Women have better interpersonal skills as they are more likely to show empathy, deal with conflict management and have a higher sense of self-awareness, according to Hay Group research from it 17 000-person behavioural competency database.
Hay Group Global Leadership spokesperson Ruth Malloy says the findings highlight that women often face career barriers that require them to develop these skills to advance in their organisations.
Natalie Maroun, chief strategist and senior partner of LRMG Performance Agency, agrees with these global findings but says while the corporate environment can be a tough place for many women, the greatest challenge they face is themselves.
“Women who are intensely competitive often compete at the expense of collaboration. There are still glass ceilings and men’s clubs but women need to recognise that they are powerful with and through other women.”
In the survey, women were also found to be more persuasive, perceptive and self-aware, although self-awareness was the single area where both female and male managers need to up their game. Both sexes scored below 20% in this rating.
Maroun explains that self-awareness is about self leadership. “It’s the ability to read your emotions and recognise their impact on you and others, and to use your feelings to guide your decisions.”
Empathy is the ability to recognise and understand the emotions experienced by others. She says this is key for leaders to develop relationships, adding that men should also be honing these skills to improve their leadership qualities.
“How you relate to your employees, clients and suppliers will build trust, confidence and loyalty. Being an empathetic leader means listening, being non-judgemental and applying emotional intelligence.”
Change needs to begin at the core of a leader. “To lead with vision and purpose, a level of self-leadership is required. Success arises from a leader’s character and that of their team.”
According to the survey, women are also better at resolving conflict. Maroun says conflict is something that all leaders deal with in various situations including between other leaders, clients and commonly between employees.
“Women deal well with conflict as they are good at handling some of the main areas that cause it like poor communication, lack of transparency and ego imbalances, all which can be costly business mistakes.”
Maroun says it is time for women to embrace their differences.
“Very often women work much harder than men because they feel they have much more to prove.”