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Do women make better leaders? These researchers believe so

Research suggests women make better business leaders than men - but are less able to withstand pressure of work-related stress

The organisers of the study hope that the findings will help recruiters to make better decisions when appointing top-ranking employers – or at least mean they are more aware of the strengths and possible weaknesses of those they take on.

The study, which as carried out by researchers at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, questioned nearly 3,000 managers of both sexes. The researchers extensively quizzed the participants on different aspects of business to discover their personality traits.

The participants were surveyed on five different categories; of these, the women achieved a higher ranking in four.

The categories the women scored highly in were goal setting and methodical management; clear communication and initiative; openness and ability to innovate; and supportiveness and sociability. The women only failed to beat the men in one category – emotional stability.

The survey was organised and carried out by the Oslo business school’s head of leadership and organisational behaviour, Professor Øyvind L Martinsen, in conjunction with his colleague Professor Lars Glasø.

Commenting on the study, Professor Martinsen said the results suggest that women are more able than men to manage with impact and clarity. He said the research clearly points to women being better leaders, which should be used in the future by heads of business to re-evaluate their strategies for management hierarchy.

Professor Glasø added that the fact women leaders are more likely to worry about things – and are therefore less likely to be able to cope with work-related stress than men – does not mean they are less suited to top management positions.

On the contrary, he explained the study clearly shows that women are more likely to succeed in high management roles and that business leaders and recruiters should ignore this at their peril.

The research comes at a time when men still outnumber women in business, particularly in high-ranking positions. The latest estimates suggest that although almost one-third of management positions are held by women, around one-quarter of organisations have no women in senior roles; in addition, only around one-quarter of board directors are female.

If this research proves one thing, it is that women can certainly give men a run for their money in business.

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