The different managers agreed on three bread-and-butter characteristics that all good leaders need: ability to handle crises; decisiveness; and ability to motivate others. None of them considered being charismatic or inspirational to be critical components of leadership. One big difference was that the French leaders alone listed political skills and network strength as crucial.
This may reflect the fact that there is still an elite in France educated in prestigious institutions such as the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, which has produced seven out of ten prime ministers of France. The power of an old boy's network is less evident in the UK probably because there are far more foreign owners of companies who have less understanding of old ties and who judge people by their performance only. The British leaders identified vision, and honesty and integrity as two qualities needed. Honesty was less about ethics and more about trust. Without it, some British managers said, their teams or customers would leave. The French were critical of British decision-making, regarding it as "shambolic, unreliable and lacking in intellectual rigour". The French valued clarity, certainty, precision and order; the British valued ambiguity and flexibility.
Leadership: The British versus the French
By Jo Owen
Ebfonline.com, July 2007