Employee leadership in India

A number of leadership styles can be found in Indian companies – from hierarchical and authoritarian to patriarchal and cooperative. If you find yourself in a situation to lead Indian employees, there are a lot of particularities to keep in mind. Read today’s blog post to find out how to collaborate with Indian employees successfully and how to achieve your goals without a significant loss in time or quality.

In the past, a special kind of leadership has proven successful in Indian companies. Through “management by objectives”, the ideas of western managers can easily be united with the way Indian employees work. The process involves managers holding discussions with individual employees to agree on common goals. If you adhere to the following rules, both sides can easily find satisfaction:

  • Always make mutual agreements in writing.
  • Use clear phrasing and make sure your objectives are understood.
  • Clarify responsibilities and hierarchies, especially when it comes to teamwork.
  • Introduce a bonus system that rewards goal attainment and thus motivates the workforce.
  • Monitor the situation continuously. Inquire about teams’ and employees’ adherence to schedules and goals at short intervals. Run statistics with the employees to that end.
  • Don’t restrict your Indian employees too much lest they quickly lose their motivation.

Presence, delegation, control and feedback

For your business in India to be successful, you need a very good understanding of Indian perceptions regarding leadership. Key factors include presence, delegation, control and feedback.

Showing presence as a manager is probably the most important leadership principle in India. On top of that, you should always make sure that the hierarchy empowers cross-cultural training, india, employee leadershipyou to delegate tasks to certain employees to avoid experiencing any kind of delegation disaster. You should also ensure that those you’re addressing understand the prioritization, goals and content of their tasks, as well as their tasks’ significance and overall context. Times, deadlines and monitoring intervals should also be known.

The supervision of Indian employees at work tends to be pretty important – especially in terms of vigilance. We’d like to make the following recommendations to that end:

  • Promptly monitor the handling of assigned tasks.
  • If you delegate this task to an Indian manager, he will probably only complete it to your satisfaction if you make him explicitly responsible for it and if he has to report on it. So give him the opportunity to do this!
  • Train your Indian colleagues with regard to a western understanding of quality and time, as well as to the importance of adhering to deadlines.

While doing business in India, you’ll probably be in a position at some point to have to criticize the work of your employees or business partners if it doesn’t conform to your ideas or standards. Under no circumstances should you directly express criticism or negative statements in India; you should rather be indirect and diplomatic in order to preserve harmony in the company.

And to spare yourself a communicative catastrophe, utilize the sandwich method [praise-criticism-praise], private conversations and positive starting positions. When collaborating with Indians, act according to the principle “heap praise and avoid negative feedback”.

These are, of course, only basic facets of the topic of employee leadership. You can find more in-depth information and tips on other business topics relating to the target country of India in our cross-cultural training on India.


About Andreas Riedel

I studied tourism management and European studies/cultural studies. In both subjects I took a close look at cross-cultural communication from different angels. I have been working as a key account manager at Eidam & Partner since 2013. We offer worldwide services related to cross-cultural communication, such as cross-cultural training, cross-cultural coaching, eLearning and preparation for international assignments for more than 80 target countries.
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