As U.S. companies reach out into emerging markets, both male and female executives find that their credibility is derived from adapting their leadership style, local cultural expectation. And according to surveys, expectations for men and women vary dramatically. In some countries, like Russia, for example, female leaders are expected to demonstrate authority in a more reserved way than men. India, on the other hand, has a culture of open debate, where women executives are expected to ask questions and show a willingness to learn.
Regardless, the general expectation for women in Asian markets is to be far less assertive than men. When it comes to delivering a compelling the message, executives can either guide listeners to a conclusion or state conclusions directly. In Japan, for example, 61% of respondents said that women should not be direct in delivering a compelling message or conclusion, while for men, the expectation was to be direct. China was off the charts, whit the 78% saying women should not be direct.
Although many of these executives received formal cross-cultural training from a general business perspective, only 50% of the women surveyed said they had been given a gendered approach. In order to be considered “leadership material” in emerging markets, women will need to be made aware of these expectations - and trained to meet them.