Leadership in Hong Kong – Aiming for Asian Serenity: Working in Hong Kong needs to be learned

02. October 2018 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Those who are attracted to Hong Kong should pay good attention because the cultural differences and challenges can seem extreme. The good news: a lot of disppointment can be avoided with a good expert at hand.

Let’s kick it off with no more than clothing: much more than in the western world it is still common to choose a classic-conservative business attire, always keeping in mind that it is better to be a little overdressed than too casual. Men choose dark suits with shirts and ties, women do nothing wrong with a suit or blazer. Allowed and even advantageous is to display expensive accessories such as watches or jewelry.

“For many, it’s not easy to get used to the Asian leadership style at first.”

Says investment expert Dr. Marc Faber, publisher of the monthly “THE GLOOM – BOOM & DOOM” report. Born in Switzerland, he has been living in Hong Kong for several years now. “Those who want to be successful in Asia not only have to know the financial markets, but also have to familiarize themselves with the deviant hard and soft management skills and leadership styles. For example, delegating is not a common practice in Hong Kong. It can mean that the one who delegates is no match for his job. That would be an admission of weakness which, in Asia, needs to be avoided  under any circumstances.”

Nicole Brandes is International Management Coach and Intercultural Business Expert. She supports her clients in intercultural management. In her career, she has met many desperate western managers who broke their teeth on the Asian durability. “In Asia, it is important that everyone involved keeps their face at all times. A nod therefore does not always mean approval but is done out of courtesy or even insecurity. “Our direct nature would almost always produce exactly the opposite of what we hope for. “Clear communication as we are used to simply does not work in Asian negotiations.” Even fixating or looking someone into the eye for too long can be considered rude and even hostile in the worst case.“

“Those who want to be successful in Hong Kong need first and foremost serenity, patience and perseverance.”

David Gething grew up in Australia and works passionately as a veterinarian since many years. His second passion is to run marathons, which surely was not always the case. Only a few years ago, he decided to completely change his life and transformed from an overweight coachpotatoe into a successful extreme-performance athlete. He likes to run the World Marathon Challenge – 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents – which he won once so far. Living in Hong Kong with his family, he runs one of the largest veterinary practice groups and can be called a true expert of the area. “Those who want to be successful in Hong Kong need first and foremost serenity, patience and perseverance,” he grins. “It’s just like a marathon: who gives up on the last few meters will not reach the finish line.”

This is also true for the renowned sales and marketing / PR strategist David Meerman Scott. For two years, he worked for a global media company in Hong Kong. “One thing I quickly left behind is the insistence on agreed deadlines,” he says. “Deadlines don’t work in Hong Kong because they are simply not welcome in their social context.”

“Also, at first, negotiations seemed to me somewhat ineffective because the Chinese-style to negotiate does not intend to get straight to the point. Nobody would ever say aloud: I do not like the idea. If they do not like a suggestion, it’s back on the agenda the next day. Latest by then, foreign business partners should have understood that there is still no unity in this matter.”

Swiss television correspondent Barbara Lüthi lives in Hong Kong with her husband, television producer and foreign correspondent Tomas Etzler. Both explain that Hong Kong is less about the individual than the common consensus. “In addition, it is more bureaucratic than we are used to,” says Lüthi. “Changes need a lot more time accordingly. Patience is the keyword.”

Social and political change in Asia

Journalist and writer Michael Vatikiotis, who lived in Hong Kong as a correspondent and now lives in Singapore, agrees 100 percent. A hectic pace and impatience are not welcomed in the social context. It makes things even worse. Vatikiotis writes in the Hong Kong-published literary magazine “Dim Sum” on social and political change in Asia.

Do not leave your success in Hong Kong to chance – but let the experts support you! We are happy to help with our wide range of Top-Speakers in this field. Call us or send us your inquiry to welcome@premium-speakers.com

Barbara Lüthi

Expert on China & South East Asia

Nicole Brandes

Expert for Future-oriented Leadership, Thought Thinker, Member of the Future Institute Europe, Author

Marc Faber

Expert in Finance & Economy. The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report!

Michael Vatikiotis

Author & Journalist South East Asia

David Gething

Doctor, Author & Extreme Sportsman - Winner World Marathon Challenge