Want to be provocative in the office? Then start focusing on women in the organization.
That’s according to John H. “Jack” Zenger of Zenger Folkman, who is considered a world expert in the field of leadership development. When Zenger and a colleague wrote about this in a recent blog , it generated an overwhelming amount of comment.
Zenger said that the message of the blog was simple. His data from thousands of 360 degree feedback instruments showed that the women managers and executives were perceived as being more effective than their male counterparts on ¾ of the competencies that we measure.
Although the differences weren’t huge, they were statistically significant. Of the 16 competencies in the standard leadership competency model, women scored significantly higher on 12 of them. On only one did men receive statistically significantly higher scores? That one exception was “strategic thinking.”
It appears that women excelled at taking initiative, displaying honesty and integrity, problem solving, driving for results, taking initiative, communicating powerfully, inspiring and motivating others, building relationships, developing others, collaboration and teamwork, and championing change. Men were approximately equal at technical expertise, innovation and connecting their group to the outside world.
Women received higher scores
When Zenger compared the most senior leaders in organizations, the women received higher scores from their manager, their peers and their direct reports than did their male counterparts. The same was true of lower levels as further down the organization structure.
In light of this, it remains an extraordinary fact that women are significantly under-represented in managerial positions. In senior-level positions, women occupy approximately 15% of them. Yet when placed in those positions, women are given high scores from those around them.
The data suggests that by adding more women the overall effectiveness of the leadership team would go up. 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.
Gender doesn’t guarantee a terrific leader
In Zenger’s research, when looking at the best leaders (those rated at the top 10 percent) both male and female leaders appear. The same for the worst leaders (those at the bottom 10%): gender does not guarantee that you will be a terrific leader.
But when looking at the percentage of male and females who were rated the highest and the lowest, females have a lower percentage of the worst and a higher percentage of the best. The percentages are based on the total number of men and women in the study. This analysis involved over 4500 leaders from a wide variety of industries. It included data from leaders North America, Europe, South America and the Pacific Rim countries.
|Worst Leaders Bottom 10%||10.7%||8.7%|
|Best Leaders Top 10%||9.2%||11.5%|
Zenger’s research suggests that companies would do well to invest even more development in their women and then insure that they are given strong consideration for every leadership vacancy that occurs.