The dimension “Power Distance” is defined as the extent to which members with less power within organizations understand that power is unequally distributed. The average Power Distance index in the region is 68, compared to 40 in the United States and 35 in Germany.
It appears that most leaders in the region are more managers than leaders, and this finding is not entirely surprising. Being more managers than leaders is a major obstacle when it comes to achieving sustainable organizational change, as it means that organizational leaders exert influence for key people to become leaders as well.
A manager does not want to have more managers; a leader works hard to create leaders and spends more time on strategy than execution, learning from others, and achieving self-management in the organization. The best way to improve the perception that power is unequally distributed is to distribute power and delegate effectively. To delegate power, it is important to be a good communicator and facilitator.
Another dimension of leadership that is very specific to the region is “individualism“. The average index in the region is 20, while in the United States it is 91. Leadership that is not so individualistic seeks affirmation from others, as opposed to individualistic leadership that risks being the only one out of line. Organizational change involves risk, and in many cases is about being first in your particular industry. Leaders in our region, because of their characteristics, tends to have a certain reticence about being first and taking risks. To become more individualistic, a leader must learn in small steps to be different and feel more comfortable about being first.
The last leadership dimension that is particularly pronounced in the region is “Avoiding Uncertainty“. The average in the region is 84 compared to 46 in the United States. Leaders in the region are used to avoiding uncertainty and taking calculated risks. This is quite understandable in a society where mistakes are punished and where companies cannot afford to fail due to limited financial resources and highly regulated labor markets. This is an aspect that is rapidly changing in Latin America. Companies have begun to accept risk and uncertainty as part of innovation and change. Organizational change is a difficult task that involves a high degree of uncertainty. Leaders who are more accepting of uncertainty can manage organizational change more effectively.
In summary, leadership in Latin America can achieve sustainable change if it recognizes its limitations and admits that it is necessary to change certain attitudes and behaviors that are embedded in the culture of our environment. Leading instead of being a manager, trying to stand out and be individualistic as an organization, and embracing uncertainty are factors that will facilitate effective organizational change.