Sep 182014

Which countries have the most promising crops of leaders coming up through the ranks today, and where in the world are there more young people likely to develop into business leaders tomorrow? And how can leadership be measured at all? SHL, a U.K.-based talent management consulting firm, released a study in 2012 that aims to provide answers to those questions.

SHL is a giant in the world of employee assessments, with more than 10,000 clients in over 100 countries. It offers services to consultancies like Deloitte and KPMG, multinationals like Unilever and organizations like the United Nations and the European Personnel Selection Office.

Ranking Effective Leaders Today Potential
Leaders of Tomorrow
Ranking change
between leaders for today and leaders for tomorrow
1-25 Country %  Country %   ↑or↓
1 Hong Kong 14% Mexico 54% 21↑
2 Germany 13% Turkey 50% 16↑
3 United Kingdom 10% Egypt 44%  New entry
4 Australia ∞ 10% Switzerland 43% 2↑
5 United States 10% Brazil 42% 19↑
6 Switzerland 10% India 41% New entry
7 Canada 10% Italy 41% 10↑
8 Japan∞ 9% United States 41% 3↓
9 Singapore ∞ 9% Germany 40% 7↓
10 New Zealand ∞ 8% Netherlands 40% New entry
11 Sweden 7% Taiwan 39% 1↑
12 Taiwan ∞ 7% United Arab Emirates 39% 9↑
13 France∞ 7% Denmark 39% 10↑
14 Thailand 7% Sweden 37% 3↓
15 Finland ∞ 7% Portugal 37% New entry
16 Belgium ∞ 7% Russia 37% New entry
17 Spain 6% Spain 37% No change
18 Turkey 6% Ireland 37% New entry
19 Italy 6% Indonesia 37% New entry
20 South Africa ∞ 6% China (Hong Kong) 37% 19↓
21 United Arab Emirates 6% United Kingdom 37% 18↓
22 Mexico 6% Norway 36% 3↑
23 Denmark 5% Poland 35% New entry
24 Brazil 5% Canada 35% 16↓
25 Norway 5% China (Mainland) 34% New entry
∞ Indicates those counties ranked in the top 25 leaders today that fall out of the top 25 for leadership potential tomorrow
“New entry” = countries not ranked in the top 25 today but listed in the top 25 for leadership potential tomorrow

This year, executives at SHL decided to mine data from past employee assessments and try to shed some light on the leadership potential in the many countries where it works. The SHL data came from 1.05 million client surveys gathered between 2006 and 2011. It focused on eight different skill areas to measure leadership capability: initiating activity and deciding, supporting and cooperating, interacting with and presenting to others, analyzing and interpreting data, creating and conceptualizing ideas, organizing and executing plans, adapting and coping with others, and finally, performing and achieving.

In September 2012, SHL published a list of the countries it believes have the greatest percentage of effective leaders, and those that it sees as most likely to develop leaders within the next three to five years. The list of current leaders may not be that surprising. The report ranks the country with the most leaders today as Hong Kong (treated as a separate country, though it is a special administrative region of mainland China), followed by Germany, the U.K., Australia, U.S.A., Canada and Switzerland.

The country that emerges as that with the most future leaders is… Mexico. According to SHL, Mexico’s “market is becoming more international and its leaders are strengthening in several different categories.”

This is an interesting analysis, but only time will tell whether or not it holds much validity!


  4 Responses to “Global survey shows Mexico emerging as the country with the most future business leaders”

  1. I think it refers to business leaders not Leaders.

  2. In a way this is not surprising. Just look at the number of technical colleges and universities that have arisen in the last few decades and the influx of new industries in places like Guanajuato. Others place the slowdown in US migration to economic slowdown in the US but take into account the increased job and educational opportunities in Mexico. And of course, Mexico’s biggest asset – lots of young people. Now if just the judiciary could catch up – what a future!!!

  3. Good point; I’ve added a couple of qualifiers to the post; thanks!

  4. Alan, Thanks for your insightful comment – as always, spot on! Mexico certainly has some bright, rapidly-growing spots such as Guanajuato and Querétaro, but it remains to be seen whether (economic) advances in those areas will eventually bring any benefits to the rest of Mexico.

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