Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a top-ranked, global provider of executive education today released a new report, “Global Asian Leader: From Asia, For The World” – an extension of its 2018 study, “The Global Asian Leader: From Local Star to Global CXO” . The report, which revisited its 2017 data, finds a persisting imbalance in Asian leadership presence on the international scene.
Undeterred by global uncertainties, Asia economies are still projected to grow in 5.2% in 2023. Yet, despite the strong business case to develop Asian leaders who can drive regional expansion, CCL found that Asian representation in top leadership has fallen from 2017. Among the top 200 organizations, Asians comprised only 4% of executive teams in US-headquartered companies in 2022, declining from 8% in 2017. Here is the full report.
Between February and June 2022, a total of 75 regional or global leaders across 50 companies were interviewed for this research. These interviews built on the data from 119 interviews conducted in 2017. Interviewees hailed from a mix of industries, with 75% holding business roles and 25% being senior HR executives. Out of the interviewees in the report, 70% were of the Asian origin, and 25% of organizations were headquartered in Asia.
Bamboo ceiling endures even as Asia becomes the ‘center of the world’
Developing Asia economies are projected to grow 5.2% in 2023 despite global uncertainties and a sluggish economic outlook. Increasingly, global organizations will have to ‘look East’ to sustain business growth, calling upon local leaders with a nuanced understanding of social and cultural norms to drive regional expansion.
Yet, even with the strong business case to develop Asian leaders, Asian representation in top leadership has fallen from 2017. Among the top 200 organizations, Asians comprised only 4% of executive teams in US-headquartered companies in 2022, declining from 8% in 2017.
“Talent in Asia has developed tremendously across multiple leadership attributes over the last decade – however our latest research reveals an alarming trend over the last few years of decreasing representation of Asian leaders in top multi-national teams. There has never been a more important time to break the bamboo ceiling and enable Global Asian Leadership in order to better equip organizations to overcome the massive regional and global challenges we face,” said Elisa Mallis, Managing Director and Vice President of APAC, CCL.
Setting Asian leaders up for success in global roles
To override cultural hardwiring and succeed in global roles, CCL identified five must-have traits that Asian leaders must demonstrate – courage, curiosity, trust, an ability to influence decisions, and strategic thinking. Asian leaders have made significant progress in all these areas over the past five years. Strategic thinking, for instance, was one area that Asian leaders showed notable improvement in, scoring 3.82 – up from 3.74 in 2017.
However, while there are several success stories of Asian leaders successfully stepping into regional or global roles, organizations need to step up initiatives to scale up Asian leader development in a structured manner. The report outlines a five-step action plan for aspiring global Asian leaders, along with organizational shifts needed to build a diverse leadership pipeline.
“Business in Asia is dynamic, fast and intense. Leaders need to keep working on decision making under pressure and be ready to adjust, setting the organisation’s path forward with the right balance of strategic thinking, courage, confidence, and risk awareness. At Swiss Re, we believe in continually investing in our leaders as we recognise these attributes are instrumental in propelling the organisation’s growth in Asia and globally,” said Paul Murray, Regional President and CEO Reinsurance Asia, Swiss Re.
For more information and to download the report, visit this link.
About Center for Creative Leadership
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)® is a top-ranked, global, nonprofit provider of leadership development. Over the past 50 years, we’ve worked with organizations of all sizes from around the world, including more than 2/3 of the Fortune 1000. Our cutting-edge solutions are steeped in extensive research and our work with hundreds of thousands of leaders at all levels. To learn more visit ccl.org.
 Data collected in 2017