How do leadership and behavioural skills vary around the world? Debra J Cohen and Lisbeth Claus take a closer look
Society and business have become global, with companies operating in multiple countries. With a global culture comes a need for a new type of leadership. A global workforce requires leaders to be able to work in cultures different from their own. What makes a leader an effective one for a multinational company? To explore effective global leadership, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in conjunction with the SHRM Global Forum, conducted a survey of HR professionals throughout the world.
As globalisation among businesses continues to increase in both scope and depth, many organisations have begun to concentrate on the type of leadership skills needed to effectively manage, build and sustain them. But are certain leadership behaviours or skills viewed with the same level of importance around the world? If companies around the world are to recruit, retain and develop leaders, it is helpful to know if there are any common denominators of importance or noteworthy differences from region to region.
Effective leadership styles are likely to vary between cultures and countries. All leaders and managers need to influence behaviour and add value to their organisations, but how they accomplish this may vary. Similarly, all organisations must recruit, retain and develop this talent. One purpose of this study was to investigate what organisations around the world value in terms of leadership behaviours and skills.
Respondents were randomly-drawn members from SHRM and the SHRM Global Forum. A survey link was e-mailed to 1,898 participants. A total of 426 participants working in 52 countries responded -a response rate of 22 per cent. The SHRM Global Forum's Thought Leadership Committee and the SHRM Survey Program jointly developed the survey instrument.
The first analysis was a simple comparison of where the headquarters of the organisation are located (inside the US vs. outside the US); results are depicted in Table 1. Character and performance were the top two characteristics identified by the respondents.
Performance was rated first by respondents located in organisations where the headquarters are outside the US, whereas character was identified first in organisations headquartered in the US. Adaptability was rated important by both US