09.2013 - Leadership:  Does Gender Matter? What the current research is telling us.

Many researchers are examining this question.  Here are several findings.  See what you think. Keep in mind that these are tendencies.  There is a whole lot more to any individual than just gender.  

Still, the findings are interesting!

360 Feedback Results on Women's Effectiveness

Zenger, a nationally recognized HR expert, and Folkman analyzed 360-degree Leadership Effectiveness evaluations of 7,280+ executives. 

  • Women were rated higher than the men overall.
  • The gap widenened the higher their position.

The ratings were significating higher, statisically, speaking on Developing Others and Building Relationships, but also on 12 of the 16 traits (based on 30+ years of research) as most important to overall leadership effectiveness.

Women need to focus on career planning.

Of the 16 leadership competencies, men outranked women in just one area:  Develops a Strategic Perspective.  Many experts agree that women do not give enough strategic perspective to career advancement.....more men than women focus on career planning and take actions to support their careers. 

Men tend to offer themselves for opportunities that show their bosses that they have the time and capability to do more.  Women....tend to focus on doing the best possible job in their current position.  Women seem to believe that career advancement is based on merit. 

Forbes review, Zenger/Folkman research.

What’s wrong with research about female bosses?

A bevy of research tells us that—even in 2013 — professional women are regularly disparaged when they’re seen as too vocal.

Dr. Victoria Brescoll, recently found that talkative women are seen as less competent than quieter female professionals (and talkative males). She asked her study subjects to read articles about fictional CEOs and then to rate the CEOs’ competency on a scale of one to seven. The talkative male CEOs got an average rating of 5.64, while talkative women scored 5.11.

Why does so much of our academic research on women’s leadership still focus on biases rather than strategies?

Query any group of female executives and you’ll hear from a majority that they moved up because they used their voices. Having personally interviewed dozens of successful women, the advice they most often emphasize is, “Behind every woman who gets promoted is…herself.”  Meaning we must advocate, campaign and sometimes even argue our way upward.

Excerpt, Selena Rezvani, June 4, 2013 The Washington Post

What's a Woman to Do?

Centered Leadership is based on behavioral interviews with 85 talented and successful women leaders around the world.

  • Meaning - finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose.
  • Managing Energy - knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it.
  • Positive Framing - adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen.
  • Connecting - identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging.
  • Engaging - finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.

McKinsey Consulting, Barsh, Cranson and Craske.

Good Assignments

High potential men get more of the critical assignments that lead to advancement than high potential women.  Catalyst studied 1,660+ business school graduates who were given projects given to high-potential employees.

On average, men's projects had:

  • Budgets twice as big; and,
  • Three times as many staffers as women's. 

Silva, Charter  Beninger, 2012.

Why We Need

Women Leaders

....not only because they can manage as well as men but because they manage differently ....because they tend — over time and in the aggregate — to make different kinds of decisions and bring different ideas to the table.

....(who) will approach risk from a different perspective, who take an altered view of time and conflict, and who understand diversity as something more than an abstract theory.

We need women who operate as managers, not just as employees or critics; who are as competitive for themselves as they are for their children.

......we need more men to recognize that having women around the table isn't just a nice thing to do. It makes for a better table.

Deborah Spar, President, Barnard College


On Meaning

Martin E. P. Seligman, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

On Managing Energy

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.

On Positive Framing

Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

Martin E. P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.

On Connecting

Catalyst, Creating Women’s Networks: How-To Guide for Women and Companies.

Lois J. Zachary, Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships.

On Engaging

Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling On Happiness.

Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change.