Are men or women better leaders? A study of 3,000 managers draws their conclusion

Did you know that there are twice as many men called John as there are women leading the top 1000 companies in the United Kingdom?

Moreover, the proportion of women in management positions declines at each stage of an executive career path.

While there are less women than men in leadership positions, a new study has raised the question on whether men are actually the better leaders.

The study was led by Professor Oyvind L. Martinsen, head of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the BI Norwegian Business School. The study assessed the personality and characteristics of nearly 3,000 managers.

In almost all areas studied, they concluded that women were better leaders than their male counterparts.

In four of the five categories studied, women performed better than men. The categories were: openness and ability to innovate; initiative and clear communication; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting.

There was one area in which men seemed to perform better than women. Men are better than women at dealing with work-related stress and they had higher levels of emotional stability.

Professor Martinsen said:

“Businesses must always seek to attract customers and clients and to increase productivity and profits. Our results indicate that women naturally rank higher, in general, than men in their abilities to innovate and lead with clarity and impact.”

She continued:

“These findings pose a legitimate question about the construction of management hierarchy and the current dispensation of women in these roles.”

The researchers of the study aim for the results to help in displacing current workplace norms.

Where women falter is in their stronger tendency to worry, according to study co-author Professor Lars Glaso. She says:

“However, this does not negate the fact that they are decidedly more suited to management positions than their male counterparts. If decision-makers ignore this truth, they could effectively be employing less qualified leaders and impairing productivity.”

What do you think of the current state of gender disparity in leadership positions around the world? Do these results encourage you to seek a change in the status quo?

There’s a conversation happening now on Ideapod around the hash tag #womeninleadership. Join the conversation by sharing your own ideas.


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