Study: Women are more effective leaders than men

Women make more effective leaders than their male counterparts, according to the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor survey.

NEW YORK: Women make more effective leaders than their male counterparts, according to the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor survey.

The global study, which polled 6,509 people across 13 countries, asked participants their views on effective leadership and communication, and the relationship between the two. Last year, 6,000 responses were collected for the monitor's second annual survey, while the inaugural year garnered about 3,700 responses.

14 attributes of effective leadership

•Making tough decisions
•Using inspirational rhetoric
•Providing a clear overall, long-term vision
•Handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently
•Telling a compelling story about their organization
•Aligning what they say with what they and their organization does
•Taking active steps to ensure diversity in their organization
•Leading by example
•Showing respect for the organization's history and culture
•Demonstrating an ability to work with different personality styles
•Bringing out the best in others
•Communicating in an open and transparent way
•Showing a respect for different cultures - at home and internationally
•Admitting mistakes

When asked their views on 14 critical attributes of effective leadership (see sidebar), such as leading by example and admitting mistakes, and which gender performs each better, respondents rated women higher in almost all areas, the survey found.

About 57% of respondents scored female leaders higher on leading by example; 62% believe women are better at communicating in an open and transparent way; 66% said females are more likely to admit mistakes; and 61% ranked women as better at bringing out the best in others.

Male leaders were rated higher by respondents in making tough decisions (63%) and handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently (52%).

"It is not actually about men vs. women," said Rod Cartwright, partner and director of Ketchum’s global corporate and public affairs practice. "It’s about the perceived effectiveness of female leaders vs. the perceived effectiveness of male leaders; there is no value judgment."

He added that the results don’t mean that all leaders should be women, but the study shows that "when you look at leadership attributes the world views as effective, it is a fairly blanket victory for female leaders."

While respondents believe female leaders are performing more strongly on "traits that matter," added Cartwright, they still look slightly more to male leaders from a global standpoint, with 54% choosing men as the gender it expects to "navigate us through the challenges of the next five years."

"Unexpected" geographical patterns were also uncovered by the study, Cartwright noted, with China, India, Singapore, and Great Britain showing overall support for male leaders, while South Africa, Spain, Germany, and Brazil favor female leaders.

Male or female, this study has highlighted critical lessons for both genders, signaling the rise of a new "feminine" model for leadership communication, explained Cartwright.

"If male leaders want to succeed, they want to look at what the world is asking for; and female leaders need to resist the temptation to adhere to an outdated macho model of solitary, muscular, commander control leadership," he said.

All data collection for the poll was handled by Ipsos Observer.

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