Samsung: Increasing Cultural Awareness for Leadership around the Globe

Challenge

Samsung, a world leader in manufacturing diversified products for the global marketplace, was experiencing intercultural clashes between the country presidents and the leaders working directly under them.

Samsung sends Koreans to be the Samsung country presidents around the world. Each country president would typically have a non-Korean direct report from the respective country who would serve as the de-facto COO. The Korean country presidents and their direct reports were not working effectively together. There were numerous cultural misunderstandings because the non-Korean executives had little or no understanding of Korean culture, and the Korean leaders had limited appreciation of the impact of their cultural style on their subordinates resulting in leaders leaving the organization.

Approach

Global Dynamics Inc. helped Samsung resolve the cultural misunderstandings among leadership through creation of a Global Leadership Platform for all of their non-Korean senior executives who reported to Korean country presidents around the world.

The Global Leadership Platform brought together non-Korean Samsung leaders from around the world. For this initiative, GDI developed a series of seminars delivered in Korea to all of the senior non-Korean staff to explain core Korean values, leadership styles and communications styles. Additionally, GDI collected numerous case studies of major challenges facing the non-Korean leaders to be shared with the Korean Country presidents.

Through this process, GDI worked with Samsung to create specific behavioral steps that non-Koreans and their Korean counterparts could take to improve mutual understanding and trust.

Results

The Samsung client reported that the program increased awareness of how cultural factors were impacting performance among the non-Korean Leaders and their Korean counterparts. Non-Korean leaders reported increased job satisfaction and a stronger sense of belonging.