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Women Make ‘Better Leaders’


Women are more likely to have the leadership characteristics essential for high performance in today’s workplace, according to a new study.

The research, from leadership consultants the Centre for High Performance Development (CHPD), suggests that while men believe they are more competent than women, the reverse is true.

However, men's self-belief and ability to promote themselves helps them top levels of the career ladder.

Chris Parry, CHPD chief executive, explained why she believed that women have the edge in the leadership stakes.

“Today’s fast-changing and dynamic working environment requires leadership characteristics such as understanding complexity, building relationships, getting buy-in from others, having clarity and vision and focusing on results," she said.

“Our research among almost 1,500 managers and leaders has shown that women possess these characteristics to a greater degree than men, particularly in the earlier stages of their career. You could therefore argue that women are better equipped than men to be successful leaders in today’s business environment.”

The study's findings are not reflected in reality in the business world. According to the Female FTSE Report on the number of women in British boardrooms, in 2004 only 17% of new board appointments were women and a third of companies were still operating without a single women on the board.

According to Parry, there are a number of reasons why, despite their abilities, women are not being appointed to the most senior positions in UK businesses.

“Men communicate up the hierarchy of any organisation much more actively than women. They are much more visible and familiar to leaders and so are more likely to be noticed and considered for top positions.

“Furthermore, the natural communication style for men – direct and absolute – is valued in male dominated environments and this means men are often credited with being confident and having more ‘gravitas’ than women. Finally, women tend to dislike ‘office politics’, which are an essential ingredient for success, and while not all men are politically astute, most politically astute individuals are men.”

Parry said that women tended to do a good job and hope that this was noticed. However, she said that it was relatively easy for women to be trained in the art of office politics. While men could learn the traits more associated with women.

However, the key message she said was that organisations should look for diversity in their boardrooms.

"If you look across a team and find that you have gaps, you need to either bring someone in to fill those gaps or help that team develop those skills," she said.

"I've worked with a lot of companies and those with diversity in their boardroom do better, they may argue more, but over-all they do better."


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