Cross Cultural Training: Deliver Results in India

by Brandi Moore on June 15, 2010

What is power power distance

Power distance is the measurement of inequality in an organization. By understanding it is different across cultures where one culture has a high power distance and one has low power distance, cross-cultural managers can take a different approach to managing people and plans across their organization.


Here are some challenges that are directly related to power distance.


How does Power Distance Impact Employee Retention in India?

Problem: Power distance can impact employee retention if leadership styles put forward by American management are not inline with what India expects. 

Solution: Consider carefully when using leadership styles that work well in the US such as soliciting feedback from employees on your performance, asking employees “how would you do it” or other open ended invites for employees to take action without direction. When leading across cultures its very important to understand cultural differences and then adapt your own style to bridge them. The same leadership style in the US will fail in India.


How does Power Distance Impact Project Schedules?

Problem: In environments with high power distance, it is difficult to object to management opinions or impressions.  Therefore, it becomes very difficult to answer directly, especially when the information is negative.

Solution: Cross-cultural managers need a plan for interacting with India on schedules.  India must be closely looped into weekly or daily calls on progress.  Tools must be available to track progress in detail.  Processes must be developed for everyone on the project to interact in a way to decreases the impact of power distance.

How Does Power Distance impact Employee Action?

Problem: High power distance environments create problems for organizations that expect employees to take initiatives without direct orders from management.

Solution: If your organization seeks to create an environment where low power distance actions exist, carefully plan this from the start and embed it into the foundation of the culture. It should never be assumed that low power distance actions will come inside high power distance environments without assistance and guidance. Innovation is a good example of this.


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