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The Themes of Career Success: Leadership Responsibility

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 continue to look into each of these themes to see why the women in our survey rated each of the five areas they way they did—next up, Leadership Responsiblity.


2. Leadership Responsibility

The women in our survey score diversity the most important factor in their responsibility as a leader (89%), which includes valuing diversity initiatives, hiring diverse people, and promoting on ability. They measure themselves as performance focused (88%) by setting high standards, holding people accountable, and motivating performance. There’s virtually no deviation in what they believe is the responsibility of leadership.

whitepaper-summary3They best define the style and strength of their leadership in how well they lead their teams (87%) by encouraging team support, promoting honest dialogue, and building team consensus. They see themselves as fostering the capability in others (87%) through positive feedback and encouraging stretching. Our women also score high on cultivating change (85%) by encouraging people to embrace change and by linking change to purpose. They measure themselves in their ability to make strategic choices (82%), guided by their vision.

There are often clear differences in the way men and women define leadership responsibility and act on it through their style of leadership. For instance, men see it as being transactional, hierarchal, and unilateral, while women tend toward greater interaction, collaboration, and participation. Both are natural and valuable styles of leadership. But men, predominant in number and influence, especially on executive teams and boards, often drown out women’s voices. And many merit-based systems are fashioned after the male model of leadership.

Yet the women in our study and many others discovered in our practice are holding fast to their values and style of leadership. They know that they can get to the same results, and often improve the outcomes, using a different path than men. This refreshing attitude is expressed quite clearly in their view of their maturity and self-confidence as leaders.

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