Reviewed by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian
What do Spiderman, Robin Hood, and Zeus have in common? According to the authors of Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership, they can help the reader become a more effective global leader.
In today’s complex world, good leadership is critical, but the forces of globalization and the resulting intermingling and clashing of cultures can often lead to misunderstandings and sometimes disastrous results. Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership is intended to help business and political leaders to avoid potential problems by better understanding the ways in which a culture’s mythology influences its expectations for leadership.
In their introduction, editors Kessler and Wong-MingJi explain that myths (including sagas, legends, folktales, and fairytales) are stories that communicate a society’s core values and reinforce a particular social order and belief system. Unlike many other aspects of culture, mythology is important because it bridges generations. Since mythology is an important key to understanding culture, and leadership is intertwined with culture, the editors believe that anyone leading in a global or cross-cultural setting needs to know something about the other culture’s mythology in addition to understanding how one’s own culture’s mythology influences one’s leadership style.
The book consists of 20 chapters written by management scholars and practitioners from around the world, each representing a different country from four global regions: the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia and the Pacific Rim. The mythologies discussed feature such widely differing characters as the comic book superheroes of the United States, Eva Perón from Argentina, Odysseus and Zeus from Greece, Robin Hood and King Arthur from England, the Yellow Emperor from China, and the trolls of Sweden. Each chapter follows a similar format, beginning with an overview of the country’s mythology, followed by a description of leadership in that country, then the global implications and practical applications of this information. As members of the cultures they write about, the authors provide brief but insightful analyses that will help the reader to understand better how to lead their countrymen. The unique blend of mythology, leadership theory, and practical advice for global leadership in a variety of settings makes Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership a valuable resource for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of how to interact with the modern world.