Next Generation Business Problems: Leadership

The next generation of business challenges have leadership as a common thread, says Professor Anne Lytle. Leadership that works well for a local organisation will fail in diverse businesses that stretch across the globe.

“More than ever, leaders must influence and lead individuals, teams and organizations across borders and time zones with multiple values, perspectives and ways of thinking,” Lytle says.

Professor Lytle has seen how this can create extraordinary difficulties in her work with a large Australian financial institution.  

“The leaders of that institution insisted their values were the same around the world. But the manifestation of those values varies in different cultures. “

An offshore team based in India followed instructions from Australian Head Office to the letter, even when it led to worse outcomes.

“For them, that approach was being collaborative, being respectful, having integrity. But the way those values are manifested in the Australian context is different. How do I show you respect? I show you respect by saving you before you make a mistake. I have integrity by calling it out when there is something wrong.”

The solution in the case of the large financial institution was to physically bring the teams together in one location.

Lytle says “That is expensive. A lot of leaders say it is too costly, and that technology should prevent the necessity for that. Technology can prevent that expenditure later on, but bringing it down to zero from the start is a risk.”

Diversity is not limited to companies that span the globe. Even the smallest organisations are now likely to draw on employees with different cultural backgrounds, different ages and different expectations.

“Businesses are going to have to manage people aged from twenty to eighty years. And we have more -  and more diverse - cultures within Australian society and, therefore, within the workforce. Leaders must understand everyone.” Professor Lytle says.

Leadership and personal development is a cornerstone of the Monash MBA program. Leadership is studied and practised in each of the four modules of the program. This commitment to leadership enables Monash MBA students to develop the critical executive capabilities and personal style to lead tomorrow’s organisations.