Although attitudes to leadership might be changing in Turkey, they are changing slowly and as would be expected a strongly hierarchical business structure tends to breed strong, paternalistic leaders. Showing authority and being authoritative are not considered negative traits in a leader in Turkey. On the contrary, leaders are expected to lead and followers are expected to follow.
There is a basic familial trust which is developed within organisations which means that leaders will act as the father figure – giving direct instructions and advice – whilst their subordinates will go to extraordinary lengths to deliver against those instructions and protect their superior from any possible difficulty or harm.
This approach to management and leadership brings with it a number of key results which need to be considered when doing business in Turkey. Firstly, leaders are expected to make all the decisions and subordinates will tend to refer everything to their superiors for both approval and correction. This can obviously slow things down if the leader is busy on other tasks. The fact that no decision has been reached on your proposal might not be a polite refusal or a stalling tactic but simply the inevitable consequence of a hierarchical decision-making process.
Secondly, any decision which you think you may have reached may become invalid very quickly if the boss was not present in the room. It is pointless trying to push for a decision if the key people are not present – yet another reason you need to do the research on your counterparties before entering into negotiations.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Turkey only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.