The study of leadership is one of the most often researched management topics. However, most research and theory contributions are to a great extent limited to accounting for leadership practice in the West. This study is designed to develop an effective leadership model that works in the Chinese context. Paternalistic leadership, a dominant leadership style in an Eastern business environment, is compared with transformational leadership, a dominant leadership style in a Western business environment. In addition, the cultural differences between China and the West relating to leader-follower relationships suggest different leadership behaviors may be more effective in one of these cultures than in the other. For example, trust in the West is treated as the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest, and co-operative behavior. It is important to examine how the Western versus the Chinese view of trust differs and how trust in each culture relates to leadership effectiveness.
Another factor highly prized by Chinese traditions and associated with Chinese leadership is harmony. The best Chinese leaders display a distinctive and effective way of negotiating complex environments. They do so in such a way as to create a harmonious result in which all parties are at least reasonably satisfied with the result. This study will, therefore, also explore how harmony mediates the relationship between leaders’ behavior and leadership effectiveness. Moreover, as employees’ individual differences such as generation is considered as an important factor that will impact the outcome as people in different generations have different values and beliefs, thus viewing leaders differently, it is interesting to see how younger people perceive leaders differently from the older people in China. In summary, the purposes of this study are to propose a Chinese culture-specific leadership theory, built on traditional Confucianism, and to examine and articulate a culturally informed and warranted ground for a leadership model in the Chinese context.