New research from Grant Thornton reveals a stark regional split in business leadership practices. While Asia Pacific and Middle Eastern economies appear more open to the use of coaching, intuition and creativity, peers in Europe rely on more traditional practices.

Francesca Lagerberg, global leader at Grant Thornton, said: “We’ve identified two very different types of business leader in our research. In markets like Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand and UAE; leaders we call the Modernists are evident – they are open to coaching, value creativity and intuition. 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.”

Grant Thornton asked business leaders whether they use a coach, or have done so in the past, to develop their leadership skills. More than two in five businesses leaders in the UAE (40%), Latin America (43%) and Asia Pacific (41%) have used a coach. This compares to just one in four (25%) business leaders in the EU, with the North America result being level with the global average of 35%. 

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 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 74% of UAE leaders think intuition is important, compared to only 54% in the EU.

54% of business leaders in the UAE stated that the successor for their business would come from inside the organisation with only 10% coming from a competitor. The top five leadership attributes identified by leaders in the UAE were confidence (92%), ability to inspire (94%), communication (90%), integrity (92%) and a positive attitude (94%). Leaders from the UAE stated that mentoring from other senior leaders (80%) supported them in developing their own leadership skills.

Hisham Farouk, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton UAE commented: “Business leaders in the UAE have been able to observe how management techniques in the West have evolved and matured. The research shows however that rather than simply copying and replacing management techniques, they are blending them with their own cultural and management practices to adapt a 'third way' for their local market.”