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54 Key Leadership Statistics in 2022: Traits, Diversity & COVID-19 Impact

One of the most studied and discussed topics in the past decades is leadership. The reason for this is outright compelling: businesses and organizations primarily depend on their leaders for guidance and inspiration. People rely on their leaders for those crucial, timely decisions that can spell the difference between relevance and impertinence, success and failure, as well as survival and extinction.

There are a handful of definitions of what leadership is. But many would agree that it pertains to a leader’s ability to make his or her followers voluntarily perform worthwhile action. People are also interested in knowing whether leaders are self-made or naturally born. Aside from that, many are very keen on knowing facts and figures about leadership, especially in today’s COVID-19-plagued world. With these things in mind, this post was prepared based on the latest leadership statistics.

leadership statistics - infographic

Leadership during COVID-19 Pandemic Statistics

Leaders must take responsibility and should be visible and reachable in times of crisis. By doing so, they clearly show their accountability with the decisions and actions they make. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, government and organizational leaders should also manifest prudence, right timing, resilience, and stability. And since there’s still no clear sign when the crisis will end, leaders must continue doing so for the long haul.

  • In a pandemic, scientific and public health experts remain more trusted by the public than non-health leaders. (Kye & Hwang, 2020)
  • 69% of Americans preferred the public health/scientific leadership to lead the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while only 14% wanted the political leadership to do so. (McFadden et al., 2020)
  • Some of the most successful COVID-19 responses, which include lower mortality rates at around 1% (the global average is 5%), were made by governments led by women leaders, namely, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, and Germany. (ScoopWhoop, 2020)
  • New Zealand President Ardern’s exemplary COVID-19 response, which basically involved swift, early lockdown, had been hailed worldwide. To date, the country had less than 2,000 cases and only 25 deaths due to COVID-19. (North, 2020)
  • The German President’s science-based response enabled her country to process as many as 100,000 tests per week as early as mid-March 2020. (Cohen & Kupferschmidt, 2020)
  • Other countries like South Korea didn’t use extreme measures to fight the virus. Rather, the country’s leaders resorted to highly-systematic testing programs with isolation/tracing/quarantine measures. From late February to mid-March, its 909 COVID-19 cases plunged to 74. (Kye & Hwang, 2020)
  • Among private organizations, digital expertise became 25% more crucial for leaders who respond to the pandemic. (DDI, 2021)

Source: McFadden et al. (2020)

Leadership in crisis

  • Former US President Trump is considered to have given one of the worst leaderships during the pandemic. He has shown that scientific ignorance and the simple lack of care can be fatal, especially if it starts with the highest position of the most powerful country on the planet. (Scientific American, 2020)
  • Trump’s overly late response to the pandemic and disregard for science—from injecting disinfectant to dismissing COVID as even weaker than the seasonal flu—had resulted in over 29 million cases and over 530,000 deaths as of March 2021. (Worldometer, 2021)
  • From June to October 2020, the US death rate of 32.4 per 100,000 is over 4 times more than that of Belgium (7.2/100,000), more than 5 times more than France’s (5.7/100,000), and around 8 times that of Italy (4.1/100,000). (Insider, 2020)
  • Instead of hand-washing measures, the Brazilian President embraced a hands-off approach, like discouraging Brazilians to follow WHO-sanctioned health measures. By March 2021, the country has recorded a total of 11,019,344 cases, with 265,500 deaths. (Worldometer, 2021)
  • The Chinese President had forced over 50 million people in Hubei province to stay at home. (Cohen & Kupferschmidt, 2020)
  • Business organizations are more trusted than government in 18 out of 27 countries. (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2021)

Source: Insider (2020)

These statistics indicate that good leadership during a global health crisis entails surrendering the issue to the real experts on the matter—the health and scientific authorities. However, it does not mean totally stepping aside from the situation. Rather, it means leveraging medical professionals’ knowledge and skills for the good and safety of many, which only a true leader knows.

Top Leadership Qualities Statistics

So what makes a good leader? Are the most admired leadership traits timeless or only bound by time? Nonetheless, there are qualities like integrity, passion, courage, humility, and empathy that are indeed timeless. But in today’s unpredictable global environment, the ante has been upped. Here are a few of the current leadership traits that both leaders and followers look for at present.

  • On the one hand, 3 in 4 employees consider effective, transparent communication as the most important characteristic any leader should have. (Jouany & Martic, 2021)
  • Conversely, 60% of C-level executives cited that today’s leaders should have crisis preparedness to ensure an organization’s survival of any eventuality. (Deloitte, 2021)
  • According to a survey, every leader should possess a number of soft skills such as empathy (17%), humility (15%), self-awareness (7%), and ability to listen (7%). (Morris, 2019)
  • A good leader should be appreciative of his followers, as over 35% of employees cited their need for more recognition from their superiors. (Achievers, 2020)
  • Having a clear sense of purpose is crucial for 82% of organizational leaders. However, only 42% have reported that their organization’s purpose statements actually deliver reports. (McKinsey, 2020)
  • In highly devastating situations like a pandemic, a good leader must demonstrate firm hopefulness, especially in conveying the message of hope that things will get better soon. In a recent survey, 76% of leaders of top global organizations anticipate that global economic growth will be better within the next 12 months. (PwC, 2021)

Historically, leading an organization has been about ensuring legal compliance and setting direction. Today, good leadership means preparing the organization for the unpredictable future, which entails mentoring, promoting teamwork, and advancing the members’ capability to quickly learn and adapt.

top leadership traits

Business Leadership Statistics

As a new normal has engulfed the entire world, the same is true with how businesses and industries will be operating in the new market environment. Of course, business leaders will be at the helm to head this significant shift.

  • In the post-pandemic workplace, almost half (47%) of business leaders are planning to concentrate on various scenarios as companies move forward in the new normal. Some (17%) will be focusing on unlikely, high-impact occurrences, while others (32%) will concentrate on possible, additional events. (Deloitte, 2021)
  • 86% of people expect business leaders to lead them on societal problems that affect them, more than public leaders. (Edelman, 2021)
  • Traditional leadership is being replaced. Modern leaders use mentoring, connection, and employee recognition to inspire 86% more great work. (O.C. Tanner, 2021)
  • In fact, 68% of people think that business leaders should take over when their governments fail to address societal issues. (Edelman, 2021)
  • 81% of modern leaders belong to organizations where every member sees him/herself as a leader. (O.C. Tanner, 2021)
  • Employees experience a 57% decrease in burnout when their leaders connect them with their organizations’ accomplishments, purpose, and with their colleagues. (O.C. Tanner, 2021)
  • Meanwhile, before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 219 CEOs resigned in January 2020, up by 40% versus the year before. (Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 2020)
  • Most of the time, outsiders take the place of the vacated CEO post. For instance, from 198 CEO vacancies, 107 were outsiders, while 91 came from within the organizations. (Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 2020)

In times of crisis, leaders are not only tasked to stir their organizations in the right direction. An effective business leader must also have the foresight to identify and cultivate potential within the organization to help with the huge tasks at hand.

Source: Deloitte's 2021 Global Human Capital Trends

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Leadership Statistics

Numerous studies have found that socially diverse organizations are far more innovative compared to organizations composed of homogenous people. In other words, working with individuals of different ethnicities, genders, etc. tend to make employees become smarter, more industrious, and creative.

Here are a few notable leadership statistics on workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • Studies indicate that companies with above-average diversity generated a larger share of the revenue from innovation (45%) compared to those with low diversity (26%). Ultimately, this translated into a more robust financial performance overall. (Levine & Thought Leaders, 2020)
  • In addition, a study found that 86% of female millennials consider employer policy on diversity and workforce inclusion as important. (PwC, 2021)
  • Another study found that among today’s CEOs, 42% say diversity and inclusion is very important, 32% think it is somewhat important, while only 10% see it has no value whatsoever. (Coqual, 2020)
  • However, 71% feel that while organizations talk about diversity, opportunities are not really equal for all. (PwC, 2021)

diversity and inclusion in corporations

State of Diversity in US Organizations

  • However, diversity in Corporate America remains dismal. For instance, the most number of black CEOs in Fortune 500 companies was 6. That was in 2012. Today, there are only 4, or less than 1%. (Sahadi, 2020)
  • A business watchdog found that among Fortune 100 firms for 2020, there are only 3% of CEOs, 3% of division heads, and 1% of CFOs who are black. (Stanford Corporate Governance Research Initiative, 2020)
  • Meanwhile, among all top executives at Fortune 500 firms, 3.4% are Latin Americans, 2.4% are Asians, and 1% are black. (Zweigenhaft, 2021)
  • In terms of sexual identity, a number of high-profile names have started to come out. For instance, way back in 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook was the very first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO to reveal his sexual orientation. (Zweigenhaft, 2021)

These data points indicate why organizational leaders who are able to leverage the immense possibilities that diverse teams offer tend to have more successful organizations.

Female Leadership Statistics

For the longest time, the entire world, even in business, had been dominated by men. But things are about to change as the gender gap in leadership continues to close, although in a gradual manner. Here are some key statistics on female leadership:

  • The share of women-owned businesses represent has skyrocketed from only 4.6% in 1972 to 42% in 2019. (American Express, 2019)
  • Likewise, the number of women-owned businesses increased to almost 13 million in 2019, up by 21% since 2014. (American Express, 2019)
  • While all American businesses increased by 9%, the number of women-owned companies grew faster by 21%. (American Express, 2019)
  • In 2020, there are 12.3 million businesses in the US that female entrepreneurs own, which create $1.8 trillion in revenues annually. (Shepherd, 2020)
  • Meanwhile, among all US companies, American women control more than $10 trillion in US household financial assets and this figure is expected to triple within 10 years. (Bloomberg, 2020)
  • In terms of spending power, women control more than $31.8 trillion worldwide. (Catalyst, 2020)
  • However, due to the pandemic, 30% of women-owned businesses were forced to temporarily stop operations, compared to 17% of companies owned by men. (Facebook/OECD/World Bank, 2020)

Female Power in the Boardroom

  • In terms of diversity, however, only one female black CEO had ever led a Fortune 100 company. From 2009 to 2016, Ursula Burns was CEO of Xerox. (Yurkevich, 2020)
  • Nonetheless, women make up 25% of C-level executives at the top 1000 US companies (by revenue). (Korn Ferry, 2019)
  • Likewise, in 2019, almost 40% of board openings at the top 100 public companies went to women in 2019. (FOEW, 2020)
  • By 2030, American women are forecast to control the majority of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will have. (McKinsey, 2020)

Various small business statistics indicate that women-owned SMBs are among the most seriously affected by the pandemic. Nonetheless, as economic activities are expected to improve due to the recent passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief program, these women-owned small businesses will likely rebound soon.

Source: American Express (2019)

Poor Leadership Statistics

As the saying goes: employees simply don’t leave their jobs, they quit because of their manager. Second-rate business leaders cause low employee engagement, which, in turn, results in poor business outcomes.

  • Due to the pandemic, the credibility of business leaders is at a historical low in some countries, such as 22% in France and 18% in Japan. (Edelman, 2021)
  • Meanwhile, businesses with engaged employees tend to achieve 147% higher earnings per share on average. However, only 30% of American employees have been found to be engaged. (Hanes, 2020)
  • In politics, many consider former President Donald Trump as the worst American President ever. Among his numerous failures perpetuated during his four-year tenure, these three stand out: he was the only president to be impeached twice, used the office for personal financial gain, and had broken his Constitutional oath in innumerable instances for his political needs. (Naftali, 2021)

employees' view of their boss

From Employees’ Point-of-View

  • 75% of respondent employees in a survey reported that their immediate superior is the most stressful part of their job. (McKinsey, 2020)
  • Another study found that 76% of employees describe their bosses as “toxic,” and that they would trust some they don’t know more than their superiors. (ZenBusiness, 2020)
  • Moreover, only 1 in 5 employees say their leader always assumes an active role in assisting employees to improve and achieve their full potential. (LeadershipIQ, 2020)
  • In another study, only 27% of employees say their company leaders always encourage and recognize their suggestions for improvement. (LeadershipIQ, 2020)
  • Likewise, only around 1 in every 3 employees thinks their leader is always open to using ideas/practices from outside the organization for enhancing performance. (LeadershipIQ, 2020)

Sad to say, many employees quit their jobs because they find their bosses inefficient or even unqualified to lead their company. Nowadays, it takes more than reaching quarterly revenue targets or keeping operational costs at a minimum.

Leadership Is Beyond Leading

Leadership is at a crossroads. This is a major realization that these statistics collectively manifest. Amid workplace injustice, political turmoil, economic recession, and a global virus outbreak, it will be incumbent upon leaders to truly empathize with their followers and make the soundest of decisions.

Simply put, today’s leaders must embrace and realize diversity, equality, and inclusion within their ranks, as well as unceasingly seek innovation and always communicate transparently. He or she must constructively solve problems, ensure that everyone is connected to the company’s vision, and be several steps ahead of any crisis.

Whatever gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or generation, leaders should work toward ensuring that everyone is engaged. Moreover, all employees must be given equal opportunities and support to someday become leaders themselves.



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  2. American Express. (2019). State of Women-owned Businesses Report. New York, NY: American Express.
  3. Brueck, H. (2020, October 21). A new study finds poor leadership is the reason for America’s unrivaled coronavirus death toll. Insider.
  4. Catalyst. (2020, April 27). Buying power: Quick take. Catalyst.
  5. Challenger, Gray & Christmas. (2020). 2020 January CEO turnover report: 219 leave their posts, more new CEOs come from outside the company. Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
  6. Cohen, J., & Kupferschmidt, K. (2020). Countries test tactics in ‘war’ against COVID-19. Science, 367 (6484), 1287-1288.
  7. Coqual. (2020). what majority of men really think about diversity and inclusion (and how to engage them in it) belonging series, part 2.
  8. DDI. (2021). Global Leadership Trends for 2021. DDI
  9. Deloitte. (2021). 2021 Global Human Capital Trends. London, UK: Deloitte.
  10. Edelman. (2021). Edelman Trust Barometer. Chicago, IL: Daniel J. Edelman Holdings.
  11. Facebook/OECD/World Bank. (2020). Global State of Small Business. Menlo Park, CA; Paris; Washington, DC:  Facebook/OECD/World Bank.
  12. FOEW. (2020). Women in Leadership 2020. North Wales, PA: The Forum of Executive Women.
  13. Hanes, M. (2020). Destructive leadership and the impact on the business. HR Exchange.
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  15. Korn Ferry. (2019, April 17). Korn Ferry analysis of largest U.S. companies shows percentage of women in C-suite roles inches up from previous year. Korn Ferry.
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  20. Magan, S. (2020, April 11). All 6 countries with the best response to Covid-19 have 1 thing in common: Women leaders. Scoop Whoop.
  21. McFadden, S., Malik, A., Aguolu, O., Willebrand, K., & Omer, S. (2020). Perceptions of the adult US population regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak. PLOS One, 15 (4), e0231808.
  22. McKinsey. (2020, April 22). Purpose: Shifting from why to how. McKinsey Quarterly.
  23. Morris, L. (2019, May 16). Leader to leader: Most essential leadership qualities. The Growth Faculty.
  24. Naftali, T. (2021, January 19). The worst president in history. TheAtlantic.
  25. Nguyen, L. (2020, July 30). Women are going to take charge of $30 trillion of wealth in a decade. Bloomberg.
  26. North, A. (2020, October 17). New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wins historic reelection. Vox.
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  28. PwC. (2021). PwC 24th Annual Global CEO Survey. London, UK: PwC.
  29. Sahadi, J. (2020, June 2). After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal. CNN.
  30. Santer, B. (2020, June 1). Ignoring science during a pandemic is poor leadership. Scientific American.
  31. Shepherd, M. (2020, December 16). Women-owned businesses: Statistics and overview (2021). Fundera.
  32. Worldometer. (2021, March 21). COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Worldometer.
  33. Yurkevich, V. (2020, June 2). There are just four black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Here’s how they are addressing the death of George Floyd. CNN.
  34. Zen Business. (2020). The stress of being a manager.
  35. Zweigenhaft, R. (2021, January). Diversity among Fortune 500 CEOs from 2000 to 2020: White women, hi-tech South Asians, and economically privileged multilingual immigrants from around the world. WhoRulesAmerica.
Louie Andre

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. From pitch deck to exit strategy, he is no stranger to project business hiccups and essentials. He has been involved in a few internet startups including a digital route planner for a triple A affiliate. His advice to vendors and users alike? "Think of benefits, not features."

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