Senior business leaders based in Asia demonstrate team-focused leadership styles to a greater extent than their peers globally, according to research by Heidrick & Struggles, a premier provider of executive search, leadership consulting, and culture-shaping services.
Analyzing data from the firm's proprietary assessment tool, Leadership Signature, researchers at Heidrick & Struggles found that significantly greater percentages of senior executives based in Asia favor the "Energizer" and "Harmonizer" leadership styles than did senior executives as a whole globally.
The leadership advisory firm announced the findings of its research at the World Economic Forum (WEF) "Annual Meeting of the New Champions" in Tianjin. Heidrick & Struggles is a strategic partner of WEF.
"Over the past few years, globalization and disruptive technologies have changed the skills required to be an effective leader. At Heidrick & Struggles, we have moved beyond assessing leaders by their personality type and past achievements. We also look at their leadership styles, cultural fit and agility, using a data-driven, scientific approach," said Steve Mullinjer, Regional Leader of Heidrick & Struggles Asia Pacific.
"At the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is essential for leaders to understand their leadership blind spots, while further improving their leadership flexibility and agility, in order to operate effectively in a highly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world," Mullinjer said.
Top 2 leadership styles
The Energizer and Harmonizer leadership styles are two of the most team-centered among eight primary styles identified in the firm's proprietary Leadership Signature methodology:
Under the Energizer style, executives demonstrating this leadership style energize others through their personality and clear articulation of strategic vision and meaning. They inspire performance in others, bring people together toward a common purpose.
Executives using the Harmonizer style create positive environments and recognize the efforts of others. They tap into the areas of knowledge and expertise in those around them in ways that enable efficient execution.
For this study 1,440 executives currently based in Asia were compared with more than 5,900 executives globally in the Leadership Signature database.
Notably, among leaders currently based in Asia, Heidrick & Struggles found that those executives who grew up in the region showed a significantly higher tendency toward the Energizer and Harmonizer styles than those who grew up elsewhere. Executives born on other continents who are now based in Asia have a similar distribution of leadership styles as executives as a whole globally.
"Our research supports the idea that country of origin predicts, to a certain extent, how people lead," said Karen West, Partner, Global Leadership Consulting Practice at Heidrick & Struggles. "Those who were raised in Asia and currently work there are much more likely to tend toward the Harmonizer and Energizer leadership styles. To a large extent, their style of leadership reflects cultures that focus on the good of the group as opposed to individual performance."
Gender not a significant factor
Gender does not appear to be a significant factor in predicting leadership style among executives in Asia. Heidrick & Struggles found no significant difference in the distribution of leadership styles of senior executives who are male compared to their female counterparts.
"It's important to note that there is no such thing as a 'right' or 'wrong' leadership style, and in fact individuals are likely to be able to access every style to a varying degree," West said.
In addition to the analysis within the Leadership Signature database, Heidrick & struggles surveyed 311 senior executives in Asia, including 215 at Senior Vice President level or above.
The study also found that more than three-quarters (76%) of the Asian-based executives have expanded the scope or complexity of their jobs twice or more over the past five years, underscoring the region's highly dynamic business landscape.
More than one third (37%) of senior executives in Asia have moved to a different country to start a new role at least three times during their career.