In the last blog post, we have proved that there is a significant similarity in how great leaders and managers are perceived around the world, regardless of cultural and geographical differences, and what a universal profile of great business leaders looks like.
Still, another question remains. Do managers from different countries have different strengths and weaknesses? How can leadership be measured?
Read more: 7 traits of high-performance leadership
We set out to define and measure leadership in the context of globalisation. Data from more than 3,600 respondents in four countries – Vietnam, Norway, Romania, and the Philippines – was collected and analysed using a 360° System, which is used to identify leadership & management as viewed by certain groups of individuals who know and have had the opportunity to observe the managers in the work setting.
This is accomplished with the collection of ratings from different sets of observers: the Managers themselves, Bosses (their superiors), Direct Reports (their subordinates), Peers, and Others (other observers like customers, suppliers etc.), and hence the name 360° system.
For this study, we collected 3,692 responses from 399 international managers and their 419 bosses, 1,340 direct reports, 1,383 peers, and 332 others.
Strengths of global business leaders
The table below shows the lists of Top 3 skill sets of business leaders and managers from the four countries in our study.
Interestingly, the business leaders and managers from the four countries almost shared the same strengths. “Instils trust” appeared in all four Top 3 lists. “Displays commitment” was considered to be a strong suit of managers in three countries. Two other skill sets – “Works competently” and “Works efficiently” – appeared twice, and both belong to the “Task Management” competency. There was only one skill set – “Adjusts to circumstances” – that was not shared by more than one country.
In the complex globalised world, honest and ethical leaders and managers truly are the heart and soul of successful businesses. And by maintaining a high level of positive energy, they are practising the true exemplary leadership.
It is also noteworthy that managers from the two European countries in our study scored very high with regards to the “Works Efficiently” skill set indicating that they can make efficient use of current technology and wise use of outside resources. Meanwhile, this is not among the strongest skills of Vietnamese and Filipino managers. Applying more technology and IT solutions in management should be a pressing need for emerging economies.
Weaknesses of global business leaders
The table below shows the lists of Bottom 3 skill sets of business leaders and managers from the four countries in our study.
Compared to strengths, the global managers’ weaknesses appeared to be more diverse across countries. There was no universal weakness that was included in all four lists, and there were three skills that did not make it into more than one list.
The most common weakness was “Thinks creatively”, i.e. the ability to bring an imaginative approach to the job, inspiring innovation, risk-taking and creative problem-solving. It ranked as the biggest weakness in Vietnam, the Philippines and Norway.
The characteristics of today’s businesses can be summarised in one word: “VUCA” - volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. A global business will have to constantly adapt to a shifting environment. Business leaders who fail to think outside the box are destined to fail.
The most alarming finding, however, was that the surveyed business managers scored very low in communication capabilities. “Listens to others” and “Processes information” were considered weaknesses in two countries while “Communicates effectively” appeared once in the weaknesses list. Furthermore, Vietnamese, Filipino and Norwegian managers had at least one Communication skill in their Bottom 3 lists. The only country whose managers did not have any “Communication” skill as their weakness was Romania.
Effective communication is one of the most important keys to success in leadership and management. Many other studies have come to that same conclusion. Nonetheless, global managers still seem unable meet communication expectations. This is a pressing issue that organisations should address.
Download our full report now to find out how we identified the strengths and weaknesses of business leaders and managers of each country.