The findings of the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communications Monitor (KLCM) have been released. The global study polled 6,509 people in 13 countries for their views on effective leadership, effective communication and the link between the two.
Signalling 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 for 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 (42% vs. 58%) 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 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,” says Rod Cartwright, Partner and Director, Ketchum’s Global Corporate and Public Affairs Practice. “Rather, our findings reveal vitally important lessons for leaders of both genders, as they continue to grapple with the ongoing leadership crisis.”
Nicola Gregson, Managing Director of Ketchum-Raad Middle East adds, “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.”
KLCM also indicates that the global leadership ‘crisis’ 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. 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.
Additionally, in line with global findings, 47% of responders in the UAE have named trustworthiness as the most important attribute for corporations, more so than financial strength (28%) and corporate social responsibility (27%).
Now in its third year, the KLCM study of 2014 has underlined the importance of the Good Leader Formula: Credible Leadership = Open Communication + Decisive Action + Personal Presence.