The number of males to females in top leadership positions is clearly not equitable, and in fact, nearly 70% of top leadership positions are held by men.  Further, when looking at the percentage of female board members at top organizations, the disparity is even greater. Despite these figures, it has long been speculated that women actually make better leaders than men.  In fact, in a 2011 study by Zenger and Folkman, women outperform men in 12 of the 16 competencies for effective leadership.  Let’s discuss five of these competencies where women outperform men.


Communication is the key to a successful relationships and successful engagement with your employees, colleagues, and even friends.  The ability to communicate includes active listening and genuinely being concerned about what is being said. By having an open, honest, authentic communication flow, team members feel valued and appreciated.  High levels of active communication can improve the quality of the workplace and instill more meaning in your organization. Communication inspires team members to do their very best, which will, in turn, benefit your organization’s outcomes.


Women are able to instill collaboration amongst team members and it is through collaboration that teams are able to sustain and succeed.  Future leadership success will revolve around how to keep teams working together towards a common goal and the organization’s vision. When teams collaborate, innovation can flourish and meaning can be created.

Honesty and Integrity

Honesty is the best policy.  Women outperform men in the competency of honesty and integrity, which are important for the long-term sustainability for any organization.  A leader must be consistent in what is said and the actions that follow. By following through with your word, trust is strengthened and it is through this trust that organizations flourish.  Employees want to work with people they trust. Think about this, have you ever had a boss or a colleague you didn’t trust? Would you want to put your personal success into their hands? Likely not!  It is through this honesty and integrity that one is able to build a strong foundation for the future.  

Practices Self-Development

Women excel at improving their skills and abilities.  Could this come from the imposter syndrome? Could it be from the internal fear of hitting the glass ceiling?  Whatever it may be, self-development improves the skills and abilities a female leader can bring to the table. Further, because they believe in self-development, a female leader will be more likely to invest in professional development for their employees, thereby increasing employee engagement and motivation, which leads to our final skill.

Developing Others

In today’s workplace, it is imperative to provide learning and development opportunities.  Many companies are providing opportunities to job share and learn other aspects of the organization to keep employees motivated and engaged.  In addition, investing in your employees’ personal and professional growth helps to keep skills relevant, which in turn affects the success of the organization. The care and keeping of your employees only benefits the organization in the long-run.

Create a Meaning-Centered Leadership Approach

The meaning-centered approach to leadership incorporates engagement through communication and collaboration and includes expertise through honesty and integrity.  The competencies in which women excel align with the meaning-centered leadership approach. Be sure to hone your communication and collaboration skills to bring out the best in yourself and your team members.  It would behoove organizations to establish a 50/50 policy whereby half of their leaders are female, including at the board level. By capitalizing on the positive competencies that women in leadership can bring to the table, this equality will benefit the bottom line of the organization’s goals.