More Inclusivity, Fewer ‘Lonely Heroes’ Needed Among Hungarian Executives


Research leader György Drótos presents some of the Corvinus findings.

Groundbreaking research by the Corvinus University of Budapest shows the current challenges of managing companies in Hungary. What do Hungarian executives think about the future of organizations and leadership, and what are the current trends? The answers to these questions were presented to the public for the first time at a press conference on February 23.

The research into “The Future of Organization and Leadership,” was conducted by the Institute of Management Science at Corvinus. It involved 1,200 executives from various industries who shared their opinions and experiences on topics such as strategy, innovation, culture, teamwork, communication, motivation and ethics. The research aims to fill a gap in the Hungarian literature on management and provide insights forpractitioners and policymakers.

One of the main findings of the research was that Hungarian executives tend to work as lonely heroes rather than team players. They rely more on their intuition and experience rather than data or feedback. They also prefer to give orders rather than involve others in decision-making. This leadership style reflects a belief that they can do everything better than anyone else and are responsible for saving their organizations from any crisis.

However, according to György Drótos, one of the research leaders and an associate professor at Corvinus University, this style of leadership is not conducive to innovation or collaboration.

“The lonely hero syndrome is a sign of insecurity and lack of trust,” he said. “It also leads to isolation and burnout.”

He added that lonely heroes often create unnecessary dependencies between themselves and their followers, which hinder workforce productivity and empowerment. Moreover, he warned that such managers might suffer from a distorted self-image and overestimate their abilities, which can result in poor decisions and failures.

He suggested that Hungarian executives adopt a more humble and inclusive approach to leadership, where they share their vision and goals with others, delegate tasks and responsibilities, seek feedback and input, and recognize and reward achievements. He argued that this would foster a culture of trust, learning and innovation among employees.

Where’s the Strategy?

Perhaps surprisingly, another takeaway from the research was that Hungarian executives do not have a clear vision or strategy for their organizations. They often react to external changes rather than anticipate them. They also focus more on short- rather than long-term goals.

Róbert Marciniak, another research leader and associate professor at Corvinus University, explained that this lack of strategy hinders the development and competitiveness of Hungarian firms.

“Without a strategy, there is no direction or purpose,” he said. “It also makes it harder to align resources and actions with objectives.”

Conversely, having a strategy helps with long-term planning and sustainability by setting a roadmap for achieving desired outcomes. Second, it can assist in gaining a competitive advantage by identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Thirdly, Marciniak said it helps collect input and feedback from stakeholders and customers by involving them in the strategic process.

Fourthly, it contributes to preparing for different markets and products by analyzing customer needs and preferences. Fifth, it helps protect against a sudden change in environment by being flexible and adaptable. Sixth, it assists in optimizing and increasing profits by allocating resources efficiently and effectively. Lastly, it helps improve marketing communications by creating a consistent brand identity and message.

Marciniak suggested that Hungarian executives develop a strategic plan that defines their organization’s vision, mission, values, goals and actions. The associate professor argued that this would create a forward-focused approach that could guide decisions and actions.

The third significant finding in the research was linked to the first, in that Hungarian executives favor a hierarchical culture over a participatory one. They value authority and obedience more than autonomy and empowerment. They also communicate more vertically than horizontally.

Top-down Limitations

Anikó Almási, another assistant professor at Corvinus involved in the research, argued that this culture limits the potential and creativity of employees.

“A hierarchical culture creates barriers and silos,” she said. “It also reduces motivation and engagement.” She added that a hierarchical culture has several disadvantages.

It causes internal communication difficulties as employees may have to contact several people just to ask their employer a question. Secondly, it removes the requirement for employee and teamwork participation, as decisions are made top-down without consulting those at the bottom.

Partly as a result, businesses become rigid and incapable of adapting to change as they follow fixed rules and procedures. Finally, there is an increased risk of discrimination remaining undetected, as employees may feel disrespected by those above them or fear reporting any misconduct.

Almási suggested that Hungarian executives adopt a more participatory culture that encourages employees to share their ideas and opinions, collaborate across departments, show initiative and take responsibility. Colleagues should also receive recognition and feedback for their performance. She argued that this would create a culture of trust, learning and innovation among employees.

The research concluded that Hungarian executives need to change their mindset and behavior if they want to lead successful organizations in the future. They should embrace teamwork, strategy, and participation as critical elements of effective leadership. They must also adapt to changing customer needs, market conditions and social expectations. Lajos Szabó, the vice-rector of Corvinus University, praised the research for its relevance and contribution.

“This research is a valuable source of information for anyone interested in management,” he said. “It also shows how Corvinus University is committed to producing high-quality academic work with practical implications.”

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of March 10, 2023.


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