The economic and political uncertainties in Europe over the last five years have had a dramatic effect on the skills and qualities required of European business leaders. The composite picture of the New European Executive—one able to rekindle and sustain growth—is a leader more visionary, move driven by competence and expertise, more flexible and adaptable to rapid change, more courageous, and more strategic than before the onset of the financial crisis.

The New European Executive, the latest study published by the Korn/Ferry Institute, is based on interviews with more than one hundred senior executives within the European Union and in-depth research on our extensive database of executive assessment profiles.

Among the key findings: The most important characteristic for business leaders in Europe today is the ability to deal with ambiguity, a trait that didn’t even make the top 10 five years ago. Managing vision and purpose—being able to define what success looks like in a flat economy and communicating that to stakeholders—is another key new attribute, and ranks third in results from our 2012 survey. Managerial courage, enters the list at number five as business leaders need to make bolder decisions in an environment where they frequently have to act quickly on a limited amount of information.

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