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Women outperform men in most leadership attributes, survey finds

But men rank higher for 'gift of the gab' and sharing a clear organisational vision 

29 May 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Female leaders perform better than men in almost every key leadership attribute, a global study has found.

The survey of more than 6,500 people in 13 countries found that women outperform men in all of the top-four leadership attributes and in five of the seven highest ranking ones.

According to the research, the top leadership traits are leading by example, communicating transparently, admitting mistakes and bringing out the best in others.

"Key actions around honesty, transparency and collaboration - not just key messages - are most important in order to be seen as an effective leader," the 2014 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor notes.

The research found that the most important leadership attribute for respondents in 2012 and 2013 - open, transparent communication - remains critical to effective leadership today.

Three fifths (62 per cent) of respondents view it as very important to great leadership, but only two fifths (40 per cent) said their leaders communicate openly.

Female leaders ranked slightly below their male counterparts when it came to handling controversial issues or crises calmly.

Men also ranked higher when it came to making tough decisions and providing a clear overall long-term vision for their organisations.

However, women were considered superior when it came to demonstrating the following leadership traits:

  • aligning what they say with what they do;

  • showing respect for different cultures;

  • working with different personalities;

  • taking active steps to ensure diversity in their organisations; and

  • showing respect for their organisations' history and culture.

Male and female leaders ranked equally when it came to telling a compelling story about their organisations. However, men ranked higher when it came to the 'gift of the gab', or using inspirational rhetoric.

The annual survey by Ketchum received 6,509 responses, of which 52 per cent of respondents were male and 48 per cent were female.




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