The Cross-Cultural Revolution: YCIS’s Co-Leadership Model

The YCIS concept of Co-leadership is one that is quite unique to workplaces in China and indeed the world. While on the surface it may seem self-explanatory, implementing the actual techniques involved in creating a cross-cultural environment where there is mutual respect, adaptation, and co-operation between the two different approaches of Chinese and Western leadership is actually very challenging. On May 19, YCIS Beijing Co-principals Christine Xu and Noel Thomas delivered a seminar at the European Chamber of Commerce regarding cultural awareness in the workplace, useful strategies for embracing cultural differences, and the advantages that this unique leadership model promotes.


Mr Thomas began the seminar explaining what it means to have a Co-leadership made up of a Chinese and a Western representative and the connotations that this model implies. Mr. Thomas began by explaining that the idea that a single man from a single “western” nation (in his case Australia) can be representative for the extremely rich and varied cultures that make up the entirety of the amorphous concept of the west is quite impossible. Instead, he states that it is his duty to promote the so-called “western ideals of management” rather than be a spokesman for the entirety of western culture. In the same way that Miss Xu cannot possibly hope to represent the entire Chinese culture (which itself is made up of 56 distinct cultural ethnicities), they must search for the best way to compromise and utilize the cultural ideals that they themselves as people have been instilled with as a result of their upbringing in their respective cultures.


Ms Xu, drawing on Mr Thomas’ introduction stated that their management style is never in a fixed state, but is in fact constantly growing and evolving. Continued observation and reflection is vital to create an environment in which two culturally different approaches can work together to reach the same goal. Critical thinking and constructive expression must be used so that each member can harness their individual and cultural strengths to support the other. While it is challenging to achieve such harmony, through sharing strategic targets and adapting to certain unchangeable realities, co-leaders can become a functionally single unit that carries with it the best of eastern and western philosophies.

YCIS’s unique co-leadership model exemplifies how our founding philosophies, based on our mission of instilling in students a global awareness and equal appreciation of eastern and western cultures, are applied not just within our academic departments but within our organization as a whole. To witness first-hand how these core values are implemented on our Beijing campus, book a tour with our admissions staff today.

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