B2 Leadership

the role of the manager

Cultural expectations and leadership


Read an article about the different cultural expectations of a leader to practise and improve your reading skills.


Before reading


Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Preparation task


Match the definitions (a–h) with the vocabulary (1–8).


Vocabulary Definition

1. …… vague

2. …… to carry out a task

3. …… democratic

4. …… a hierarchy

5. …… to come up with

6. …… resentment

7. …… to be perceived

8. …… to have initiative


a. to perform or complete a job or activity

b. unclear, not specific or definite

c. a system where members are ranked according to status

or authority

d. based on the idea that everyone is equal and should be

involved in making decisions

e. to think of something such as an idea or plan

f. to be seen or understood in a certain way

g. to have the ability to take action without someone telling

you what to do next

h. dissatisfaction and bad feelings from being treated unfairly


Reading text: Cultural expectations and leadership


Gabriela worked for a multinational company as a successful project manager in Brazil and was transferred to manage a team in Sweden. She was excited about her new role but soon realised that managing her new team would be a challenge.

Despite their friendliness, Gabriela didn’t feel respected as a leader. Her new staff would question her proposals openly in meetings, and when she gave them instructions on how to carry out a task, they would often go about it in their own way without checking with her.

When she announced her decisions on the project, they would continue giving their opinions as if it was still up for discussion.

After weeks of frustration, Gabriela emailed her Swedish manager about the issues she was facing with her team. Her manager simply asked her if she felt her team was still performing, and what she thought would help her better collaborate with her team members. Gabriela found her manager vague and didn’t feel as if he was managing the situation satisfactorily.

What Gabriela was experiencing was a cultural clash in expectations. She was used to a more hierarchical framework where the team leader and manager took control and gave specific instructions on how things were to be done. This more directive management style worked well for her and her team in Brazil but did not transfer well to her new team in Sweden, who were more used to a flatter hierarchy where decision making was more democratic. When Gabriela took the issue to her Swedish manager, rather than stepping in with directions about what to do, her manager took on the role of coach and focused on getting her to come up with her own solutions instead.