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Leadership Matters – Understanding the American Dream

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

I have come to the realization that it is no small wonder that companies entering the US market from elsewhere don’t “get America” or Americans while those of us who grew up and have stayed within the confines of American markets cannot possibly understand how truly unique, or maybe more poignantly, “crazy” we seem to others. Americans are often referred to as “cowboys”, “from the wild west”, and entrepreneur is not favored in many countries.

Those who do not understand us, also do not understand our “American Dream”. Americans are truly individuals, and we live a fantastic “American Dream”. The majority of Americans today have parents who realized the American Dream–the idea of which, alone, makes us unique. Any company entering America’s economy must understand the Dream in order to “get Americans” and find success in our culture. One of the pieces of the dream is that we tend to manage monopolies out of our economy and favor the underdog.

Often, not understanding the Dream allows management to believe the “toolbox” they have used to manage employees and serve customers in their own country is the same “toolbox” to use here. In the best cases, this legacy “toolbox” is a folly and management finds itself extremely limited in its ability to create sustainable results. In the worst case, the hubris of applying an unchanged “toolbox” creates an over exposure and vulnerability that is not detected until far too late.

Using the right “toolbox” is extremely important to succeed in America! The right “toolbox” motivates, the wrong “toolbox” means spending money without achieving results.

Companies coming to America too often underestimate the power of the “toolbox”. Their management methods lack the nuance needed to engage in American culture. And, although recent examples of “muscling” our political process may have had a short term impact on our culture, one needs to ask the cost of achieving that success and sustaining it.

There are many more effective tools–which may be uncomfortable to outsiders–that can be used and that are much more cost effective and successful. Basically, regardless of what others believe about us around the world, we ultimately know, deep down inside in America, that this crazy Dream is still alive and engrained in our culture. And, so far, it has worked for us!

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