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Are Women Leaders better than Men?

Not only do women leaders bring about strong financial returns for companies, they are also often seen as better leaders.

According to a survey released by Zenger and Folkman consultants which surveyed 7,300 leaders in domestic and international public and private sectors, women were seen as better leaders in 12 out of 16 different competencies proven to demonstrate leadership effectiveness, such as taking initiative, developing others, driving for results and self-development. Overall, 55.1% of women were seen as effective compared to 51. 3% for men. The gap, however, widened significantly with higher the management roles.

We’ve all heard the claims, the theories, and the speculation about the ways leadership styles vary between women and men. Our latest survey data puts some hard numbers into the mix.

Our data come from 360 evaluations, so what they are tracking is the judgment of a leader’s peers, bosses, and direct reports. We ask these individuals to rate each leader’s effectiveness overall and also to judge how strong he or she is on the 16 competencies that our 30 years of research shows are most important to overall leadership effectiveness. We ask, for instance, how good a leader is at taking the initiative, developing others, inspiring and motivating, and pursuing their own development.

Our latest survey of 7,280 leaders, which our organization evaluated in 2011, confirms some seemingly eternal truths about men and women leaders in the workplace but also holds some surprises. Our dataset was generated from leaders in some of the most successful and progressive organizations in the world both public and private, government and commercial, domestic and international. – Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman