Women Executives Are Smarter Than Male Counterparts

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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Now that’s a headline that should get a debate started.

New research says that women rate higher in overall competencies for senior leadership positions. Perhaps of more interest, however, the study says that women lack key career experiences that often give men an edge up on promotions at the most senior levels.

Korn Ferry, a provider of leadership and talent consulting services, says that with the exception of confidence, women generally score higher than men in many aspects of leadership style, such as comfort with ambiguity and being socially attuned. They also score higher in most of the skills and competencies deemed necessary for senior leadership success, such as employee engagement, customer satisfaction and building talent. 

“What women are missing are the experiences that their male counterparts seek out during mid-level and business unit level roles," said J. Evelyn Orr, senior director of the Korn Ferry Institute and editor of Korn Ferry’s research on women in leadership. “Women need to seek out and say ‘yes’ to experiences that stretch their skills and organizations need to provide women with opportunities to accept those challenges earlier in their careers."

These critical experiences include challenging or difficult situations, business growth, financials, strategy, and high-risk, high-visibility assignments such as helping turn around a low-performing unit. The study shows women are either not being offered or are saying “no" to critical opportunities more often – leaving them a full leadership level behind in experiences when they are considered for senior positions.

As of June, only 24 Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs and women occupied less than 17 percent of Fortune 500 board seats.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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