Monday, September 16, 2013

Leadership- Projecting Warmth....the socio-cultural perspective

The July/Aug 2013 Harvard Business Review lead article "Connect, Then Lead" focuses on the role of "warmth" in leadership.

They then talk about various ways of "projecting" warmth including body language cues.

My feedback to the authors on this Interesting article was " What I found missing was a juxtaposition with the socio-cultural context. In some cultures a firm handshake is a sign of confidence while in others it may be perceived as rudeness. Similarly maintaining eye contact may be a sign of straightforwardness and honesty in some cultures while it may be a sign of disrespect in others.

The over-generalization of body language cues as indicators of warmth vs. confidence can lead to disastrous consequences unless they are overlaid with the socio-cultural context. Also, these over-generalizations can help perpetuate stereotypes which can result in sub-optimal decision-making (e.g. people prefering tall people over short for elected positions in the US because of the perceived projection of strength and confidence)."

An abridged version of my observations alongwith the authors' response has been  published in the October 2013 print issue of the Harvard Business Review. 

HBR October 2013 Page 20

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