The Spark Blog

An occasional series of thoughts and reflections on the role of narrative in organizational change, branding and knowledge work

Attributes of leadership

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We’ve been reading the Salz Review – Anthony Salz’s review of Barclay’s business practices, which was released last week. It’s of great interest to us in the light of the ethical auditing approach we’ve been developing. It contains a useful survey of the literature on corporate culture.

One of the sources on which it draws is Leadership, Culture and Organisations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies, 2004 by Robert J. House et al. GLOBE studied culture in 62 societies and three global industries (financial services, telecoms and food), and identified seven attributes of good leadership that stood the test across all 62 societies:

  • Integrity – good leaders can be trusted.
  • Generosity – good leaders are helpful.
  • Fairness – good leaders are just and equitable.
  • Diplomatic – good leaders handle conflict well.
  • Decisiveness – good leaders make sound and timely judgments.
  • Competence – good leaders contribute to the company performance.
  • Vision – good leaders articulate a desirable future.


photo | Eneas

The study also identified eight universally undesirable attributes in leaders, including being ruthless, a loner, egocentric and dictatorial. Other attributes were more culturally contingent, for example respondents from different countries reacted differently to ‘being ambitious’.

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