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Curious why the servant leadership style didn't work for you and why you think that is because this is the approach I prefer as well but I'm young in my career.



It doesn't work in Asia because of cultural reasons.

Independent thinking and enabling others is a very American way of thinking. People don't realize how much culture is derived off of core principles within major founding documents (declaration of independence, constitution).

In Asia, Confucian philosophy dominates the cultural landscape in terms of what values they have. One of the big principles of it is how to maintain order in society. A "perfectly ordered" society is one where the hierarchy is maintained and everyone functions in their proper place.

If it sounds like dystopia to you I'd encourage you to read more about it to understand what about it makes sense and what tradeoffs you get from a society like that.

Long story short, your leadership style needs to fit the people you're leading, not yourself. You can be the best servant leader but if everyone wants to be your servant, you're going to have a bad time.


This mirrors my experience in the MENA region (where a lot of staff are from asian cultures). It's hard to encourage people to work independently when they're coming from a "do what you're told" culture.


This, exactly. It was a huge surprise to find that asian people do not think of themselves as equals. Incidentally this is also one of the reasons democracy is struggling here, in my opinion.


Don't think it is an equality thing.

If I were to distill it into one central theme, it would be centered on how each culture views and values conflict.

The principles of the US has themes of "cooperation by conflict". Voting is the entire population fighting each other in a controlled setting. The 3 body system of checks and balances uses conflict as the central mean to prevent power accumulation.

Rationalism is the underlying reason for this acceptance of conflict. A dictionary definition: "Rationalism is the practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response."

From an emotional perspective, conflict is seen as detrimental, tearing down relationships, creating unresolvable discord and enmity, and the possibility to lose control over territory, position and power. However, from a rational perspective, conflict is positive. It puts the most logical, structural, or prevailing idea to the top.

The American revolutionists had gone through a lot. The history of western Europe was one where your lives were in the hands of emotional kings who could reward you one day and behead you the next without rhyme or reason. They were under the excessive, unchecked power of Britain, exhibited time and again through taxation without representation. They saw how much control the Bank of England had over the commonwealth. It was a time of rampant monopolies, major powers that had consolidated all control, and where conflict was an affront to power.

Because of all this, they baked conflict into the system.


As a narrative about how the US works, that's a great story.

As an east vs west philosophy debate, it completely fails to recognise that European cultures have also "baked conflict into the system".

It also fails to recognise that SE Asian cultures were also colonised by European powers.

A better explanation is that the American values were straight-up inherited from European ones because America (and Australia similarly) was wiped clean of indigenous culture during colonisation, while SE Asian countries were not. Better because it explains why all "western" cultures share these values, and why SE Asian cultures do not.


not sure how Europe got in this, was comparing American values versus Asian values. Conflict is the center of attention in American values (you could say western values, I don't know enough about modern European sentiment to say that). Conflict is indirect in Asian values.

Do you mean that American values aren't so anti-European that I depicted, or rather are derived from European values? I think I allude to it with rationalism, which originates from Europe. The history of European civilization is the foundation and backdrop for American ideals.

As much as America has tried to lay a foundation for a better western civilization, I think a mature modern America still has the problems that they were running away from in 18th century Europe - power eventually gets consolidated and individualism is compromised despite the checks and balances against it.


This: "The American revolutionists had gone through a lot. The history of western Europe was one where your lives were in the hands of emotional kings who could reward you one day and behead you the next without rhyme or reason. They were under the excessive, unchecked power of Britain, exhibited time and again through taxation without representation. They saw how much control the Bank of England had over the commonwealth. It was a time of rampant monopolies, major powers that had consolidated all control, and where conflict was an affront to power."

this ignores the fact that Britain has also "baked conflict into the system", and that Britain shares an idealogical framework with Europe, that America inherited, but SE Asia did not.


Because he was in southeast asia where people expect authority?




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