The premise: 55,000 professionals from 90 countries, surveyed by the Korn Ferry Hay Group between 2011 and 2015, think that women have better emotional and social skills than men. These skills are essential for modern managers, so are women a better leadership bet than men in suits?
THE BUSINESS COACH
Avril Henry AFAIM
We have to be careful about making assumptions about gender, but men and women do lead differently. Men tend to command and control by being directive. But all of my leadership studies over the years have shown that a principal thing that people want in a leader is a good listener. Women are better listeners. Men tell; women ask.
I’m working with some male officers in the [Australian] Army at the moment and am explaining the importance of active listening skills in good leadership. It’s taken them a while to learn but they are amazed at how effective it is.
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR
Phil Crenigan FAIM
When I coach, the principles of leadership are not orientated to gender. The greatest drivers of performance are setting a clear direction and listening skills. It’s important to make people know that their opinion counts and that they are an integral part of an organisation rather than just a number.
Women are particularly strong in listening skills. They are more collaborative and less alpha. They are good at providing feedback. They also tend to be more patient. However I do know some male leaders with extraordinary EQ [emotional intelligence] and listening skills.
Gifted leaders are neither male nor female. They appreciate diversity.
THE TALENT PRACTICE LEAD
Our research shows that they are better leaders. [At Korn Ferry Hay Group] we recently had reports from 20,000 employees about 5000 leaders. Women had a more positive effect on their teams than the males in our study because they use a broader range of leadership styles when needed.
Women use different ways of influencing their employees and our research overall says that the more leadership styles you can use, the better the engagement with your people will be. To get ahead, women have to influence more people and show that they are ready for leadership in ways that maybe men don’t necessarily have to.
What we have also found is that women are more driven to do team-building activities.