Workplace Culture: Achievement vs. Nurturing Leadership

Updated on May 5, 2020
lani81 profile image

MBA graduate Lani has spent the past 8 years, researching, discussing and writing about major concepts relating to business and leadership

Discover more about Geert Hofstede's research on achievement-oriented leadership and nurturing-oriented leadership.
Discover more about Geert Hofstede's research on achievement-oriented leadership and nurturing-oriented leadership. | Source

Geert Hofstede's Research: Achievement Orientation and Nurturing Orientation

The idea of achievement- versus nurture-oriented leadership follows closely with Hofstede's third cultural dimension of masculinity-femininity. In Hofstede's model, masculine value systems focus on success, while nurturing is the focus of feminine value systems.

  • Masculine cultures exhibit a preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards, increasing competitiveness within the community.
  • Femininity prefers cooperation, modesty, and quality of life, creating a consensus-oriented society.


Achievement Orientation

Achievement orientation relates to an individual's values and behaviors regarding accomplishment, success, and ability to overcome difficulties. Much like the comparison of risk-averse personalities versus risk-taker tendencies, achievement versus nurturing orientations align with either an overall individualistic (masculine) culture or a collective (nurturing) culture.

The degree to which a community adopts assertiveness, acquisition of money and material possessions correlate with masculine/individualistic theories. Cultures emphasizing feminine (collective/nurturing) orientations value quality of life, welfare, emotional expression, and compassion (Musambira & Matusitz, 2015).

Just as with risk-aversion and uncertainty, achievement-oriented personalities will seek to connect with organizations sharing similar values. Achievement-orientated employees will actively pursue performance evaluation and assessments and are intrinsically motivated to perform at high levels of excellence.

Benefits and Shortcomings of the Achievement Orientation

There are pros and cons when leadership encourages personal achievement and individual success.

  • Pros: Clearly communicated goals, consistent deadlines, guaranteed rewards, and tangible results are examples of what goes right.
  • Cons: Employee burnout, poor work-life balance, low employee feedback, and high turnover are what goes wrong.

The advantages and disadvantages of leadership styles focused on achievement is beneficial when the organization is striving to present consistent results. Everyone involved is reaching for individual triumph and personal goals. Unfortunately, without proper employee feedback, leaders become insulated and lose touch with their followers, causing costly turnovers and lack of innovation.

Nurture-oriented | Source

Nurturing Orientation

Employees who are not concerned with achievement and success will avoid performance feedback and find competency evaluations uncomfortable. In achievement-oriented environments, these employees become increasingly anxious in regards to their performance and experience excess stress and negative psychological well-being as a response to an increasingly insecure job situation (Yi & Wang, 2015).

Men and women who do not seek satisfaction through personal achievements may find comfort in an organization supportive of a more nurturing collective culture. A nurturing culture provides a sense of security to employees. Individual efforts are not the central focus of performance evaluations as values rest in concern for others, quality of life, and building relationships. In these organizations, there is less need for assertiveness; collaboration amongst peers is encouraged, resulting in less job-related stress.

Benefits and Shortcomings of the Nurture Orientation

  • Pros: Nurture-oriented leadership styles strive to strengthen relationships between the employee and the organization. It differs from achievement-oriented methods by focusing on work-life balance, self-sacrifice, and consensus.
  • Cons: Unfortunately, it is not without its downfalls. Blending personal wants and goals with the organization creates hive minds ill-equipped and reluctant to speak out against the status quo. Additionally, competitiveness is reduced as change is difficult and slow.

What's Important

Individualistic organizations have a lower tolerance for power distance, are achievement-oriented and are less risk-averse. Collectivist organizations accept greater power distances, are nurture-oriented and are highly risk-averse. These articles seemingly present these cultural constructs as pipelines, definitive cause, and effects from which no organization escapes. In reality, many organizations exist as a blend of every topic/concept discussed and is a direct reflection of the society in which the company operates.

Culture is a combination of many complicated factors. Common themes will emerge as dominant, influencing citizens and shaping beliefs and behaviors to favor the individual or the group. Modern western leadership attempts to include the best of both worlds. Value and respect extend to both the individual and the group simultaneously. Increased dedication to emotional intelligence opens the door for diversity and tolerance, nurturing each employee to align existing beliefs in a way that furthers the organization

Textbook Recommendation

Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Third Edition
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Third Edition
I basically studied this book for the better part of an academic year while in graduate school, and it has taught me many things about culture and sociology in the workplace. This text provides in-depth examples and analogies in how culture is represented in the workplace and through leadership in the real world.


Hofstede's Insights:

Mind tools content team, (n.d.) Retrieved from

Musambira, G., & Matusitz, J. (2015). Communication technology and culture: Analysing selected cultural dimensions and human development indicators. International Journal of Technology Management & Sustainable Development Volume 14 Number 1 DOI: 10.1386/tmsd.14.1.17_1

The Future of Working

Yi, X., & Wang, S. (2015). Revisiting the Curvilinear Relation Between Job Insecurity and Work Withdrawal: The Moderating Role of Achievement Orientation and Risk Aversion. Human Resource Management, 54(3), 499-515. DOI:10.1002/hrm.21638

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Lani Morris


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)