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Leadership Styles around the World



Across the globe there are a wide variety of differing leadership styles. Each individual region possesses its own idiosyncrasies culturally, and naturally that is reflected in the way in which people lead and manage a team. From autocratic management to egalitarian, we explore the overriding philosophies that dictate leadership styles in various countries across the globe.

UK & Ireland


The management style of the UK and Ireland is typically seen as casual leadership. Managers are both diplomatic, helpful, and willing to compromise, while simultaneously are capable of being be ruthless when necessary. Traditional beliefs are central to this management style, however, which can result in a failure to comprehend differing values in others.



Try not to imagine Gordon Gecko when we describe the atypical American leadership style. Managers in the USA tend to be assertive, aggressive, and goal oriented. They are very confident, and optimistic and tend to immerse themselves in the spirit of teamwork. Many American managers value individual freedom highly, and can focus primarily on advancing their own career objectives than those of their teams.



The French are often regarded as a passionate people, and this is reflected in their leadership style. French managers tend to be autocratic and authoritarian, who focus on the big picture, looking at issues facing the company before dealing with issues related to their staff. In an ‘Autocratic Management’ model the opinions of entry-level staff and even experienced middle managers tend to be dismissed.



The German leadership style combines two seemingly immiscible elements, a focus on hierarchy and also on achieving consensus. German managers believe in a clear chain of command with instructions and information being passed down from the top. Despite this seemingly hierarchical structure, a strong focus is placed on consensus.



The Spanish leadership model is very similar to the French, except for one crucial element. While both countries managers are typically autocratic and charismatic, the Spaniards tend to believe less in the French insistence on logic, but rather rely on their own intuition. Spanish managers have a tendency to derive pride from their own personal influence on their staff members.



‘Primus Inter Pares’ can be used to describe the Swedish management style, which translates from Latin to ‘First among Equals’. The Swedish management system, much like their political system, is decentralised and democratic. The central belief in the ‘Primus Inter Pares’ model is that employees who are better informed are more motivated to do their jobs well, and as a result perform better. While this model is conducive to good work, it does however suffer from the fact that decisions can be delayed.



The Norwegian management method is quite democratic, in that the manager is in the centre of the action. Employees enjoy easy access to their manager, who guides policy and productivity, while also listening to the issues raised. Opinions tend to be heard and acted upon in egalitarian fashion, and top executives rarely abandon responsibility and accountability.



The Finnish management system differs slightly from its Scandinavian counterpart Norway. In Finland leaders tend to exercise control from a position just outside and above the ring of middle managers, who make day to day decisions. The top executives come decisive when it comes down to the line, and are not afraid to open up to staff on the bottom rung help out in a time of crisis.

East Asia


Many East Asian countries tend to conform to the Confucian hierarchy of leadership. Confucianism also stresses the importance of relationships and respect for elders, in the workplace case, upper management and experienced staff.



Applying the principles of the Confucian hierarchy, Japanese top executives tend to have great power but very little involvement in the everyday affairs of the company. The leadership system, known as the ‘ringi-sho consensus’, ensures that the executive role is more focused on leadership, innovation and the expansion of the company, rather than on the day to day mechanics.

Of course all of the above examples are quite general, and it is perfectly possible to have a ringi-sho consensus style management policy in Britain for example, or indeed for a casual leadership model to exist in Japan. Today’s blog post simply opens up the eyes to all of the varying, equally successful, leadership styles that exist in the world.

At the Brighton School of Business and Management we provide leadership training to our distance learning students, giving them the ability to learn and apply essential business management theories and models to all workplace sectors. With a knowledge of varying global leadership styles, students can take on their roles and better understand differing leadership styles in our increasingly connected world.

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