Women make better business leaders than men, finds new report

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 23 Mar 2016

Emotional self-awareness and empathy are among the areas where women outperform their male counterparts

Women more frequently possess the emotional and social capabilities that result in effective leadership and management than men, a new report has found.
 
Females out-perform men in 11 of 12 key emotional intelligence competencies when it comes to leading others in the workplace, according to a new in-depth study by Korn Ferry Hay Group.
 
The survey analysed data from 55,000 professionals across 90 countries and all levels of management, collected between 2011-2015, using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), developed and co-owned by Richard E. Boyatzis, Daniel Goleman and Hay Group.
 
“The data suggests a strong need for more women in the workforce to take on leadership roles,” says Goleman, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations at Rutgers University. “When you factor in the correlation between high emotional intelligence and those leaders who deliver better business results, there is a strong case for gender equity. Organisations must find ways to identify women who score highly on these competencies and empower them.”
 
Among the skills that women outperform men on were emotional self-awareness, empathy, coaching and mentoring, influence, inspirational leadership, conflict management, organisational awareness, adaptability, teamwork and achievement orientation.
 
“S-awareness is key,” says Jill O'Connell, managing director at Leading Edge Consultancy in the UAE. “In order to inspire, act as a role model, and encourage the development of others, you need to know yourself and have an understanding of the impact of your actions and behaviour on others. Reflection should be integral to all you do as a leader.”
 
Marita Harrold, a freelance trainer and consultant also based in the UAE, maintains that these skills have helped her achieve success. “Without question, these skills have helped me recognise and understand emotions in others, and myself, and I have used this awareness to manage my behaviour and relationships in business.”
 
The only area of emotional intelligence where women and men appeared to demonstrate no difference is emotional self-control.
 
Experts who analysed the study believe that men have a lot to learn from women about how best to leverage these emotional and social competencies to become more effective leaders.
 
“Historically, in the workplace there has been a tendency for women to self-evaluate as less competent, while men tend to overrate themselves in their competencies,” says Boyatzis, PhD professor at Case Western Reserve University. “Research shows, however, that the reality is often the opposite. If more men acted like women in employing their emotional and social competencies, they would be substantially and distinctly more effective in their work.”
 
Levels of emotional intelligence displayed by a leader are strongly related to how long their team members plan to remain committed to the organisation. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence inspire team members to stay, whereas leaders with low emotional intelligence are more likely to drive team members away.