A Challenging Workplace
As a leader in campus organizations, Samira Tanaka, a student, often led
projects and took deadlines very seriously. Her strong work ethic led to
an internship offer at a Japanese automotive company.
At orientation for her internship, Samira learned that Japanese companies
historically had little diversity in terms of race and gender. Women
in Japan were not as prevalent in the workforce as in North America. In
an effort to adapt to North American norms, Japanese subsidiaries had
well-developed diversity policies. For example, Samira tracked the usage
of minority-owned businesses in the company’s supply base. This ensured
that the company invested in local businesses that operated in traditionally
economically disadvantaged areas. Investing in the local community
was already an important business value in Japan, so this was a simple
adaptation for Samira’s company.
The company culture was a unique blend of Japanese and North
American work styles. The employees in North America worked fewer
hours than the employees in Japan. Around the office, it was common for
employees to hear Japanese and English. However, management still had
some internal conflict. Japanese advisers were perceived as focusing on
the creation of consensus in teams, often leading to slow decision making.
North American workers were seen as rushing into projects without
enough planning. Feedback was indirect from both Japanese and North
Samira successfully completed two internship rotations and was
about to graduate from college. Her new manager often asked her to
follow up with other team members to complete late tasks. As she had
been taught in school, she was proactive with team members about
completing their work. Samira thought she was great at consistently
inviting others to participate in the decision-making process. She always
offered her opinion on how things could be done better, and sometimes
even initiated tasks to improve processes on her own. Although she saw
herself as an emerging take-charge leader, Samira always downplayed
her ambitions. In school, she was often stereotyped in negative ways for
being an assertive female leader, and she didn’t want to be seen in that
way at work.
Some of her peers at work advised her that it was important to
consider working at a plant near her hometown because it would be
closer to her family. However, she was not interested in following that
advice. Samira thought it was more exciting to work near a large city
or to take a job that involved travel. She didn’t think it was appropriate
to discuss with her peers her family concerns in relation to her future
Toward the end of her final internship, Samira received a performance
evaluation from a senior manager. Her manager praised her as being very
dependable, as planning deadlines well, and as being very competent at
her tasks overall. However, he also told her she was increasingly perceived
as too pushy, not a team player, and often speaking out of turn. This
often irritated her peers.
Samira had never seen herself this way at work and did not understand
why she was not seen as aligning with the company’s core value of
working with others. Good grades and campus leadership activities had
gotten her this far, but this evaluation led her to question whether she
could work for this company after graduation.
Samira ultimately realized that her workplace was different from
the campus atmosphere she was used to. If she wanted to be an
emerging leader in the workplace, she had to better adapt to her new
1. What similarities and differences can you identify between North
American and Japanese working styles?
2. In what way did this company reflect the characteristics of other
Confucian Asia countries?
3. Why do you think Samira was not seen as a team player?
4. What universal leadership attributes did Samira exhibit?
5. What other suggestions would you have for Samira in this situation?
Read The Case Study above 6.3 address the following in a paper:
- Thoroughly analyze the situation and the needed areas of improvement.
- Determine the needed leadership style to help develop a solution.
- Outline an action plan for a resolution.
- Make additional suggestions based on your personal experience to prevent issues like this from happening in the future.
- Your paper must be four to five pages in length, not counting the title and reference pages that you must include.
- Include and cite at least two scholarly references.
- Follow APA style guidelines.