Women in the workplace are more likely to outperform their male counterparts when in leadership positions, according to new research at the BI Norwegian Business School. Examining the personality traits of around 3,000 managers, the results revealed that female leaders regularly scored higher than men in four out of the five categories studied.
Women on average scored higher in communication and initiative, with female bosses being more prone to openness, supportiveness and sociability. Men in similar roles were often seen to make quicker choices under pressure, with spontaneous decision making and more reliance on improvisation, while women are statistically more likely to set goals and reach them with methodical management skills.
The supportive and social nature seen more in female leaders has its downfalls, however. Men are more likely to maintain emotional stability and withstand stress, where women can feel more empathetic. The BI Norwegian Business School believes that the results of the study emphasise the disproportions of leadership roles, as fears are raised that companies could be actively employing less qualified leaders because of their gender.
“Our results indicate that women naturally rank higher, in general, than men in their abilities to innovate and lead with clarity and impact,” said Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, head of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the BI Norwegian Business School. “These findings pose a legitimate question about the construction of management hierarchy and the current dispensation of women in these roles.”
Martinsen held the study with colleague, Professor Lars Glasø and is attempting to highlight the damage being done to businesses who are hiring based on gender instead of talent. Admitting that female leaders can have a tendency to worry more and become more emotionally involved, Glasø wants to emphasise that “this does not negate the fact that they are decidedly more suited to management positions than their male counterparts.”
“If decision-makers ignore this truth, they could effectively be employing less qualified leaders and impairing productivity.”