One pervasive societal myth standing between more women in leadership roles is the idea that women don’t make good leaders.

But a Gallup report based on over 40 years of research suggests otherwise.

The report concludes that female managers outperform their male counterparts in several areas. One of those is driving employee engagement.

Gallup’s definition of engaged employees is those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.

Specifically, the study found that employees who reported to a female manager were more likely to reply “yes” to the following statements:

  • “There is someone at work who encourages my development.”
  • “In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.”
  • “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.”

In light of the fact 87 percent of employees worldwide report being disengaged at work– and the fact companies with engaged employees outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share—the fact female managers inspire more employee engagement is huge.

In a recent Gallup Poll, female managers outscored male managers when gender was the only factor used to confirm how engaged managers were with their employees

Twelve engagement criteria (which did not include age, years of experience, industry, or race), and women outscored men on 11.

Gallup also found that female managers are also more engaged at work, with 41% of female managers being engaged compared with 35% of male managers.

This was true of regardless of whether they have children in their household. The poll concluded that, simply by being more engaged, female are likely to contribute more to their organization’s current and future success.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey reveals further evidence that women make great business leaders.

HBR surveyed 7,280 leaders of some of the most successful organisations worldwide, from both the private and public sectors.

The survey concluded that, while stereotypically female characteristics–such as being more nurturing and better at forging relationships—was a factor in why women ranked higher than men, the results proved women’s leadership capabilities in areas that went well beyond those stereotypes.

“Women’s advantages were not at all confined to traditionally women’s strengths. In fact at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts — and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows,” said the survey.

Women outscored men in leadership skills and competency at all managerial levels, and even disproved some antiquated notions about stereotypical traits that define men as being superior to women in business:

“…two of the traits where women outscored men to the highest degree — taking initiative and driving for results — have long been thought of as particularly male strengths. As it happened, men outscored women significantly on only one management competence in this survey — the ability to develop a strategic perspective…”

An Australian study commissioned by Steps Leadership Programs also came to the conclusion that female managers outperform their male counterparts.

The research involved collecting data from 1800 male and female CEOs and managers.

The research concluded that top female executives have better people skills than men and make “stronger” CEO, and described Australia’s senior female executives as strategic, innovative and more prepared to take risks than their male counterparts.

Other interesting findings from the study include: On the key issues of strategic drive, risk taking, people skills, aesthetics, altruism and innovation, women scored higher than men.

Women and men were found to be equals in the area of emotional stability.

In the areas of command, control, and focus on bottom line, men scored higher than women.

Gillian O’Mara, General Manager of the Steps Leadership Program, remarked that the financial focus of men, highlighted by the research, was nothing new.

“[Men believe] bottom line dollars are the only game in town,” said O’Mara. “Their key motives and preferences in life appear to be around revenue, budgets and profit. At work and at home, they are driven by financial opportunities.”

*Men were also more comfortable with the command and control style of leadership that represents ‘the last 100 years’ of management,” she said.

In an interview with, O’Mara remarked that the strong people skills inherent in female leadership is ideal for economic times where the ability to “attract, retain and promote talent would was becoming increasingly mission critical” to an organisation’s success.

All of this suggests one reason, and one reason only, why women outrank men so highly in leadership study after leadership study, yet remain widely untapped resources: Gender discrimination.

Clearly, gender itself isn’t the issue. It’s our perceptions about gender that limit women’s potential

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