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What makes women leaders stand out

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Male leaders can do a lot worse than getting in touch with their trendy “feminine side.”

At least, that’s what a new study by management consulting firm Caliper indicates. The research, which assessed 59 women leaders and compared them with a representative sample of their male peers, pinpoints women’s particular strengths. Namely:

Finding 1: They’re more persuasive. Women’s “people skills” let them read situations more accurately. As a result, they can be more convincing because they understand and care about where others are coming from, whereas men tend to start from their own viewpoint.

Finding 2: They’ll prove it. Because women leaders felt the sting of rejection early, they developed an “I’ll show you” attitude.

Example: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was offered only secretarial work after graduating top of her class at Stanford Law. In short, women leaders are more assertive because they have to be.

Finding 3: They start by listening. Women leaders tend to talk through decisions with many more people than their male peers.

“To learn, you have to keep asking,” says Susan Rice, chief executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland. “I am always asking questions. What the people I work with will say is that the process of my asking them questions helps to clarify their own thinking, and they actually come out a little sharper.

“My job, as I see it, is to set a clear strategy, ask the right questions and encourage our managers to be the experts in their business.”

Finding 4: They ignore rules and take risks. The study shows women leaders are significantly less likely than men to stick to rules and play it safe. They also scored higher in sense of urgency and risk-taking.

— Adapted from “The Qualities That Distinguish Women Leaders,” Caliper Corp., www.caliperonline.com.

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