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Employers urged to recognise men and women tend to excel in different aspects of leadership

Men and women have different leadership strengths, and organisations need a balance of both if they are to be truly effective, claims a new study from Talent Innovations, based on an analyses of 14,000 360° feedback results.

The company analysed the 360° feedback results of UK leaders and managers to identify the differences in how men and women were rated against a set of 18 leadership competencies. The results suggest men are more strategic but women may make better project managers.

Women score higher than men in the competencies of planning and managing activities, respect & empathy for others and personal responsibility. Men score higher in strategic vision, commercial focus and personal impact.

Elva Ainsworth, MD of Talent Innovations, said: "Men and women tend to excel in different aspects of leadership. The 'male leadership style' is strategic and visionary, while the 'female leadership style' is more social. On one hand, this study highlights the general areas in which men and women need leadership development. However, on the other, it suggests that the natural styles of men and women are complementary. By creating a balance of both types of leadership, through Board-level diversity, organisations can bring about peak performance."

The study shows that women are good at prioritising and multitasking. They tend to meet deadlines and deliver on promises. They also empathise well with others, they're socially-sensitive and they're good listeners.

"Women tend to be stronger in the interpersonal aspects of leadership and in the competencies of planning and organising," said Ainsworth. "This implies that women may make better project managers."

Men are good at making a strong first impression, expressing views with confidence, being visible across the organisation and making their presence felt. They tend to be less socially-sensitive and are more focused on the rational, practical and commercial aspects of achieving results.

"Men tend to be stronger in the behaviours that help an individual to progress their career," said Elva Ainsworth. "They're also seen as stronger in strategic thinking. These factors may be part of the reason why women are under-represented in senior management positions."

The study also reveals how the sexes differ in their assessments of each other. Women are inclined to be more generous in the way they judge their colleagues than men. Women rate other women higher in the competencies of leading teams, managing performance, the ability to communicate clearly, commitment to development and being customer-centric. Men rate other men higher in the ability to grasp complexities and innovation.