Purpose – This paper seeks to examine whether cultural context facilitates the emergence of different leadership styles. The key objective of the paper is to consider whether leadership styles are culturally-linked and/or culturally-biased. Design/methodology/approach – A multifactor leadership questionnaire was utilised to measure differences in leadership styles and to offer explanations as to why the “one size fits all” view is not appropriate. Analysis of variance and t-tests were utilised to compare means for more than two managerial groups. Findings – The analysis found significant differences between leadership styles and cultural groups, hence, supporting the argument that culture and leadership interact in different ways in diverse contexts. Transactional leadership was found to be strongly aligned with the ratings of managers from Malaysia, and transformational leadership scales correlated with the Australian respondents’ mean ratings. Practical implications – Variations in leadership styles are due to cultural influences because people have different beliefs and assumptions about characteristics that are deemed effective for leadership. Therefore, it is fundamental to know what leadership skills and knowledge are valued most by managers on a global level. This information is critical as it offers insight into developing competencies in different workplaces, especially as organisations expand their geographical boundaries into international markets. Originality/value – The findings of the study provide empirical understanding for culturally-linked leadership styles. The paper contributes to understanding the importance of workforce diversity and attention to other cultures and, thus, enhances our appreciation of today’s “global village”.
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