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Dynamic organisation chiefs lead the way

New research from Grant Thornton reveals a stark regional split in business leadership practices. While Asia Pacific and Latin American economies appear more open to the use of coaching, intuition and creativity, peers in Europe rely on more traditional practices. This split in leadership styles also closely mirrors a divergence in the proportion of women in senior positions.

Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “The research identifies two very different types of business leader. In markets like Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, leaders we call the Modernists are evident – they are open to coaching, value creativity and intuition, and are much more likely to be women – or surrounded by women in senior positions. By contrast leaders in European economies like France, Germany, Spain and the UK are so-called Traditionalists – they are far less likely to use a coach, place less value on creativity and intuition and are less likely to be women.”

Grant Thornton asked business leaders whether they use a coach, or have done so in the past, to develop their management skills. More than two in five business leaders in ASEAN (44%), Latin America (43%) and Asia Pacific (41%) have used a coach. This compares to just one in four (25%) in the EU (29% in the UK). The North America result was level with the global average of 35%.

Of the people surveyed, those that were identified as bosses of high growth dynamic businesses* stood out in their approaches to leadership.

Scott Barnes commented: "In the UK the vast majority of dynamic businesses are in the mid-market; these organisations are really driving growth in the economy. The research actually identified some recurring themes amongst leaders of these businesses. For example, a third of leaders of dynamic organisations [34%] use a coach currently compared to the global average of 24%.

"The research also found that leaders of dynamic organisations are more likely to use a range of techniques to help them grow their own leadership capabilities, such as monitoring their performance, being assessed by their broader teams, receiving mentoring from more experienced executives and developing their own peer networks, which may help them to learn from their peers about what helped them to develop their own leadership styles."

Business leaders were also asked how important they believe certain attributes are to good leadership. Globally, integrity, a positive attitude and communication came out on top but an interesting split emerges in leadership traits such as creativity and intuition, which have increased in significance relatively recently. Nine in ten ASEAN leaders and 83% of those in Latin America believe creativity is important, compared with just 57% in the EU; while 85% of ASEAN leaders think intuition is important, compared to only 54% in the EU. Leaders of dynamic organisations rated the ability to inspire as a key attribute (89%), above confidence (83%).

Scott Barnes concluded: "At Grant Thornton we believe the best decisions are a blend of reason and instinct, so it is encouraging to note that the leaders of the most dynamic organisations rate intuition and taking decisions based on gut instinct as important for good leaders."