Grey Management in Chinese Leadership

China is in a period of transition marked by rapid changes in market environments, regulations, knowledge and technology. This has implications for leaders as they try to navigate a rapidly changing environment and sustain their organisations’ growth and development. Professor Xiaobo Wu of Zhejiang University, China, looks at how Chinese technology firm Huawei has utilised the concept of grey management to see it through periods of transition

Periods of transition and change act as bridges between different kinds of systems. These periods call for a style of leadership that is equally transitional. Transitional leadership is required when an organisation moves from a centralised model to a more participatory, democratic one. A leader during a period of transition cannot be the capable manager of a hierarchical, centralised organisation that exists in a planned economy, nor can the leader be the strategic decisionmaker required in a market economy. Instead, the transitional leader should be a hybrid of both and base their...

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