Kiss up kick down is super common in China. (We also recruit in the US) It is kissing up to your superiors and kicking your staff. Common does not mean it should be acceptable. Excellent leaders know when they have been kissed up to and how to check to see if that person is kicking down. It is critical to keep those people out. Their example is contagious and leads to a toxic company. Inc. has an article up on killing this disease called 4 Ways to Kill a Corporate Cancer that is quite insightful and worth a read.
Kiss Up Kick Down in China
I want to talk on the issue in China. Many times owners are too far away from China to realize it is happening in their China business. Some think China is just that way and accept it. See also Chinese Play Chess and We Play Checkers.
Chinese parents and teachers yell and use fear as the means to get kids going to get good grades and give face to the parents. Teacher pay is also closely tied to student grades, so they yell and even drive out lower performing students who are hurting their pay.
The result is that children must kiss up to their parents and teachers out of fear. This can save them in a very tough childhood system. When they get authority, they will naturally secretly kick down like was modeled to them. They will keep using kiss up as useful to their survival at school. When they manage, kiss down feels wrong to them and even many Westerners reward those who kiss up without seeing they kick down further reinforcing the habit.
We find that China has leaders who have overcome the example of their culture and learned to care for people below them and develop them to be top performers. Let’s make sure we get them on our team. Look closely at your leaders and their subordinates. I have even seen HR managers do it. It is super common and so harmful.