Women Executives Believe They Must Adjust Leadership Style More Often Than Men to Advance

executive women

A majority of executive women say they must both change their leadership styles and be more adaptable than their male counterparts in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers, according to a new study released today by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm.

“Advancing the Future of Women in Business: A KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Report” polled 550 high-performing executive women who are 1-2 career steps away from the C-suite and have participated in the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

“As KPMG’s chairman and CEO, I’m especially passionate about our firm’s commitment to advancing more women into the C-suite,” said Lynne Doughtie. “It’s important for organizations everywhere to gain a more thorough understanding of the specific challenges women on the verge of breaking into the C-suite face. Our latest study provides valuable insights into these challenges. We hope it inspires women to aim high and lead with purpose.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • 66 percent say they must change their leadership styles more than their male counterparts as they rise to higher levels within an organization.
  • 81 percent believe that women must be more adaptable in situations than men in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers.
  • Because of feedback like being “too bossy or demanding,” “not aggressive enough,” “not collaborative enough,” and “too direct,” 58 percent of women surveyed admit to changing their leadership style to combat such perceptions.
  • 49 percent of executive women identify most with an authentic leadership style but struggle to define how much authenticity is too much. Women executives believe their authenticity must decrease as they rise in the ranks.
  • More than half (58 perecnt) of women executives surveyed believe a transformational leadership style is needed to reach the C-Suite.

The women executives included in the in-depth survey represent a range of industries across more than 150 of the world’s leading organizations and were nominated by their CEOs to attend the Summit.

Additional findings:

  • Transformational (39 percent) and democratic (34 percent) leadership styles are viewed as the best styles to motivate employees.
  • While only 2 percent of women identified as transactional leaders, executive women found the transactional leadership style useful in times of crisis, high-risk situations or dealing with a variety of personnel challenges.
  • 81 percent of women believe in situational leadership as a means for being successful.

For more information or to download the full report, click here.

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