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你有多傲慢?

2014-05-30    来源:四不像    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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How Arrogant Are You?

“I don’t tell people I’m the company’s co-founder. I say I work there. Then, if they ask, I say I work on the business side, and then if they ask further, I say I’m the CEO.”

–Slava Rubin, Co-founder of crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, to FORTUNE Magazine

I recently circulated this quote on my Sibuxiang weibo. It comes from a highly successful American entrepreneur who was speaking to a writer from FORTUNE Magazine.

Among the feedback I received was an interesting question from one young Chinese fan : “Why?” In other words, why would the CEO of a very successful company display this kind of attitude?

I think it’s a question worth examining. Rubin makes a very revealing statement about one aspect of his leadership style as CEO. It is obviously rooted in an American cultural context, but it is interesting to consider whether it is a quality which can cross over different cultures effectively. I happen to think that it can and does.

If you imagine a spectrum of values with arrogance at one end and humility at the other, Rubin’s statement reflects the opposite end of the spectrum from arrogance .

It shows that he strongly identifies as an equal with the rest of his colleagues, to an extent that both internally and externally, he is reluctant to bask in the glory of being the boss. My weibo fan, quite rightly, asks “Why”?

I don’t know Rubin, but I have dealt with a lot of CEOs and other organizational leaders, and it strikes me that humility is not an uncommon trait, especially outside of Asian societies which tend to have deeply-rooted, weighty hierarchical traditions.

Among Chinese CEOs that I’ve met, some of the notably successful ones are also relatively humble in their style of interaction with others. Frankly, especially among larger company CEOs, that’s fairly unusual . Chinese culture tends to treat leaders with an enormously high degree of deference and respect, and quite a few big company CEOs project an image not unlike the emperors of olden days .

When I first came to China in the mid-1970s, there were no CEOs. Chinese companies were not really companies, but government departments; and private enterprises were taboo. Everyone dressed the same, looked the same, and didn’t even carry business cards. International company CEOs, with very few exceptions (mainly smaller companies), didn’t visit China yet because it was considered a marginal, pre-emerging market.

So, along with a lot of other things, the development of the leadership style of Chinese CEOs is actually a very recent phenomenon. China’s State-owned Enterprises enjoy a fair degree of controversy these days. One thing about the leaders of the biggest SOEs is that they have management experience in a wider range of organizations than most international company CEOs. Many have done stints as provincial, municipal, and central government leaders, either on the government or party side, or both.

In many respects, this is a strength, although it tends not to produce leaders with a humble style of interaction with internal and external communities. To some extent, these leaders are by necessity following a script on style and substance, as compared with their counterparts in China’s fast-growing non-State sector. Being accessible to stakeholders at a lower level, or those external to their organization, is not necessarily something they are accustomed to or experienced with.

Entrepreneurs face myriad choices on the road to building their companies. Some of these relate to what kind of leader they want to be, including the question of where on the spectrum of “arrogance versus humility” they want to place their leadership style.

This is not just a reflection of one’s personality, although that clearly has an important bearing.

So, back to my weibo fan’s question: “Why? ”

I can’t answer for Mr. Rubin, but I can outline some of the benefits that leaders enjoy when they choose a leadership style closer to his than to the emperor’s.

For an organization to be effective, bad news must travel up, alerting top leadership to looming problems and emerging crises. This is commonly not a strength of Chinese companies, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, arrogance at the top discourages managers from passing bad news up. Accountability among managers is a part of the problem, but so is fear of reprisal.

Another strength of effective organizations is teamwork. A culture of teamwork is essential to innovation, problem-solving, and managing organizational change. Although achieving this depends on much more than just the leadership style of the CEO, it’s a lot easier to achieve when the top dog considers himself or herself to be cut from the same cloth as all the other colleagues.

Humility tends to make leaders more approachable and better listeners. If you’re seeking to create a company where outstanding customer service is essential, a corporate culture of approachability is important. It helps if this starts with the CEO, as a role model.

More often than not, humility is a choice. Arrogance is a default position often based on insecurity, or on following perceived norms of behavior within a societal set.

Arrogance tends to build pedestals and walls. Humility builds bridges and channels.

The interesting thing is that humble leaders are not only more pleasant to work with, but they build enterprises which tend to be more successful and profitable on a sustained basis, even after they move on.

Are their exceptions to this? Sure. Can I prove this assertion empirically? Nope. Just my two cents’ worth based on forty years’ wandering around observing with eyes and ears open.


“我不会告诉别人我是公司的合伙人,只会说自己是在那儿工作。如果他们问,我就说自己是做业务的,再追问的话,我就说是CEO。”

——众筹平台Indiegogo的联合创始人斯拉瓦•鲁宾告诉《财富》杂志的记者。

最近,我在自己的微博 “四不像”中转发了这句话,它出自一位美国成功企业家与《财富》杂志撰稿人的对话。

在这条微博的评论中,有位年轻的中国粉丝问了个有趣的问题:“为什么啊?”换言之,就是为什么一家成功企业的CEO要作如此表态?

我认为这个问题值得探讨。鲁宾的表述极具启发性,从一个侧面揭示了他作为首席执行官的领导风格。这固然和美国的文化背景一脉相承,但想想如能将它用作有效克服文化差异的能力也颇有意思。我个人认为这不仅可行而且已经见效。

试想存在一个价值观图谱,一端是傲慢,另一端是谦卑,鲁宾的表态就应显示在图谱上与傲慢相反的一端。

这反映出鲁宾极力想证明自己与同事平起平坐,甚至到了对内对外都不愿笼罩在老板光环下的地步。正因如此,我的粉丝才会问“为什么”。

我和鲁宾不曾相识,但我接触过其他很多CEO和领导者。他们身上普遍具备的谦卑品质给我留下了极深的印象,尤其是亚洲以外地区的领导。亚洲的等级制度相对森严,由来已久,根深蒂固。

在我遇见的中国CEO中,一些成就显著的人士待人接物比较谦逊。但坦白地讲,越是大型企业的CEO就越少表现出这种姿态。中国文化讲究对领导绝对地服从和尊重,很多大企业的CEO展现出的形象无异于古代的君主。

上世纪七十年代中期我初次来华,那时还没有CEO。中国的公司不是真正意义上的企业,只是政府的下属部门,私企也绝对遭到禁止。那时大家的穿着相仿,外貌相仿,甚至连名片都没有。跨国企业的CEO,除极个别(主要是小型公司)外,根本就没到过中国,因为那时中国还被视作尚未崛起的边缘市场。

所以,随着形势的发展,中国CEO领导模式的形成其实只是最近的事。眼下,围绕中国国企的争论相当多,其一就是大型国企的领导比跨国企业的CEO拥有更多的组织管理经验,他们很多人都曾担任过省、市和中央一级的政府或党内领导,或者党政职务一肩挑。

虽然从很多方面这都不失为一种优势,但在内外交往中却很难塑造出态度谦逊的领导。某种程度上,这些领导和中国快速发展的非公企业老板相比,从表到里都不可避免地遵循着一套固有模式,对下级或外部人员平易近人不是他们已经惯熟的那一套。

在打造企业的过程中,企业家面临多种选择,有些与他们想要成为哪种领导相关,包括领导风格在“傲慢与谦卑”的图谱上如何定位。

这不仅是一个人品格的展现,虽说品格也很重要。

所以,再回到粉丝的问题上,“为什么?”

我无法替代鲁宾回答这个问题,但我能勾勒出选择与鲁宾相近的领导风格比选择“帝王”风格好在哪里。

有效的组织必须容许“报忧”,能向领导发送应对潜在问题和危机的警示。由于这样那样的原因,中国企业普遍不具备这种优势,原因之一就是上级领导的傲慢挫伤了经理层报忧的积极性。经理层的责任心固然重要,但害怕报复也是问题所在。

有效组织的另一个优势是团队合作。合作文化对改革创新、解决问题和组织变革至关重要。尽管实现这一目标还要依赖除CEO领导风格外的很多东西,但如果一把手能把自己和其他同事视为同类,实现目标就会容易得多。

谦卑让领导更平易近人,长于倾听。要想打造以卓越客户服务为核心的企业,具有亲和力的企业文化尤为重要。若能从CEO开始率先垂范,就更有裨益。

多半情况下,谦卑是一种选择,而傲慢却是由于缺乏安全感或是顺从某一社会群体自觉行为规范的本能反应。

傲慢只能筑起神坛和壁垒,而谦卑却可以搭建桥梁和渠道。

有趣的是,谦和的领导不仅让人更愿意与他共事,还能促进企业的可持续成功及盈利,即便是在领导离开之后。

有没有例外呢?肯定有。那么我能凭经验证明这个论断吗?当然不行。这只是在下基于四十多年所见所闻的一点愚见,呵呵。



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