It’s true. Research reveals that women are the most effective workplace leaders


Research shows that even though the number of women in leadership roles is significantly lower, Australian women are proven to be more effective workplace leaders than their male counterparts, rating significantly higher across 12 of 16 core leadership competencies. And the research also shows that working mothers are a safe bet for business.

The research, conducted by rogenSi’s strategic partner company, Zenger Folkman through 360 degree evaluations from 2011-2013 asked the peers, bosses, and direct reports of 446 men and 181 women in leadership roles across the nation to rate each leader’s overall effectiveness. It also asked them to judge the leader’s strength across each competency including: taking initiative, developing others, inspiring and motivating, pursuing their own development, championing change and driving results.

The results found that when rated on overall leadership effectiveness, women scored highest at 47.08%, while men scored 39.42%. When rated on each individual leadership competency women scored higher in 12 out of 16, while men were only rated higher in 1 of 16, and in 3 of 16 they scored equally.

Although it may not be surprising that women scored higher in ‘nurturing’ skills such as building relationships and developing others, some of the most significant differences between the two sexes prove that women are also better when it comes to taking initiative, practicing self development, displaying high integrity and honesty and even driving results.

Working mums are a safe bet for businesses

Research shows that working mums are a safe bet for businesses. The Diversity Council Australia’s Working for the Future research in 2011 found that parents/care-givers:

  • were more likely to feel positive about their job
  • were less likely to intend to leave
  • made better managers

The bottlenecks | why aren’t there more of them in the workplace?  

Women’s increased participation in the workforce is not translating into increased numbers of women at senior and executive levels and they continue to be underutilised in organisations. Statistics show that although the movement of women through the business hierarchy into top-level positions is increasing, this has been very slow and there is still a long way to go. Currently only 17.6% of directors in the ASX 200 are women and 42 ASX 200 companies do not have a woman on their board.

Despite the positives mentioned above, The Diversity Council Australia’s ‘Working for the Future’ research also found that 32 per cent of Australian employers were worried that mothers returning to work part-time were not as flexible and committed as other employees.

As explained by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook in her book Lean in – Women, Work and the Will to Lead, it is common for even the most successful business women take a back seat, taking up to 5 years out from actively driving their career forward when it comes to planning and having children. This was also discussed by Sheryl in her TED speech.

This creates a huge bottleneck in the talent pipeline where many exceptionally talented and skilled women find that they have slipped behind, needing to up skill to simply hold the job title they once had, with little or no chance of catching up to their child-free or male colleagues who have increased their skills and moved up the corporate ladder in the meantime.

Addressing the problem from an employer’s perspective

Employers are not embracing flexibility in the workplace anywhere near as much as they could and should be.

Recent research shows that Australian employers are the least open to flexible working arrangements of anyone in the Asia Pacific region, with 79% of local workers saying they are unable to work remotely in their current position. This compares to 59% of Chinese workers, 62% of Indian, 64% of Malaysian and 65% of workers in Hong Kong and New Zealand, who are unable to work remotely.



About Nikki Hobin

Nikki Hobin is an expert coach, trainer, facilitator and Principal, Asia Pacific for rogenSi. She specialises in helping individuals, teams and organisations unlock their potential and transform their business performance to achieve exceptional outcomes and results. Nikki does this through executive coaching, pitch consulting, strategic communication, new business development, strategy alignment and sales & leadership execution. In her role as lead of Exceptional Women in Business, Nikki hosts events, facilitates sessions and is a key note speaker on topics related to gender diversity. With first-hand experience as a successful business woman, one of the most rewarding elements of Nikki Hobin's career is leading regular working women’s forums and also working one on one with women to help them drive successful careers.

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