Women can better lead through crises, research suggests

Female leaders may be more qualified to lead organizations through crises, two leadership experts wrote in an article published in Harvard Business Review.

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, founders of the leadership development firm Zenger Folkman,  analyzed the leadership efficacy of 454 men and 366 women between March and June. They found women were rated "significantly more positively" by their coworkers than men on their leadership effectiveness and outscored their male peers on 13 of 19 leadership competencies, including "takes initiative," "inspires and motivates others" and "displays high integrity and honesty."

These results are consistent with a 2019 analysis finding that female leaders were ranked more positively than men. In fact, this performance gap grew in the most recent analysis.

As the analysis was conducted during COVID-19's tumultuous impact on many organizations, it could indicate that female leaders are more qualified to guide organizations through crises, the researchers said. 

The analysis also found that female leaders drove significantly more engagement in their workers than men.
These findings echo previous research regarding female leaders' competency in crisis — COVID-19 included. One study found that countries led by women managed COVID-19 better, and an American Psychological Association study found that U.S. states with female governors fared better during the pandemic as well.

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