Leaders around the world: Who comes out on top?

Aug 12, 2019


Author: Adrian Chew, Principal Consultant, Peter Berry Consultancy


Globalisation and the expansion of organisations across international borders present current and future leaders with a number of opportunities and challenges. As a consultant, psychologist and coach, it’s exciting to see more and more organisations around the world investing in the use of psychometric and multi-rater feedback data as part of developing their people leaders. Having reputational data available to leaders can be tremendously helpful in understanding and narrowing down key areas to focus on for their development. In particular, the ability to benchmark a leader’s behaviour against others is a great way to consider how they differentiate themselves, especially considering how globally connected we are. Many multi-rater assessments allow leaders to compare themselves to other leaders around the world using global benchmark scores (the Hogan 360 powered by PBC does this). However, given how diverse we are country to country, culture to culture, are we missing any critical nuances that need to be considered when supporting our leaders and managers in their development?

As part of our commitment to better understanding leadership and talent, PBC recently conducted a study looking at observed leadership behaviour around the world. The study was based on data collected from 2012 – 2017 using the Hogan 360 (you can find out more about the Hogan Leadership Model on page 6 here), which consisted of over 5,600 ratings of 1,642 leaders in eight countries (Australia, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, United Kingdom, and USA). Essentially, we wanted to see if leaders around the world tended to show up in similar ways.

The Similarities


Two key themes emerged from our findings. The first was that leaders around the world are still struggling to fully demonstrate the competencies often associated with Transformational Leadership – building and maintaining relationships with others, and motivating, coaching and holding others accountable to work towards innovative and strategic business outcomes. In fact, it was in this domain of Working on the Business where we saw the least amount of variability amongst leaders.


Competencies associated with Transformational Leadership (Relationship Management and Working on the Business) were rated lowest across all countries – managers and leaders are still struggling on this front.

Secondly, but unsurprisingly, we found most leaders (particularly those in USA, UK, Australia, Japan and Singapore) were rated highest in the domain of Working in the Business – especially with regards to perceived work-ethic, industry knowledge and expertise. This seems to reflect a common phenomenon observed in so many organisations where technical expertise and operational prowess are catalysts for progression into people-management and leadership roles, with relationship management skills and the capability to motivate others being much less prevalent.


There is less variability in perceived technical ability, operational execution and optimisation of short and long-term results (Working in the Business and Working on the Business).

The Differences


We saw the most variation in leaders when it came to how resilient and emotionally intelligent they appeared. Leaders also differed significantly when it came to how invested they were in building trust and rapport with others through strong relationships. For example, we found that leaders in Mexico are more likely than others to come across as polite, respectful and able to manage their stresses well. This may be a reflection of the expectation that leaders in Mexico need to be flexible, hard-working and operate with integrity (Kowske & Anthony, 2007). In contrast, leaders from the UK appeared to have less of a focus on managing their emotions.

We also saw a lot of variability in leaders when it came to Relationship Management. Leaders from Mexico once again showed strengths in this domain, with leaders from Greece, Australia and USA also scoring relatively high. Leaders from Denmark, Japan and Singapore scored particularly low for this domain. When we investigated this further, it was interesting to find that leaders from Japan had been rated particularly low for People Skills – which included behaviours associated with being a positive role model through making others feel valued and being warm and thoughtful in their interactions with others. Considering the high in-group collectivist culture that likely exists in countries like Japan and Singapore, where duties and obligations take precedence over personal needs, this seems to make sense.


Leaders are likely to differ most with respect to perceived resilience, emotional intelligence, and the importance they place on building trust and rapport through strong relationships (Manage Self and Relationship Management).


So, knowing that there are indeed differences in what you can expect from leaders around the world, what can we do?

  • The use of standard global benchmarks can be used to provide a baseline for leaders who increasingly need to operate more globally.
  • The use of country specific benchmarks in 360 assessments can help organisations better understand how local leaders compare with each other (accounting for country-specific nuances in expected leadership behaviour).
  • By attending to these nuances and better understanding the expectations that teams, colleagues and managers have of their leaders, organisations can become more focused and prioritise relevant areas for development in their leaders.
  • We can continue to help leaders of leaders understand differences in their team’s behaviour.


You can read more about our findings on how leaders from each country scored in our whitepaper.


Notes on the Hogan 360:

  • PBC is continuing to undertake further studies in this area, which includes additional countries. This should be released later in 2019.
  • Benchmarks include but are not limited to industry, sector, job level, job category, and country of employment.
  • Customisation to organisational frameworks and competencies are available.

For more information, you can contact us via email at or by phone on 61 2 8918 0888.

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