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Global leadership crisis continues to damage bottom line

May 27, 2014 10:35 am

Women leaders are performing far better than men on almost every one of the key attributes identified as being the most critical to effective leadership, by the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM), a global study which polled 6,509 people in 13 countries across five continents for their views on effective leadership, effective communication and the link between the two.

Signaling the rise of a new ‘feminine’ model for leadership communication, the research found that female leaders globally came out comfortably ahead on all of the top-five most crucial traits of effective leadership.

In the UAE, these global findings are mirrored in all cases except ‘leading by example’. Female leaders were voted higher in key leadership attributes; communicating in an open and transparent way (61% female leaders vs. 39% male leaders), bringing out the best in others (56% vs. 44%), and admitting mistakes (61% vs. 39%).

The trend has not yet overturned the feeling that male leaders are better in a crisis with – handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently scoring 42% female vs. 58% male in the UAE – showing a wider gap than the global average of 48% vs. 52%. However, and most likely due to the historical political and cultural landscape in the UAE 63% rate male leaders (higher than the global average of 54%) as most likely to navigate us through challenging and rapidly changing times over the next five years.

“This is not to say that all future leaders should be women and that men have no place in leadership. Rather our findings reveal vitally important lessons for leaders of both genders, as they continue to grapple with the ongoing leadership crisis,” commented Rod Cartwright, partner and director of Ketchum’s Global Corporate & Public Affairs Practice.

Nicola Gregson, Managing Director of Ketchum-Raad Middle East said, “This research is finally putting to rest the flawed assumption that women need to come across as aggressive, vocal or dominant leaders to make their mark. Given that many perceive this region as having mainly male dominated leadership, it is interesting to see the UAE following a global trend citing the future of leadership communication as more “feminine”. We are seeing the birth and acceptance of a new model of leadership communication based on transparency, collaboration, genuine dialogue, clear values and the alignment of words and deeds, a model being followed far more consistently by female leaders.”

The Global Leadership ‘Crisis’ Continues but confidence in business leaders remains higher in the UAE
KLCM also indicates that the global leadership ‘crisis’ stubbornly persists, as consumers continue to be disillusioned with their leaders. Looking at leaders across sectors only 22% of those surveyed feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from 25% last year – with just 13% scoring leaders strongly on accountability when things go wrong.

However faith in business leaders is growing in the UAE with 31% of responders (up from 28% in 2013) choosing business leaders as demonstrating the most effective leadership – higher than any other sector leaders. About half (45%) feel that business leaders are effective communicators, higher than the global average of 35%. In total, 88 % of responders in the UAE have the same or more confidence in business leaders than in 2013.

This is ahead of current sentiment in western markets, with only 14% of responders in France and Spain citing business leaders as demonstrating effective leadership. However, a general upward trend is expected in-line with stronger economic growth and stability. India holds the most faith in business leaders with 53% of responders citing them as demonstrating the most effective leadership.

In terms of what makes an effective leader, 77% of people in the UAE, comparable to the 74% globally say that effective communications is very important to great leadership (8-10 out of 10), and 41% rate it 10 out of 10 in importance.

Tech savvy UAE residents’ rate technology sector as displaying the best leadership with strong innovation a key component in the decision
Unsurprisingly in a country with the highest level of smartphone ownership (73%) in the world, the UAE voted technology firms as displaying the most effective leadership with 60%, followed by banks 46% and telecommunications 43%.

Innovation leadership has a strong influence on leadership in technology, rated as the top characteristic with 63% followed by quality products and services 47%. In addition, technology firms (54%) also rated highest for effective communication, an attribute seen as essential to great leadership as agreed by 77% of respondents in the UAE.

Trustworthiness is absolute premium for companies to be seen as leaders
In line with global findings, 47% of responders in the UAE named trustworthiness as the most important attribute for corporations to be seen as leaders, more so than financial strength (28%) and corporate social responsibility (27%).

The KLCM Global Disillusionment Index and Global Industry Leadership Index
This year marks the launch of two new global indices based on KLCM’s findings. These benchmarks examine how ‘disillusioned’ consumers are with their leaders on a country-by-country level as well as which industries are the most respected.

The KLCM Global Disillusionment Index pooled all of the global data collected across leadership, communication, confidence in leaders, accountability, meeting expectations and values on a country-by-country basis. Indeed, only 10% of Europeans have more confidence that leaders will provide effective leadership in 2014. Compare this to 33% in India, 21% in the UAE and 31% in China who have more confidence in leaders.

Looking at leadership from an industry perspective and combining data on leadership, communication, accountability and meeting expectations, the KLCM Global Industry Leadership Index shows that the technology industry ranked top on every measure, with banking rounding out the bottom of the list.

Ketchum polled 6,509 people in 13 countries worldwide on their perceptions of effective leadership, effective communication and the intrinsic link between the two. Now in its third year, this year’s study underlines the importance of the Good Leader Formula:

Credible Leadership = Open Communication + Decisive Action + Personal Presence

Visit http://www.ketchum.com/leadership-communication-monitor-2014 for additional survey information and materials.