Women paving way for superior leadership roles: KPMG study

Women are also more risk-averse and focus on the long-term interests than do their male counterparts. With leadership today being more results-oriented than process-driven, organisations will see better results if the intrinsically diverse leadership qualities of their women executives are further nurtured.

These findings were part of a survey conducted by “Forum for Women in Leadership” (WILL Forum) in partnership with KPMG, on ‘Creating Women Business Leaders: Differentiating Styles of Women Executives’.

While much research has been conducted on gender stereotypes, the survey specifically intends to bring to light the personality and motivational factors that serve as the core to underlying gender differences.  

Over a span of the last decade, leadership styles in corporate India have been revolutionised in terms of an increased level of forthrightness and a sustained emphasis on inclusive growth.

Key findings— macro level

The survey findings state that decision making and access to important data in any organisation is at the disposal of both men and women leaders in accordance with their roles in the organisation. 43 per cent of the respondents strongly agreed with the view that men and women actually have equal opportunities to grow in their careers and/or rise to positions of top leadership in the corporate sector.

A meager 15 per cent of respondents expressed concerns with regard to prevailing biases on the basis of gender, age, marital status and other related gender stereotypes either at the managerial level or across the organisation.

Poonam Barua, Founder Convener of the Forum for Women in Leadership said, “The survey and its findings suggest that corporate India seems to be working on the traditional definition of hierarchical, conservative form of leadership, while Indian women professionals are definitely on the rise and are paving the way for re-defining leadership for future generations.” She further added, “ Many aspiring contenders are especially reaping the benefits of inclusion programmes with specific women-centric initiatives that many forward-looking organisations have launched. However, the challenging lifecycle stages that women invariably go through do make their journey in the professional world both unique and challenging.”

Management capabilities

A majority of the executives surveyed agreed that women executives were rather adept at managing teams and client relationships.

The findings also indicate a higher degree of persuasiveness among women executives in their willingness to take risks. These characteristics augur well in accelerating the pace of development of corporate strategies and provide organizations with a shield against unforeseen events. In addition, women have time and again proved to be effective crisis management leaders.  Women are more risk-averse and also focus on long-term interests than do their male counterparts. Furthermore, women are certainly more conservative over money matters.

KPMG Executive Director Human Resource in India said,Sangeeta Singh, “ Our research evidence reveals that women leaders are self-critical of their own strengths and weaknesses and tend to rebound gracefully from setbacks. They tend to be intuitive crisis managers enabling fair and sound judgment. Further, they drive a democratic and inclusive approach by building an ecosystem and nurturing talent.”
Challenges

The survey shows that a whopping 87 per cent of respondents agree that striking a judicious balance between corporate life and family life is a predominant challenge that women management contenders are confronted with.

Also another 82 percent stated that the existence of gender stereotypes was another barrier that women executives were to break through to reveal their true leadership potential. In addition, about 91 per cent of respondents felt that mentoring and training would play a prolific role in developing and fine-tuning leadership skills, while 63 per cent contended that effective leadership did not depend on the number of years of work experience that a leader had.

The survey roped in 104 men and women who were  under the ambit of ‘top management’ in both public and private sector enterprises across different disciplines and sectors ranging from domains like IT/ITeS, hospitality, financial services and advertising to unconventional fields of pharmaceuticals, oil and gas and manufacturing among others.

The proportion of women respondents was higher (at 66.3 percent) than that of the men.

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