Wisdom//

What the World Thinks A Good Leader Is Made Of

Turns out it depends what country you’re in.

What defines a leader? Moreover, what makes an effective leader? From interactive leadership to charisma, the traits that describe a good leader are in part determined by your location.

Kenyon news site, The Star, reports on research done by Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, exploring the attributes needed to be a good leader in today’s globally connected world, with a focus on Kenya, China, India, Egypt and Mexico. It sought to understand the differences in how leadership is developed and understood across the globe.

Three traits and one mindset emerged as the most important: honesty, intelligence, decisiveness and the possession of a ‘global mindset.’ As many of the relevant issues today are too large for one local to solve (i.e. climate change, international security, etc.) this globally aware perspective is increasingly important. An understanding of intercultural dynamics and empathy, as well as a desire for diversity, are imperative components of this global mindset.

While countries around the world value this global mindset, each place also has unique traits they admire.

Kenyans, expect leaders to exude charisma and inspiration, and to be team-oriented. The Star article also says that 77% of Kenyans feel that integrity is the most important trait of a good leader.

Charismatic leadership, however, is less popular in the Islamic Middle East and Confucian East Asia, where a more team-oriented and collaborative approach is preferred.

As “policy entrepreneurs,” Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah demonstrate effective leadership through policy change, showcased by their work creating public value through building public coalitions across jurisdictions. Kenyan Nobel peace prize winner Wangari Maathai is admired for her efforts to raise environmental awareness, too, demonstrating her global mindset by taking on the issue of climate change.

In effort to support the future leaders of Kenya, the British Council created the Future Leader Connect, a global network for upcoming policy leaders to develop leadership skills.

Learn more about the study’s findings here

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