What happens when Indians and Israelis work together

Over the years, I have consulted more than a hundred teams of Israelis and Indians working together in all configurations. Israelis with Indian bosses, Indians with Israeli bosses and Indians and Israelis with a German boss.

Whilst India is a huge country and Israelis are a very diverse and individualist lot, there tend to be several common characteristics  that I want to share.

  1. Israelis challenge authority and face saving is unknown. Indians appear to defer to authority and face saving is a an important cornerstone in civil dialogue.
  2. Indians often request permission from their bosses if they need to overstep their role; their Israeli counterparts view this behaviour as “hiding” behind their bosses.
  3. Both Indians and Israeli bypass the system and leverage personal connections to get things done; this serves as an excellent platform for solving what seem to be insurmountable problems, if there is trust. But often there is not.
  4. Indian employees exhibit deference and their Israeli bosses often think that there is agreement on a course of action, when there is no agreement whatsoever. Or, Israelis push back on their Indian bosses, arguing and appearing to undermine them. Some of this is cultural. Lots of it is different ways to augment power.
  5. Both Israelis and Indians negotiate all the time as a way of life. The better the negotiation skills are, the more mutual respect is garnered. (These negotiation skills can drive US and German managers out of their mind.)
  6. Both Israelis and Indians work very hard and put in long hours, with constant availability via their mobiles. These similarities may build trust over time, if and when people start playing for the same team.
  7. Indians tend to want to please their clients, who are often rough and tumble. Israelis “know” what their clients want, better than the client!
  8. Indians focus on doing their own job and deferring to other people to do their job. Israelis strive for end to end control to enhance the solution,not necessarily to look good.

Consultants who work with Israel Indian teams should focus on clarifying relationship to authority, defining expectations from follower-ship, communication styles under duress, ways to augment transparency and face saving. mechanisms.

On a personal level, I love working with Israeli and Indian teams. Both populations show consultants a lot of appreciation and warmth if the consultant does the work properly.


Share Button

5 thoughts on “What happens when Indians and Israelis work together

  1. Very useful summary. Do you have any experience of differences in how time is handled between the two groups? I have quite a lot of experience with Indians, and those who work with Indians, to know that time can be an issue for other nationalities working with them. And the difference is rooted at a very deep – in fact spiritual – level within the Indian psyche, so hard to understand for outsiders. I don’t have as much experience with Israelis, so not sure if, as regards time, their more linear side comes out, or whether they operate more on people rather than clock time. And of course, Indians are pretty flexible, so may adapt to local norms if based there….

    • Hi Michael
      Both Indians and Israelis are not punctual.
      Indians often go round and round and the Israelis go on and on.
      Both sides view time as an unlimited resource.
      The Israelis view of time is-content first, time last; every decision can be opened as time moves on, time is “circular” (Jewish thing too complex to elaborate) too much attention to time based discipline is “stupid”
      Thanks for reading

  2. Working in health care in New York City I have known and worked with people from India from different religious/cultural backgrounds, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim and Jain. Is this information applicable to the diversity of people from India?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.