Leadership refers to the ability to create vision and align people and their actions toward achieving that vision. Leadership styles vary by country. This variation can be attributed to cultural differences as well as economic factors. Understanding the differences in leadership styles helps small business owners who seek to expand abroad or those who hire workers from various ethnic backgrounds.

Focus Fluctuation

American leadership style tends to be hard driving and focusing on execution, particularly of an immediate task. This focus is similar to that in the United Kingdom and also has some aspects in common with that of emerging economies such as India, which, because of their rapid growth must focus on moving products to market quickly. By contrast, the Nordic and Benelux countries tend to focus more on strategy, planning and communication, according to Forbes. Those from Belgium, China and the Netherlands tend to be idealist, having more flexible styles, according to a 2012 Bersin & Associates Global Leadership Study.

View of Self

Leadership styles also differ in the notion of self. For example, the United States tends to be individualistic. Accountability rests on individuals and leadership decisions are typically based upon what is best for the company and its individual owners. In China, one's self is viewed in relationship to others and Chinese seek to transform others through their example. In the Benelux and Nordic countries, leadership, like the culture, is built around a common good.

Leader-Oriented Styles

Four styles typically describe how leaders deal with subordinates. Directive and charismatic leadership revolve around the leader. Directive leadership, in which an executive tells a subordinate what to do, is typically less popular in America than in much of Asia. Charismatic leaders gain followers just by their magnetism and aura, rather than because they are particularly good business people. Although this style is present in many cultures, the definition of a charismatic person differs.

People-oriented styles

Participative leadership, which involves teamwork, is popular in some American companies, but is much more prevalent in Europe. Empowering leadership, which involves building trust with and energizing subordinates, is very popular in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands. It also is popular with some young business leaders in Asia and in innovative American firms.