Eastern Europe in crisis: the personalities of corporate leaders is hindering economic recovery

The risks and advantages of leadership attitude are apparent on a macro level. The personalities of leaders create a culture of risky behaviour and confrontation under stress, which may lead to failure in a difficult economic situation. Are there any leadership personality differences?

The typical stress-handling method of Hungarian corporate leaders can ruin rather than help the corporation, Assessment Systems International’s regional survey reveals. The survey examined the personality and values of a thousand leaders in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania. According to Zsolt Fehér, CEO of Assessment Systems International, leaders in the neighbouring countries tend to create a corporate culture of oppression, risky behaviour and confrontation under stress, which may lead to failure in a difficult economic situation. Leaders of the Czech Republic can be considered as exceptions because the risk of explosive behaviour is lower due to their introverted personality. The distinct characteristics which serve as a basic strength in critical situations are easily identified. Hungarian leaders build on strategic thinking, employee motivation and minimizing loss in order to successfully increase the efficiency of their corporation and thus contribute to the recovery of the country from the economic crisis on a macro level.

Although in everyday life Hungarian managers and top leaders meet the expectations of having exemplary leadership skills and being determined, balanced, goal-oriented and co-operative, according to Assessment Systems International’s expert. However, crises or periods of overload may cause Hungarian managers and senior leaders to make the wrong decisions from an economic perspective due to their personalities.

“Hungarian managers are inclined to put their own needs first and, at the same time, to suppress others. Furthermore, they take on too much risk or pile up unfinished ideas and ignore the suggestions of others. When faced with long-lasting periods of stress and critical choices, the result is a series of conflicts which can lead to derailing the leader”, Zsolt Fehér describes the Hungarian situation. “Sadly, this is not the worst scenario. The situation generated by the condition of stressed-out leaders and the lack of a supportive atmosphere can make it impossible for whole teams or business units to work properly, and the impact of such executive-level damage can ruin the whole company.”

The way leaders manage stress in Hungary shows similarity with Romania and, to a lesser percentage, with Slovakia among the surveyed countries. “The Czechs, by contrast, should be able to start economic recovery with better chances and earlier than the others as their leaders are more cautious and reserved in stressful situations than the average Czech citizen”, according to the expert. “At the same time, the average Czech leader is more sensitive and emotional than the leaders of the other surveyed countries, and that is a factor we have to pay special attention to when we meet him as a client or co-worker.”

The results of the regional survey also show that the Hungarian leaders are the most ambitious compared to the average of the population, which means they are more competitive, more determined and more result-oriented than the Czechs, Slovakians and Romanians compared to their own national average. The calmest and at the same time the most persistent are the Hungarians and Romanians. Considering the learning approach, the Hungarian leaders slightly surpass the Romanians and Slovakians, but the leaders of each of these three countries value knowledge and develop themselves more actively than the average. The Czech leader is the exception again: his learning approach is not different from the Czech average at all. The situation is similar in the social life at the workplace as well: while Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian leaders are more sociable than the average, Czech leaders are inclined to be more introverted even in stress-free situations. In terms of financial needs and status Romanian leaders are more focused on achieving power than the average while they consider traditions to be of great importance. The most characteristic feature of the Hungarians is the profit orientation which pairs with altruism. For the Czech and Slovakian leaders the most important motivational factor is security.

The most unique feature of Hungarians in the region is their above-average inquisitiveness and sociability. The Hungarian leader won’t get stuck in small problems, but focuses on the future and on reaching goals, while he has good affinity for building on the strengths of others. “Also it is important to highlight that Hungarian leaders are highly profit-oriented: while his own allowance is of key importance to him, he can strongly represent the company’s financial interest”, said Zsolt Fehér, summing up the national results. “Consequently, he will have done his job well – and this is exponentially true in critical situations –, if there is a stress-relieving, supporting background and if he is motivated financially as well. Based on all this information we have learnt what value a skilled Hungarian leader can add to a corporation: growing productivity that can be considered as a regional competitive advantage for Hungary.”

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