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Women and Men Senior Leaders – Similarities and Differences-
By: Mairi Eastwood

February 2013

This research compares the findings from the coaching conversations with 120 women we coached in a year with those for a parallel sample of 120 men from the 330 men we coached in a similar period.

We noted that a large proportion of both men and women leaders wanted help with establishing a personal leadership style that feels authentic to them, particularly when it is not the same style that prevails in their organisation (46% of the women; 58% of the men).  In fact, in the private sector, it was men’s top issue. It was also an issue under recognised by their senior sponsors.  Previously, we had put women’s emphasis on this down to lack of suitable role models. But men, particularly younger male leaders, are adopting a different style of leadership from the previous generation’s approach and may also not have sufficient role models.

And this way, generally a more consensual and relationship based style, with values and approach that recognises all the roles – business and personal that leaders have, is a style that comes naturally to many senior women.

So, for Chief Executives, getting it right for senior women will help to get it right for senior men of the future too.

Other findings include the fact that many women are still being labelled over-aggressive and that, at this point in time, more women still feel less confident and look for support across a wider range of issues.  Despite this, fewer are supported by coaching in their aspirations to be on the executive.

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