What is the Preferred Leadership Style in Various Countries?

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Jacqueline Ingabire
Project Manager, Canada

What is the Preferred Leadership Style in Various Countries?

Greetings. Could anyone let me know what is the best leadership? Which kinds of leaderships are appropriate to the following parts of the world:
1. USA
2. Canada
3. Mexico
4. African countries in general?
Thank you for your reply.


Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Preferred Leadership Style per Country

Good question! The question sounds simple, the answer definitely isn't…
First of all, you should realize that there can be 2 sides of the coin if the leader and followers don't share the same cultural background (i.e. they are from different countries). Also the answer could be different for country leaders (Presidents) than for corporate leaders (CEOs).

To answer your question you might start by taking a look at the work of Geert Hofstede ("Cultural Dimensions") and more recently of GLOBE.

GLOBE is an organization dedicated to the international study of the relationships among societal culture, leadership and organizational practices. With more than 200 researchers from 62 countries studying more than 17,000 mid-level managers in the initial phases, the 2004 study is the largest and most prestigious study of its kind in the social sciences. In the latest 2014 study, more than 70 researchers collected data from over 100 CEOs and 5,000 senior executives in corporations in a variety of industries in 24 countries. This study demonstrated the considerable influence of culture on societal leadership expectations and the importance of matching CEO behaviors to expectations for leadership effectiveness.

GLOBE interviewed international managers about 112 behavioral and attribute descriptors (e.g. “diplomatic”, “inspiring” etc.) and whether these were thought to contribute to, or impede, outstanding leadership. These were combined to 6 “global leadership dimensions”:

  1. Charismatic/Value-Based Leadership: The ability to inspire, motivate, and expect high performance outcomes from others based on firmly held core values. Includes 6 primary leadership dimensions: (a) visionary, (b) inspirational, (c) self-sacrifice, (d) integrity, (e) decisive and (f) performance oriented.
  2. Team-Oriented Leadership: Emphasizes effective team building and implementation of a common purpose or goal among team members. Includes 5 primary leadership dimensions: (a) collaborative team orientation, (b) team integrator, (c) diplomatic, (d) benevolent, and (e) administratively competent.
  3. Participative Leadership: Reflects the degree to which managers involve others in making and implementing decisions. Includes 2 primary leadership dimensions: (a) participative and (b) non-autocratic/non-dictatorial.
  4. Humane-Oriented Leadership: Reflects supportive and considerate leadership and includes compassion and generosity, i.e. the following 2 primary dimensions: (a) modesty and (b) humane orientation.
  5. Autonomous Leadership: Refers to independent and individualistic leadership attributes. It is measured by a single primary leadership dimension: autonomous leadership, consisting of individualistic, independence, autonomous, and unique attributes.
  6. Self-Protective Leadership: Focuses on ensuring the safety and security of the individual and group through status enhancement and face saving. It includes five primary leadership dimensions: (a) self-centered, (b) status conscious, (c) conflict inducer, (d) face saver, and (e) procedural.

Quite surprisingly, the 2014 results showed strong universal preferences for the first 3 of the 6 leadership styles: charismatic, team-oriented, and participative leadership. More details of results.

Of course there are other factors contributing to the preferred leadership style than the country of origin. In particular a situation of crisis (e.g. war) is different from normal circumstances. A few years ago, during the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, we have seen many "strong leaders" coming to power in several countries, including the US, Russia, Turkey and China.

There is a 2014 book by Robert J. House, Peter W. Dorfman, Mansour Javidan, Paul J. Hanges and Mary F. Sully de Luque describing the GLOBE results: "Strategic Leadership Across Cultures: The GLOBE Study of CEO Leadership Behavior and Effectiveness in 24 Countries".

More information: GLOBE website. As far as African Leadership is concerned, take a look at EPIC ADVISERS.

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