Sales Coaching Blog

Woman Power Part 2: Women leaders are transforming the face of business

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

February 29, 2012

Women_in_Business.jpg In part one of this two part series, I shared four pieces of research, from an article published by Bizshifts-Trends that demonstrate the positive impact of women's leadership styles. In part two we share the rest of the research that proves women leaders are making a postive impact.

In the articleWhy Women Leaders Need Self-Confidence Leslie Pratch writes:

"I headed research at the University of Chicago investigating the longer-term personality predictors of leadership. Among the relationships examined were those among gender; coping and motivation, in the evaluation of leadership effectiveness.

Among the particularly striking findings of this research were the differences between men and women on measures of active coping. If you are interested in the conceptual and empirical approach underlying the research, an academic article reporting the findings can be found here. In a nutshell, we took measures of coping, motivation, and intelligence at the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, we assessed the ability of these measures to predict leadership effectiveness as evaluated by peers, superiors, and subordinates.

We found that the only measure that predicted leadership for men and women alike was an overall measure of active coping, which  indicates the ability to respond adaptively to stress and to grow . . . Gender-based expectations for behavior, influence the styles and evaluations of leaders. Women are expected to display high levels of social (communal) qualities, including; needs for affiliation, a tendency to be self-sacrificing, concern with others, spontaneity, and emotional expressiveness. Men are expected to display high levels of agentic qualities, those associated with acting or exerting power, including; independence, assertiveness, self-confidence, and instrumental competence. . . The correlation between self-confidence and leadership effectiveness was also overwhelmingly statistically significant. As a whole, these findings indicate that women have to have high self-esteem and high self-confidence while leading in a communal style, in order to be perceived as effective leaders. In short, they must be stronger copers in order to transcend the constraints placed on their business leadership style."

Read a related article titled "Managing Vibrant Boomer Women"

Women Leaders Get Higher Marks

In the articleAs Leaders, Women Rule by Rochelle Sharpe she writes about the new studies showing that femail managers outshine their male counterpoints in almost every measure. She says this:

"That’s the essential finding of a growing number of comprehensive management studies conducted by consultants across the country for companies ranging from high-tech to manufacturing to consumer services. By and large, the studies show that women executives, when rated by their peers, underlings, and bosses score higher than their male counterparts on a wide variety of measures; from producing high-quality work to goal-setting to mentoring employees. Using elaborate performance evaluations of executives, researchers found that women got higher ratings than men on almost every skill measured. Ironically, the researchers weren’t looking to ferret-out gender differences. They accidentally stumbled on the findings when they were compiling hundreds of routine performance evaluations and then analyzing the results.

The gender differences were often small, and men sometimes earned higher marks in some critical areas, such as strategic ability and technical analysis. But overall, female executives were judged more effective than their male counterparts. "Women are scoring higher on almost everything we look at,” says Shirley Ross, an industrial psychologist who helped oversee a study performed by Hagberg Consulting Group in Foster City, Calif. . . .

Women think through decisions better than men, are more collaborative, and seek less personal glory; says the head of IBM’s Global Services Div., Douglas Elix. Instead of being motivated by self-interest, women are more driven by ”what they can do for the company”, Elix says. Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of the 20-year-old management classic book, ‘Men and Women of the Corporation’, says; ”Women get high ratings on exactly those skills needed to succeed in the global Information Age, where teamwork and partnering are so important.”

Double Standards for Women In Leadership

The concept of business leadership is changing; however, there is a clear double standard. Studies show male CEOs and senior vice-presidents got high marks from their bosses when they were forceful and assertive and lower scores if they were cooperative and empathic. The opposite was true for women. Female CEOs got downgraded for being assertive and got better scores when they were cooperative. Concluding that at the highest levels, bosses are still evaluating people in the most stereotypical ways. That means that even though women have proven their readiness to lead companies into the future, they’re not likely to get a shot until their bosses are ready to stop living in the past. But if women are so great, why aren’t more of them running the big companies?

According to boomerdivanation.org, there’s still a pipeline problem. Most women get stuck in jobs that involve human resources or public relations. These positions rarely lead to the top. At the same time, female managers’ strengths have long been undervalued and their contributions in the workplace have gone largely unnoticed and unrewarded. Companies are now saying they want the skills women typically bring to the job, but such rhetoric doesn’t always translate into reality. These under-currents of bias are forcing many women to seek other career opportunities, such as, starting their own businesses. 

As of March 2011, there were 10.1 million businesses owned by women, making up 40% of all private businesses. Many women admit that because they spend so much time focusing on getting results, they don’t think enough about strategy and vision which are qualities that Harvard’s Kanter says are still the most important in a top executive. "If women are seen as only glorified office facilitators but not as tough-minded risk-takers… they will be held back from the CEO jobs,” says Kanter. 

In the end, it takes a lot more than competence to make it to the top. Getting the best performance evaluations in the company’s history may not be nearly enough. ”When you actually sit down in a selection committee to choose the CEO, lots of subtle assumptions come into play,” said Deborah Merrill Sands. Companies may say they want collaborative leaders, but they still hold deep-seated beliefs that top managers need to be heroic figures. The bottom line is that the business case for diversity is strong. Companies with gender diverse leadership teams have seen the positive results and are outperforming those without women at the helm. The prospect for improved financial performance is a business case that cannot be ignored.  

Learn the three parts of being an effective sales manager by reading the article "The Performance Evolution: Why You Can't Manage Your Way To Growth"


 

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Topics: women in sales management

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