How Leadership Styles Vary Around The World (Study)

ftAre you looking to work internationally in a new country and new culture? Or maybe you are looking to expand your business into a new global territory and need to hire and develop leaders in these new locations? What ever your starting point, if you are planning to work or expand your firm internationally, its vital that you know what kind of leadership style you can expect in these locations.

For example, as an aspiring overseas leader, knowing what leadership style you can expect in a new territory can help you to benchmark your own managerial style against that of the new country? Will you fit right in? Will it put you at an advantage or disadvantage? Are some countries more suited to your leadership style than others? Will you prefer countries with certain leadership styles over others?

HR and Business leaders should also be interested in understanding the respective leadership styles of countries they are looking to expand into. It can help to inform your recruitment policy, e.g. whether you go local or expatriate and it can help you to build up a leadership success profile per country which can help you to build a more nationally and culturally targeted talent attraction and management programme.

Fortunately, the question of how leadership style varies around the world has just been answered in a recent Bersin by Deloitte Study. Using data provided by SHL,they looked at over 30,000 leadership assessments from 10 countries and identified the leadership characteristics by country. These countries were: Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, India, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and US. The research looked at 8 areas of leadership, including strategy and execution.

Summary Findings: How Leadership Styles Vary Around The World (Study)

1. India and China

The leading emerging economies of China and India have excellent skills in operational execution, and are very focused on hands on management, operational execution and managing individual performance.

2.Benelux and Nordic Countries

In contrast to the emerging economies, Benelux and Nordic countries possess leaders with a focus on planning, strategy, communication and change management. This is because companies in these locations are more established, more global and thus need to bring an emphasis on common vision, values and long term thinking.

3. The US and UK

The Bersin research found that the UK and US have a more hybrid leadership model with the US tending to adopt a more ‘driving’ style like Indian leaders and having a more ‘push orientated’ approach to change management.

Although not part of the study, Bersin gave some insights of other locations and their leadership styles.


In Russia, the management style consists of one of rigorous debate, development and defense of a business case, and continuous critical examination of the ‘numbers’.

Middle East

Middle eastern countries tend to be patriarchal, which can make it more challenging for women leaders. Decisions are taken more slowly and are more autocratic.

You can download the Bersin Global Leadership Marketing Brief here:

Recommended reading for entrepreneurs

The Financial Times Guide to Business Start Up 2015: The Most Comprehensive Annually Updated Guide for Entrepreneurs (The FT Guides)


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