Research Says: What Women Want in Their Leaders


Study: What Women Want in Their Leaders (Harvard Business Review, 2012, Vongalis-Macrow, Gallant)

Finding: The assumption that “what women want” is to work for women, isn’t necessarily true.

InPower Insight: Leadership is gender neutral.


In a study where mid-career women were surveyed and interviewed about the skills they admired in their leaders, and the leadership qualities they felt helped them advance, here were the five things researchers   determine that male and female leaders can do to lead well and support aspiring women.

  1. The presence of hard and soft leadership skills is key. Women were found to like leaders who had both communal and aggressive skills.
  2. Women like leaders who are quick- thinking and decisive in their actions. Apparently, there is such a thing as “too much” consultation and discussion.
  3. Women desire leaders who have a vision and direction for the future.
  4. Women appreciate leaders who have emotional intelligence.
  5. Women seeks leaders who essentially do just that, lead. They do not wish to work with individuals consumed with holding on to their position rather than taking important risks and innovation.

Career Coaching Tip: What women want in leadership are good leaders. Good leaders master a range of skills that are usually associated with both men and women. Whether you’re a man or a woman, know where your natural strengths are, appreciate them and master a few more that balance what you do naturally well. This strategy will work to support both the men and women working for you.

Keywords: women leaders, support, what women want, leadership

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