Women make better managers, study says

"Ambitious, bold, colourful" women make good bosses, experts say.

By Kate Southam

New research describes Australia’s senior female executives as more strategic, innovative and more prepared to take risks than their male counterparts.

Commissioned by Steps Leadership Programs, the research also found that top female executives have better people skills than men and make "stronger" CEOs.

The research involved collecting data from 1800 male and female CEOs and managers. The key findings were:
*Women scored higher than men on the key issues of strategic drive, risk taking, people skills, aesthetics, altruism and innovation.
*Women equalled men in the area of emotional stability.
*Men scored higher in the areas of command and control and focus on bottom line.
*The General Manager of the Steps Leadership Program, Gillian O’Mara, said the financial focus of men, highlighted by the research, was nothing new.
*"[Men believe] bottom line dollars are the only game in town. Their key motives and preferences in life appear to be around revenue, budgets and profit. At work and at home, they are driven by financial opportunities," Ms O’Mara said.
*Men were also more comfortable with the command and control style of leadership that represents "the last 100 years" of management.

Ms O’Mara told CareerOne.com.au that female leadership, which includes strong people skills, was ideal for our economic times when the ability to "attract, retain and promote talent would was becoming increasingly mission critical" to an organisation’s success.

"Women … are ambitious, bold, mischievous, colourful and imaginative. They are more confident, competitive, and visionary and have a stronger presence. Females are more likely to chance their arm with their ideas and passions and will challenge the status quo," she said.

Detailed results of the study will be presented at the Steps Women and Contemporary Leadership seminar in Sydney on May 14 and Melbourne on May 20. The audience will also hear how women can develop an authentic leadership style as well as how employers can develop and promote female leadership from high achieving women including Jillian Broadbent of the Reserve Bank, Karen Matthews of Ella Bache and Christine Nixon, the Victorian Police Commissioner. Author of the Steps research, Peter Berry of Peter Berry Consulting, will also be present.

Ms O’Mara said the seminars and training courses run by Steps Leadership were designed to "give women the confidence to build their leadership skills and capabilities as well as seek opportunities.

"Certainly there is a lot of research being undertaken concerning women’s participation at all levels of the workforce. Diversity is critical to a company’s success and I think this is slowly starting to penetrate [boardrooms]," Ms O’Mara said.

"I think the real shift will be when we have greater visibility of women in leadership. Those role models sharing their stories of success have an enormous impact on the workforce."

The Steps Leadership research follows the release last week of a new campaign by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency identifying "Generation F" and their importance to the economy. Gen F is defined as all working women aged 16 to 64.

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