Why The ‘China Dream’ Doesn’t Challenge US Global Leadership
The ‘China Dream’ is a vision for China itself, not a blueprint for overthrowing the US-led global system.Advertisement
With continuing strategic insecurities and distrust between China and the U.S., Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” has been described by a number of Western analysts (including here at The Diplomat) as China’s plan to challenge U.S. Primacy in and across the Asia-Pacific region.
This is an issue that requires more discussion. First of all, what is the “China Dream?” The “China Dream” does not imply that the Chinese are trying to sell a universal political or ideological product to the world. Rather, it refers to Chinese people’s exploration of their own developmental model and their longing for a “great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation. This will be a very long process, especially without any historical precedents. As Eric X. Li put it in his TED talk, “The significance of China’s example is not that it provides an alternative, but the demonstration that alternatives exist.” China is not attempting to force other countries to follow its unique developmental model.
Therefore, China will not, and does not have to, directly challenge the still prevailing U.S.-led system. The current system has its flaws, but China’s own model is still being explored and can hardly be regarded as a prototype. A more practical and reasonable assessment would acknowledge the uncertainties of China’s developmental model (and thus the “China Dream”) in view of some of the critical issues China faces: wide-spread corruption, structural economic problems, environmental issues, social unrest, ethnic tensions, and territorial disputes with neighboring countries.
Faced with these challenges, China does not want to take the risk of trying to establish itself as a global leader. Unrestrained adventurism would be unwise and irrational, and thus will not be on Chinese leaders’ agenda. “Seeking common ground while shelving differences” and “peaceful coexistence” are still consensually acknowledged and upheld as China’s diplomatic principles. In general, the policies and measures adopted by Beijing been moderate compared to those used by previously ascending great powers in history, unless China finds its “core interests” being substantively threatened.Diplomat Brief Weekly Newsletter
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When looking at China’s policies, we should use a broader historical context and a more comprehensive analytical perspective. We should regard China as a participant in the international community that has been trying both to further integrate into the international system and also to take a more active role within that system.
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First, particularly since China initiated its historic reform in the late 1970s, China has been participating in rather than challenging or undermining the contemporary international system. For example, China truly values its membership in the UN, WTO, IMF, and many more existing international bodies.
Second, China focuses on reforming the dysfunctional aspects of the contemporary international system instead of directly challenging or even seeking to abolish the whole system. China wants to provide more input into the rule-making processes, not to overturn the rules.
Third, with respect to its relationship with the still dominant U.S., China suggested the construction of “new type of great power relations” on the basis of “non-alignment,” “non-interference,” and “peaceful co-existence.” This diplomatic formula exactly proves that China has been trying to avoid directly challenging U.S. Supremacy in and across the region.Advertisement
Four, when it comes to China’s relations with neighboring countries, China has especially emphasized “common destiny” and “common interests,” which shows that China emphasizes (and indeed needs) co-existence rather than confrontation and conflict.
Overall, the “China Dream” is not obviously and substantially aggressive. Instead, China clearly acknowledges that its “core interests” can hardly be secured without a peaceful environment. The seemingly assertive Chinese policies and behaviors quite often are reactions to either unilateral changes by other states or the voice of public opinion. Such reactions should not be deemed as military adventurism aimed overthrowing the U.S.-led global order.
Global Leadership 102: Application Of Cultural Intelligence
In my latest article, “Global Leadership 101,” I demonstrated why leadership, as a study, has yet to reach a consensus on a concise definition, despite many disciplines weighing in. Even though there are varying perspectives on what makes a “true leader,” most agree it is more about how the leader influences their followers, rather than a step-by-step process they implement. There is no foolproof approach to leadership. In the modern world, that’s a good thing, because a cookie-cutter guide of how to embody successful global leadership would never work.
However, there are key components to master that equip the leader, especially operating among diverse cultures. In this second article, I am going to move forward from defining global leadership and explain the practical application of the top trait necessary: cultural intelligence. Sometimes when delving into complex subject areas, it helps to look to experts in the area for answers. For example, in my doctoral studies, when I don’t have an answer, I reach out to my professors. And in my CPA firm, when my team doesn’t know the answer, they reach out to their project manager or me. If you don’t readily have access to a mentor, you could picture the most influential leader you’ve heard about or known.
Few leaders throughout time have stood out among the crowd, even during the past few decades where leadership has become such a hot topic. But for me, one leader in particular embodied global leadership, the traits necessary for his followership to grow exponentially over two millennia: Jesus Christ. There is abundant research that gives insight into why. In a Forbes interview, expert Fr. James Marti explains, “There is [a] lesson here for those in the business world: his entire being proclaimed his values.” Marti indicates that excellent communication across cultures was key to Jesus’ messages. His empathy and accessibility as a leader were his top two values that he showed in his interactions with his followers.
To try to bridge the gap between Jesus and current-day leaders, I have to say it is troublesome to consider someone a leader until their complete character has been examined. That’s typically after they’ve died. The current list of the world’s most powerful people can be shocking depending on your view of those included on it. And on a national level, it can be uncomfortable to support a politician when the trustworthiness and consistency of so many of them waver daily. Gaining trust is simple yet extremely complex: Do what you say you are going to do, or ’fess up if you don’t.
One of my professors shared a couple of leaders who have exemplified true leadership for him. One of these was former Regent University President Dr. David Gyerston, whose publications I’ve found captivating, such as this article in Outcomes about how practicing servant leadership can help leaders during challenging times. Another was retired Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark, who said, “Credibility is the foundation of leadership.” My professor doesn’t think there is a gap between academia and business, but a lack of practice of what’s important, such as emotional intelligence and positive organizational behaviors.
So how can someone like you or me get their feet wet with cultural intelligence? In an ideal world, we would physically immerse ourselves in the foreign culture we want to understand, but that is not practical with over 5,000 cultures in existence.
I see the role of a chief culture officer (CCO) becoming vital to any international organization thriving and remaining sustainable. Having a leader who is familiar with multiple cultures at an intimate level — not just language interpretation in itself, but more so nonverbal context — is going to be crucial. Cultures are all on a spectrum of a term called “context.” For perspective, the U.S. And Germany are low-context cultures, where we generally say what we mean, in comparison to very high-context cultures like those in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, using factors like closeness of the relationship or social hierarchy to interpret meaning.
Using context as a baseline, you can predict where disconnect may occur across cultures. There is extensive training being developed on this issue, and only time will tell if is effective, but for a leader who loves life hacks (or can’t afford a CCO), there are sites that can provide a culture cheat sheet to help you, such as this graph of the context continuum.
Another extremely valuable online resource is the Cultural Atlas, an Australian initiative. You can even read about communication and business culture styles of Americans there, but more importantly, the website summarizes common nuances arising between cultures. I wish I would have had this when I was working in Germany. There, our team included employees from the U.S., Germany and India. I felt quite at home with the directness and promptness of Germany’s low-context culture. India, as a high-context culture, is quite different. For example, when working with Indians in the accounting and IT industries, leaders complained of being told yes when the person might mean no. This is an ingrained part of Indian culture. Saying yes is an acknowledgment of respect, and not necessarily an agreement. Therefore, the key to global leadership lies in the geographical/ethnical cultural intelligence of the leader, as shown in the figure found on page 509 outlining the “components of global business leadership success.”
Similar to leadership in general, successful global leadership is all about people and their ability to positively influence followers of any culture. So much more can be unpacked about emotional intelligence and motivation. Time recommends starting with a shared belief, envisioning that story, and emphasizing progress and unity. It sounds simple, but again, it’s difficult to be consistent with. As much as I’d prefer to remove the emotional aspect of leadership, the research concludes it’s a necessary part of human nature. I hope this helps you feel more empowered to conquer the world.
The Changing Face Of Leadership: 10 New Research Findings All Leaders Need To Understand
Part of the series “Today’s True Leadership”
Diversity and collaboration in leadership are needed todayPhoto: iStock
One of the questions I hear frequently from emerging and current leaders is this: “How has leadership changed from 10 years ago and what do I need to understand about running a successful enterprise that I don’t know today?
A recent study attempts to address this question in a fuller way than ever before. Jointly published by DDI, The Conference Board, and EY, the Global Leadership Forecast 2018 is one of the most expansive leadership research projects ever conducted. Integrating data from more than 28,000 leaders and HR professionals at 2,488 organizations around the world, the report offers insight into the state of global leadership and provides evidence-based recommendations for organizations to change their people strategies to meet upcoming challenges.
Evan Sinar, Ph.D., Chief Scientist and Vice President at DDI, leads the company’s global research on leadership and people strategies, and shares with us below the key findings from this latest study. DDI is a global leadership company that helps organizations transform the way they hire, promote, and develop leaders at every level.
Here’s what Dr. Sinar shares on the key findings about leadership today:
Kathy Caprino: From this study, what are you seeing as the ways in which leadership overall has changed in the past 10 years?
Evan Sinar: The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 is the eighth edition of the study, which we’ve published every few years going back to 1999. As a general trend, we’ve seen a continued slippage in leadership bench strength (ready-now leaders who can step in to replace those who retire or move on) – in 2018, only 14% of companies have a strong bench, the lowest number we’ve ever seen. More specifically, we’ve seen digital transformation and the constant threat of disruption having a profound impact on leadership at every level.
While not every leader needs to be a technical expert, leaders do need to be able to understand the impact of digital tech on their business and more importantly, predict the impact of technology in the future. They also need to be highly adaptable, hyper-collaborative, and able to leverage data to make better decisions. And
Caprino: What are the 10 most critical findings of this study?
Sinar: In brief, here were 10 of the most important data points that came out of the study:
#1: CEO concerns about talent
CEOs are incredibly worried about the leaders they’ll need to drive enterprise success. Only 14% of CEOs say they have the talent they need to execute their business strategies.
#2: Need for digital leadership skill
Digital leadership skills are becoming increasingly critical. Companies who have the most digitally-capable leaders financially outperform the average by 50%.
#3: Why gender diversity improves profitability
The value of gender diversity continues to be proven.
#4: Develop leadership potential earlier
Organizations need to take a broader view of what it means to have “leadership potential,” and start developing leadership potential earlier in careers. Organizations that extend development of high-potential talent below senior levels are 4.2 times more likely to financially outperform those that don’t.
#5: Value Gen X more
Most companies are overlooking the value of Gen X. As the first generation to grow up with video games, they are nearly as digitally savvy as millennials, but also excel in more conventional leadership skills associated with Baby Boomers, such as building talent and driving execution.
#6: Tech leaders are failing
Four out of ten tech leaders are failing, which is the highest leadership failure rate of any industry. The high failure rate is likely due to the fact that the industry puts little effort into developing its leaders. In fact, 32 percent of tech leaders reported that they never meet with their manager to have performance discussions.
#7: Senior leaders need greater alignment
Leadership is being redefined as a team sport. As companies increasingly rely on teams, we found three areas where it’s critical for senior leaders to be aligned: energy and development passion, future-focused leader skills, and views on company culture. A lack of alignment in these three areas quickly derails a senior team.
#8: HR needs developed skill in “people analytics”
Using data to make decisions about people—known as “people analytics”—is becoming an incredibly important skill for HR. However, only 18% of organizations are managing to implement advanced people analytics.
#9: The 3 cultural shifts needed most
Organizations need to focus on three cultural factors to improve their leaders’ ability to respond to disruption:Inform decisions through data and analyticsIntegrate multiple and diverse perspectives to drive changeEmbrace failure in pursuit of innovation
#10: Do-it-yourself leadership growth doesn’t cut it
Too many organizations are taking a “do it yourself” approach to leadership development, which usually begins and ends with giving leaders access to a generic self-study resources. But what leaders really want is a personalized experience and the opportunity to learn from internal and external mentors and their fellow-leaders.
Caprino: What finding was the biggest surprise and the most controversial (going against what many believe about leadership success today)?
Sinar: One of the most controversial subjects we studied is the impact of performance ratings. Many people dread the annual performance review discussion, which are often focused on ratings. We found that when performance ratings were eliminated, there was a small boost in effectiveness. However, eliminating performance ratings was tied to a sizeable increase in leader quality and bench strength, and also led to more gender diversity in leadership.
It’s somewhat surprising, because eliminating ratings seems to go against the wisdom of making data-driven decisions. But what’s important is not the ratings themselves, but the fact that many organizations replaced ratings with a conversation focused on future development and growth. So regardless of whether you eliminate ratings, leaders should be having more conversations about development.
Caprino: Tell us more about the findings regarding the impact of women in leadership?
Sinar: As we have found in the past, our research showed that having more women in leadership is linked to better financial performance. Organizations that fill at least 20% of senior leadership roles with women and have at least 30% women overall are 1.4 times more likely to experience sustained, profitable growth.
Furthermore, the data showed about why having more women leads to better profitability. It’s not because women necessarily have superior skills. Instead, the key is that the organizations have built inclusive cultures that enable everyone to thrive. Organizations with greater gender diversity reported higher levels of collaboration, higher quality leadership, greater agility, and more likely to experiment in pursuit of innovative approaches.
Caprino: What about the decline in reputation of HR and the changes needed within that field?
Sinar: The biggest reason HR’s reputation is worsening is that HR professionals are struggling to keep up with digital transformation. HR leaders lagged far behind leaders in every other functional area on skills that are key in a digital environment, such as using data to guide decisions and anticipating high-speed change.
Conversely, those HR professionals who are succeeding at applying analytics to their jobs are bringing a lot of value to their employers, and are 6.3 times more likely to report having new advancement opportunities.
The lesson is clear for HR: Gain digital and analytics skills now to boost your own career and be seen as a more strategic and valuable business partner in your organization.
Caprino: According to the study, the impact of mentorship on success for employees and leaders has been significant – what do we need to know about that?
Sinar: Organizations that have a formal mentoring culture have 20% lower turnover, 46% higher leader quality, and can immediately fill 23% more roles immediately. Formal mentoring programs were also associated with greater financial success. They also enable organizations to capture significantly more of their vital knowledge before it gets lost as senior employees retire or leave the organization, a major and growing problem for many companies.
Despite the benefits, only about a third of organizations offer formal mentoring. In fact, six in 10 leaders say they’ve never had a mentor, and a third of senior leaders say they’ve never mentored anyone. The good news, however, is that mentoring is growing among Millennials, with nearly 50% saying they’ve had a mentor. Interestingly, Gen X seems to particularly crave mentorship from outside their organization, which they aren’t getting enough of.
Caprino: What is the impact of having a purpose-driven culture on the success of the organization?
Sinar: In today’s disruptive business environment, people need purpose to drive their work and focus more than ever. In fact, our partner organization EY found in a 2017 study that 96% of leaders said that purpose was important to their job satisfaction. In the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, we found that organizations that operated without a purpose-driven culture, or even a purpose statement, financially underperformed the average by 42%.
In organizations that at least have a purpose statement, twice as many leaders say they get meaning from work, and their energy levels are 60% higher. In truly purpose-driven cultures beyond simply having a statement, leaders weave purpose into the fabric of work.These companies financially outperform the market average by 42%, and a strong culture build on trust, loyalty, and a sense of working toward a common goal.
Caprino: What should every leader and emerging leader take away from this study that will help them succeed at a higher level?
Sinar: No matter what business function you work in, leaders today need to understand the impact of technology on their business. You don’t have to be a technical expert, but you do need to be able to predict both opportunities and potential negative effects of technology.
Part of being a great leader in the digital era also depends on developing other leaders. Success in today’s world depends on how leaders perform as a team. The unpredictable and rapidly changing business landscape means you need to have people with a variety of skillsets and mindsets who can quickly step in to show leadership in response to a variety of challenges. It’s become more important than ever that part of your job as a leader is to be a talent scout and a mentor who develops other leaders.
For more information, visit www.Ddiworld.Com/glf2018.
To expand your leadership capability and career success, join Kathy Caprino’s Amazing Career Project online course, and tune into her Finding Brave podcast.