Stepping into a high profile leadership role, especially in an unfamiliar culture, can be a discovery process that is as challenging as it is fascinating. What can European leaders earn from their Asian counterparts, and vice versa? In terms of attitude and practice, and especially given the recent explosion of remote working, how can leaders maximise the chances of success? We talk with Arkadiusz Czopor, Managing Director, Asia South, T-Systems.
1 – Remote Charisma
Executives who are good at transmitting their charisma in face-to-face interactions must be able to extend at least part of this charisma into remote interactions. Remote communication skills have become increasingly important during the Pandemic, and this importance will remain once the Pandemic has passed.
2 – A Win-Win Mentality
Asian business culture focusses less on competition and more on finding (and expressing) the win-win for all parties, including your own.
3 – The Power of Silence
Expect silence from Asian colleagues in your team meetings, at least in the short term. Be patient, build trust and respect, and give the opportunity to ask questions anonymously on paper ahead of the meeting. In meetings, learning to talk less and listen more brings greater business wisdom, and valuable insight into the Asian business mind.
Arkadiusz, what does the phrase ‘Asian business culture’ mean to you?
Here in Asia there are two dominant cultures, China and India. Two very large and strong cultures with thousands of years of heritage. Both are driven by a strong desire to grow and develop and create wealth, both individually and as a country. Not necessarily as we understand it, in an individualistic way, but having the prime objective of looking for a win-win situation for both parties involved in a deal.
Does that contrast sharply with Western business culture?
Western business culture is very much based on competition. We think about sport in terms of winning, and we don’t necessarily look around at what else is happening. You could say that in the West an individual perspective is more endorsed, whereas in Asia there is more of a community perspective and always an eye for a symbiotic success.
What is the result of the two cultures coming together?
If you are Western in Asia, you need to adjust yourself because the cultures are so strong here. Even if you enjoy pushing competitively, here you need to look more holistically. Especially with regard to customers, you must understand the potential benefits for them, and explain how you as the provider will benefit, so that the benefits on both sides are clearly understood. This is an important foundation for trust.
Is it true to say that business culture, no matter where you are, becomes culture-neutral at higher levels?
I still believe there is a big gap between Asian and Western business cultures. Both sides are still learning how to deal with each other. But at the senior executive level there is such global experience and wide understanding of the many different cultural contexts in which to do business, that business between these people is quite smooth.
Go here for the full interview (5 minute read)
A Polish national, Arkadiusz has over 20 years’ regional leadership experience in the Information and Communication Technology Industry. He has a proven track record of managing complex business portfolios, driving digitization and the transformation of multinational corporations, healthcare and public enterprises in cloud and digital computing. He is a Member of the Boards or Supervisory Boards in several T-Systems legal entities across the region.