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The Themes of Career Success: Big Picture

After twenty-seven years of conducting gender diagnostics with organizations across the globe, and in the process, amassing over 240,000 survey responses with men and women leaders, the results of this North American survey are some of the highest scores we’ve seen for women in their perceptions of self and career success.

Our first diagnostic visual shows the scores given by our senior women respondents in the order that each theme was presented to them: Career Advancement, Self-Initiation, Leadership Maturity, Big Picture, and Leadership Responsibility.

This one graphic represents the overall findings of our study. As you can see in the center or bull’s eye of our Diagnostic Wheel, the scores for each of the five themes cluster around a center—or core of positive outlook— with Big Picture receiving the highest self-score of 87%. Leadership Responsibilities received the second highest at 86% followed by Leadership Maturity (82%), Self-Initiation (77%), and Career Advancement (74%).

What is most interesting and valuable in this graphic is their strength and self-confidence in their thoughts and actions, looking for the win-win approach, and centering their attention on achieving their organization’s strategic goals.

The circle around each score represents the standard deviation or indication of the level of agreement among the respondents. As this first illustration shows, Big Picture and Leadership Responsibilities have the highest scores and lowest deviations. What this says is that most all the women in our study are on the same page when it comes to their dedication to the success of the organization and self-confidence that their talents and skills are paving the right course. There is little self-doubt in their ability and readiness to lead.

Interestingly, the lowest scores and greatest deviations are in Career Advancement and Self-Initiation. It seems that the same challenges faced by many women in middle management still surface even among these successful women.

Let’s look into each of these themes to see why the women in our survey rated each of the five areas they way they did beginning with their strongest suit—their grasp and approach to the Big Picture.


1. Big Picture


Big_Picture_Graph_White_PaperOf the five themes in our survey, women score themselves highest in getting the Big Picture, defined as understanding the objectives of the company and their best contribution to achieving those goals.

They see themselves strongest in making connections and collaborating for the best ideas (89%), and treating others with dignity and influencing without control (88%).

Our panel of women takes a win-win approach to the Big Picture by cultivating trusting relationships, being aware of their impact on others, and understanding before concluding (85%). What also contributes to this top theme is their determination to achieve their vision and having their actions guided by that vision (84%).

These results really do speak to the differences in the way men and women view the big picture and their place in it. Our years of gender diagnostics show that while men and women leaders equally have and pursue a vision, women leaders who are comfortable and confident in their authenticity tend to take a different path that tends to be more inclusive and participative and are confident that their approach makes a difference.

A woman CEO recently put it this way: “Though I’m just as competitive and driven as the guys around me, I’ve made more and lasting connections than my male colleagues over the course of my career and I collaborate more often to develop my own ideas and that of others. I’m always looking for the bigger “We” and win-win outcomes for everyone involved.”

The above is excerpted from our White Paper in partnership with Thomson Reuters, “Solutions to Women’s Advancement.”