What makes a leader stand out from his or her peers? In the past, there may have been more of an argument for different types of people taking to different leaders for “different” or intangible cultural reasons. Today, we can see that we are living in a global village and that village is only getting smaller.

So when a publication like HBR conducts a study of leaders from around the globe in order to determine which leadership traits are currently most valued around the world, it follows that people from all over the world will stand up and take notice. Here is what the study found, along with a few comments from me.

The top 10 leadership competencies fell into five areas, themed:

Strong ethics & safety. This area included the number one response, “has high ethical and moral standards” with 67% of respondents citing its importance. It also included “clearly communicates expectations,” the third ranking overall response.

Self-organizing. This category features only one of the top ten responses (#2), “provides goals and objectives with loose guidelines and direction.” It should be noted here that this leaves a lot to be done yet by the employee. People want direction but not a blueprint to get the job done.

Efficient learning. This category contains three of the top ten competencies: “has the flexibility to change opinions,” “is open to new ideas and approaches,” and “provides safety for trial and error.” The keywords for me here are flexible, open, and safety. Employees want a work environment that is open and safe.

Nurtures growth. This category displays the fact that employees are no longer worth just a paycheck. They need to be nurtured as a whole person. The two competencies from this category are, “is committed to my ongoing training,” and “helps me grow into a next-generation leader.”

Connection & belonging. This category connects to the last one in that today’s employees want their workplaces to make them better people in some way, not simply provide employment. The two competencies listed here are, “communicates often and openly,” and “creates a feeling of succeeding and failing together.”

How did you feel reading through these top 10 leadership competencies? Did many of the keywords like “open,” “flexible,” and “communication” resonate with you? Or did you have a distinct feeling that some of these areas may need work? If it’s the latter, I hope you will contact me and let me know how I can help.

photo credit: Where the ice meets the water. via photopin (license)