07/10/18 | Gender, Leadership

Are women better team leaders than men?

We are not trying to start a gender war, but we are an organization that is consistently digging for the latest research and insight on how to optimize people potential.

Some of the findings that we’ve come across have … well, given us food for thought. So let’s talk about what we’ve found and how it relates to leadership and gender.

Recently, Gallup published a research “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders” conducted over four decades about managers and their leadership skills. The research showed findings that women make better managers than men. Why is that? To be honest, when reading these findings, we weren’t sure that it was fair to make such a broad generalization on the topic. However, we’re all ears when it comes to learning exactly what about women, or men, makes them great leaders.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Team members under female managers are 1.29 times more likely to receive feedback about their work progress and 1.17 times more likely to receive praise and recognition for good work.[/su_pullquote]

The Gallup study showed data that 41% of female managers have better engagement skills and are more involved with their workforce as compared to only 35% of male managers. Engagement with your organization and your team can make a pretty massive difference when it comes to being a great leader. If your employees feel that you are immersed in their day-to-day successes, frustrations, etc. then you are doing something right! While the difference between 41% and 35% isn’t giant, it does point out that more women seem to possess the skills needed to engage their team.

One thing to ask ourselves is “how do we measure what a good manager is?” For some, a great manager is measured by the output or the productivity of their team. According to the Gallup study, team members of female managers performed better on 11 out of 12 engagement items as compared to team members of male managers. So based on these findings alone, are female managers fostering more productive team members than male managers are? Let’s look further…

The Gallup study also showed that team members under female managers are 1.29 times more likely to receive feedback about their work progress and 1.17 times more likely to receive praise and recognition for good work. These findings correlate more towards the managers themselves and how they interact with their team. Female managers more often give feedback and recognition to their team members, which again may lead to more productivity.

So what does any good manager do that empowers their team to better performance?

Good engagement means several things. It is important to recognize and applaud employee efforts, especially when it’s well deserved. Giving your team members an opportunity to progress their skills and foster great communication with them is vital. By creating a good work environment, you are allowing your employees to work at their maximum potential and produce better results.

The Harvard Business Review surveyed 7,280 leaders worldwide from top-level organizations and according to their results, two of the highest-valued traits in managers, 1) “taking the initiative” and 2) ”working towards results”, are present in a majority in women managers. They far outranked their male colleagues in statistical data of “taking the initiative”.

Gallup’s conclusion was that organizations should hire more female managers as compared to male managers. At the time the report was published only 33% of managerial positions were filled by women.

Our conclusion: when developing the leadership plan for your startup, consider having more women in your leadership team. We aren’t here to say that you should gender bias AGAINST men, but you should certainly realize that female managers can bring the same amount (if not more, according to Gallup) of success in a managerial position.

References (good articles about comparing men to women as managers)

Are Women Better Managers Than Men?

40 Years of Research Proves that Women are Better Manager Than Men

Why Women are Better Managers Than Men

Women Make Better Managers, Study Says

Debate: Are Women Better Managers Than Men?


This article (and reference list of other articles) originally appeared at the WERKLABS blog and is republished here with permission.

Cayla Morrin

Cayla Morrin

Brenda Hali is Marketing Manager at WERKLABS, a California based venture that aims to bring people together to achieve great things. WERKLABS helps fast-growing startups to find the right talent, to build performing teams in a flat structure, and by sharing knowledge at innovation events.

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