals written and approved but more than anything else the level of enthusiasm ratcheted up people were excited they looked forward to staying late in the laboratory and experimenting with XY and Z and talking with another one another and collaborating with one another this organ endeavors organization never saw anything like it that's what one culturally unique leadership style can do when given the opportunity let me take a few moments to introduce you to three of a lot of different culturally unique culturally specific leadership styles this the Taoist model obviously it's Asian or Chinese in origin and essentially in the roughly translated mean on action or action lessness the leader actually encourages every want to participate everyone that leader also is very altruistic modest adaptable flexible clear transparent soft but strong kind of like bamboo strong but flexible multiple uses another metaphor might be a Davos leaders like water you pour it into any kind of vessel and it takes the shape in the form of that vessel that's the Taoist leader next we have the silent or individual or indivisible leader this person really really believes that everything and everyone is connected to everything else and they value that but in addition to valuing that connectedness that exists between people they take the time to listen to everybody and it could take a long time they tend to push from behind they're not out in front though they're behind and and and and they often reluctant to assume a leadership role they don't grow up saying I'm going to be the leader of this organization or this company or this community no that's not in their thought at all and so somebody comes up and says we think you might be the ideal person what's interesting about the individual or individual indivisible leader is that he/she takes a great deal of pride in seeing the people experience the joy of achieving success that they're the ones not he or she who may be that silent leader it is the joy that people are feeling and expressing about their successes finally for now anyway we have the benevolent paternalistic mystic leader this isn't a gala terian tie style of leadership the leader sees he sees immune community as a large extended family everyone's related they will seek out skills they will know the skills of everybody in the organization in the community and in the group and make sure that those skills are put to use to the betterment of the goals missions of the organization of the community itself they value consensus building nope we're not going to do anything until everybody agrees they tend to be elders so there are three distinct but somewhat overlapping culturally unique leadership styles all of which by way go back for thousands of years they all work my colleague Jean Welch in and I have been working in this area of leadership for a number of years and a few years ago she started identifying all the characteristics of leaders that appeared in print and and also interviewed lots of people from lots of different cultures how would you describe leaders in your culture says she compiled a long list and then she gave me the list and so I sat down with a group of students and we started to add to the list but we decided the list was too long so what we did was we started to sort these characteristics into different piles and we also use a statistical algorithm or a program to to help us identify similar content we came up with the six so leaders can be constructive leaders can be imaginative leaders can be principled leaders can be synergistic leaders can be virtuous then what we did was or I should say what change it was she asked 100 ethnic minority male and feel female leaders in this country to take a look at these lists and they said and she asked them she's look which of these do you find to be most important which of these lists of 63 characteristics best describe your style majority said adaptability integrity authentic honest communicator then she said which are the least important and what they rejected was that guy that you put in the photo on the second slide aggressive conflict inducer dominate self-centered status conscious they rejected those so then one of my students and I last fall here at Western I took those 63 characteristics and we administered them to little over 100 undergraduate students most of whom were or are of your American background did the same thing those were the leadership characteristics that age young people said were most important to them and those were the ones that were least important to them so you can see why I can say with confidence adios to the alpha male human leader now this brings up three questions who are you willing to follow what kind of leader are you going to be and what could we have if we welcome different leadership styles what could be half now this a lovely graphic and it actually is a graphic that gene al chin and I chose to be on the cover of our book titled diversity in leadership it's been expanded by friend of ours and you can see that it's origami birds of different colors and they're all converging to this place call this mother earth call this our place and notice that as these birds fly to this place they still keep their same colors so metaphorically they're keeping their values they're keeping their traditions they're keeping their customs or keeping their life ways or keeping their thought ways and they're still interacting with one another so in a place like this what we're seeing is culture and diversity being valued being appreciated we're also seeing or imagining that people follow different leaders and people lead differently and those aisles are embraced but also what we see is no ceiling that everyone who converges on to this place that we call Mother Earth it's an opportunity to realize their gems to succeed in their chosen professions but the most important thing about this image is that it's teeming with respect thank you for your attention thank you for your presence you

18 thoughts on “Culture and Leadership | Joseph Trimble | TEDxWWU

  1. Bruce lee stated be like water. There are multiple leadership styles and numerous types of personalities, people learn differently and are motivated as well as driven for more than 1 reason. 1 type of leader would not be as effective leading an opposite follower….. Adaptation ensures success

  2. 1st, we don't know the constraints of the situation in the story he tells. 2nd, if the shape of a table is the excuse one uses to say leadership is effective or ineffective is quite ridiculous. 3rd, just because someone has a prominent seat at a table does not confer dominance as an alpha male. One can only claim this title in the midst of the action. 4th, alpha's can be female. 5th, the behavior described during the intro is not correct. Those actions if used in a situation of life and death would most certainly yield a negative outcome.

  3. Both figuratively and literally diversity in leadership results in the most success. Earth itself is biodiverse and therefore more capable of beautifully incredible and diverse existence, let us take notes!

  4. Unfortunately all of these adaptable, honest, authentic people get pushed aside by egotistical bullies whom then become our leaders!!! We need to start a whole new egalitarian social philosophy style of governing that will run parallel and then watch as the old system crumbles. This is already happening.

  5. From my perspectives and view,
    Relationship is important for a leader to function well in a diverse culture,ways of thinking and diverse backgrounds of education.

  6. Being an “alpha” isn’t about being the strongest power holder or being domineering – it is about being the best at what the team values.

    You are dominant because you are the best
    You are dominant because you create most value
    You are dominant because people follow you
     – because it is in their best interest to
    do so

    If you are not an alpha you are not a leader

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