A Female Executive Is Hard to Find

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HR Magazine, June 2001Contrast in Skills

In a study of 425 high-level executives by Hagberg Consulting Group, a consulting and leadership development firm in Foster City, Calif., female managers were rated higher than their male counterparts in 42 of 52 skills measured.

Here's a brief look at how women and men faired in the study.

Items in Which Women Outscored Men

Skill Measured Description of Skill Measured
Down/Up Communication Keeping subordinates and superiors informed about developments that affect them.
Results & Productivity Gets results, accomplishes objectives and sees projects to completion.
Thoroughness Attends to detail and develops comprehensive approaches to problems.
Directiveness Letting subordinates know, in a clear manner, what tasks should be done.
Inspirational Role Model Gives the organization hope and inspiration through optimism, energy, determination and commitment, especially in tough times.
Dependability Can be counted on to meet commitments and deadlines.
Decisiveness Makes clear-cut decisions with a sense of priority avoiding delays and procrastination.
Developing Subordinates Helping subordinates improve performance through coaching, guidance, and training.
Emphasizes Excellence Sets challenging goals and high standards of excellence, while refusing to accept mediocre or substandard performance.
Monitoring/Controlling Checking the performance of subordinates, and providing corrective feedback when needed.
Motivating Others Showing enthusiasm and providing recognition, encouragement, and coaching to subordinates.
Organizing Others Clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations of subordinates.
Self Discipline Displays persistence and focus despite unexpected difficulties and distractions.
Sensitivity & Consideration Shows respect for others and is sensitive to their needs, concerns, and perspectives.
Achievement & Motivation Has energy and motivation to work hard, strive to be successful, attain goals, and master tasks.
First Impression Creates a positive impact through social confidence, sincerity, dress, and fluency with verbal concepts.
Short-term Planning Effectively establishes short-term goals, roles and responsibilities, milestones, and priorities.
General Leadership The ability to influence and direct others, and to motivate, help and train subordinates.
Independence The ability to be self-starting and work independently of others when necessary.
Company Representation Serving as a figurehead, and effectiveness in promoting the interest of subordinates.
Facilitating Teamwork The ability to promote teamwork, cooperation, and identification with the work group.
Assuming Responsibility The willingness to take charge and to exert influence, without being asked to do so.
Listening Listens attentively, doesn't interrupt, accurately hears what is said, asks questions to clarify meaning, communicates understanding and shows interest.
Sociability The ability to relate to others in an outgoing, friendly, warm and personal manner.
Recruitment, Selection, Hiring Commits time and energy to the selection process, defines position requirements, conducts thorough interviews, considers legal (EEO) guidelines, makes good hiring decisions, and builds a team with diverse skills and strengths.
Integrity/Model of values Engenders respect from others through moral and ethical behavior, standards of personal conduct, and promoting and modeling the principles and values that are central to the success of the organization.
Synthesizing/Articulating Vision Articulates to the organization a clear, coherent, compelling vision of the desired future that inspires, motivates, and focuses the organization.
Interpersonal Relations The ability to form and maintain, over time, effective interpersonal relationships.
Formal Presentation Delivers poised, interesting, high-impact, informative, and organized presentations that meet the expectations and needs of the audience.
Subordinate Involvement Consulting with subordinates and soliciting their suggestions.
Social Astuteness Accurately reads, and responds astutely and diplomatically in dealing with others; understands the dynamics of the organization.
Strategic Focus Able to think strategically, create an ongoing, dynamic strategic planning process, and communicate the organization's direction.
Facilitating Conflict Resolution Facilitates conflict resolution between coworkers by surfacing and clarifying areas of disagreement and by creating an environment where resolution is possible.
Negotiation Negotiates win-win outcomes by being well prepared, gaining trust, searching for creative and mutually beneficial solutions, and being willing to compromise when appropriate.
Persuasiveness The ability to sell others on ideas, approaches, products, services, etc.
Ambition The desire for promotion or to increase responsibility or influence.
Creativity & Innovation Personally generates new ideas, approaches, and solutions, and creates an atmosphere that encourages innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Delegation Places trust in others by giving them additional responsibilities and providing the appropriate information, autonomy, authority, tools, and resources necessary to carry out those responsibilities.
Risk Taking Challenges the status quo, tries out new approaches, champions change, and acts in the face of uncertainty.
Open Mindedness The willingness to consider new ideas and approaches as well as input from others.


Items in Which Men Outscored Women

Analytical Ability The ability to analyze complex problems and identify relevant information.
Flexibility The ability to adapt to changing situations in order to attain a goal.
Retaining Staff The ability to retain staff, and keep turnover to an acceptable level.
Objectivity Maintains a realistic perspective and keeps personal biases to a minimum.
Emotional Control Maintains composure during times of stress, pressure, or disagreement, and maintains a positive outlook in the face of adversity.
Self-Esteem A high level of self-worth and confidence.


Copernicus, a marketing consulting and research firm in Auburndale, Mass., investigated perceptions of male versus female marketing executives in terms of 34 different aspects of decision-making and management styles. Men tend to be more externally focused, paying "too much attention to what competitors are doing" (56 percent to men, 43 percent to women), and short-term oriented (67 percent to men, 46 percent to women). Headquarters: Copernicus Marketing Consulting and Research 450 Lexington Street Auburndale, MA 02466 Phone: (617) 630-8750 Fax: (617) 630-9648

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