Early in my career, during a job interview for a high-tech US company, an HR specialist defined “management ability” for me. In her opinion management was linked to decision-making power—a good manager was someone who had the capability to make (good) decisions. But if you’re like me, you’ll be thinking that it is far more than just that…
I now have many years experience managing and leading in Asia, with Asian staff, managers, vendors, and partners, all which has helped me to understand cultural differences and learn different approaches to leadership and power. Most importantly, this experience has allowed me to get clear on my own leadership style, which I now call Immanence Leadership.
My style is more much more than my capacity to make good decisions…it is unique, attached to my personality and enriched with my life experience. And that’s key, because consciously defining your style is not about adhering to conventional management standards and clichés. Instead, as Seth Godin says in his best-seller Tribes, it is about having “the courage to be a heretic!”
François Jullien is a French philosopher, sinologist and expert in cultural differences between China and the West. He makes a very interesting distinction between the Chinese thinking system, which he calls Immanence, and the Western one he calls Transcendence.
Let’s look at how change management can be very different across these two cultures…
|Immanence (Chinese influence)||Transcendence (Western influence)|
To simplify this, consider New Years, an event that marks a key change for both cultures…
|Chinese New Year||Western New Year|
I labelled my leadership style “Immanence Leadership” as I began to see how I was being inspired by these elements of Chinese philosophy. Let’s explore these a bit…
Immanence and Power
Across cultures, some leaders consider themselves powerful because they can demonstrate evident signs of achievement and success; others draw their sense of power from their deeper, inner values. In Asia there are also cultural particularities to consider.
Immanence Leadership as a style of leadership is therefore adapted to Asian power values, and well anchored in these principles, and there is much Western leaders can learn from it.
1. Make the decision to lead differently!
2. Stay connected…
Interpersonal connections are the engine of business. With Immanence Leadership, make connections to people, the context, the environment and the unknown (potentials).
3. Flex yourselves…
Flexibility and adaptability to the context, the situation, and personal differences are inherent in Immanence Leadership.
4. Get In Sync…
Synchronisation is a critical element to success in Immanence Leadership. Here are the keys…
I became a “leadership heretic” by being open to the power of immanence thinking and consciously adapting my style to reflect what I value in it. Doing this in your own way, based on a clear understanding of what you value, is what being a leadership heretic is all about. And this kind of leadership is rare.
Pascal Viaud is a seasoned manager, with years of extensive and practical leadership experience in Taiwan and the rest of Asia. He is the General Manager of e2v Taiwan, a Board Supervisor at the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ECCT) and Chairman of the Technology Committee. You can reach him at Pascal.Viaud@e2v.com.