In analysis of more than 7,200 male and female leaders from a wide variety of industries in North America, Europe, South America and the Pacific Rim countries, Zenger Folkman found that women excelled in a majority of areas. Of the 16 competencies Zenger Folkman measures that differentiate high performers from those who are average or poor, women excel at 12 of the 16.
Co-founders Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman discussed their findings this week in an exclusive column for Harvard Business Review.
These include behaviors such as being perceived as honest, problem solving, driving for results, taking initiative, communicating powerfully, inspiring and motivating, building relationships, developing others, collaboration and teamwork, and championing change.
“It is a well-known fact that women are underrepresented at senior levels of management. Yet the data suggests that by adding more women, the overall effectiveness of the leadership team would go up,” Zenger said. “Organizations go outside to recruit effective leaders when in many cases, they may well have internal people who could rise to fill the position that is vacant.”
However, the news isn’t all bad for men. Men excelled in technical expertise, innovation, strategic perspective and connecting their group to the outside world.
“While our data shows men excel in the technical and strategic arenas, women clearly have the advantage in the extremely important areas of people relationships and communication,”Folkman said. “They also pass by their male counterparts in driving for results, which we know is counterintuitive to many men.”