Research Summary: The Qualities that Distinguish Women Leaders



Study: The Qualities that Distinguish Women Leaders (Greenburg, Caliper 2005)

Finding: Women’s abilities to share freely, collaborate, and build teamwork, distinguishes them as great leaders.

InPower Insight: Include women in leadership to bolster your company culture’s risk management, team-orientation and emotional intelligence profile .


Good news for women leaders! Your distinct personalities and motivational strengths are creating a leadership profile that translates better in today’s diverse workplace.  In this Caliper study researchers evaluated 59 women from 19 different business sectors in the U.S. and U.K. to determine what qualities distinguished women leaders with the majority of the focus on personality qualities and motivational factors.  This study included The Caliper Profile personality assessment as well as demographic analysis and interviews. The women’s results were compared to men in similar job titles from Caliper’s database. There were four key findings from this research.

  1. Women leaders are more persuasive, assertive, determined, and willing to take risks than their male counterparts were found to be. Male leaders were prone to push their point of view and convince, rather than to be flexible and persuade. Because women have strong people skills and are able to better asses a situation from all angles, they are more convincing in their solutions to problems.
  2. While women scored slightly lower than men on ego-strengths, they had higher, interpersonal skills, empathy, flexibility and sociability, and thus showed a determined and resilient nature that is often fueled by the roadblocks and setbacks along the way. When women are challenged by adversity, they are more apt to retry. They are more willing to review an obstacle, learn from their mistakes and start from the beginning. Statistically women are 80% more flexible in resilience.
  3. The third finding was that women have a much more inclusive and teamwork-building way of thinking. They are more likely to solve problems with group efforts and encourage each member of the group to contribute ideas towards the solution. They will not decide until all ideas have been heard, reflected, and tested.
  4. Women leaders are more likely to break the rules and take risks. Caliper found that women rated higher in urgency and risk taking. They are also found to resist whenever they are restricted in their decision- making abilities.

Career Coaching Tip: Know that just like all successful executives, your authentic strengths give you all the tools you need to succeed, even in male-oriented leadership cultures. The abilities you have are valuable and needed in your company culture. Don’t let anyone try to dissuade you from doing what you do best, but at the same time be open to expanding your skills and abilities to be flexible in responding to different kids of challenges. Value your resilience and determination as it will help you get ahead.

Keywords: Age, Assertive, Children, Inclusive, Interpersonal, Married, Paradigm of Leadership, Persuasive, Resilience, Risk

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