Do women make good bosses? Yes, say most top execs
Ethics, integrity most desired leadership traits, poll shows

Most senior executives think women can make good bosses, though a sizable number reckon men are more natural at it, a poll by the Singapore Human Resources Institute has found.

Sixty-four per cent of the executives polled said gender makes no difference when it comes to being a good leader. Still, 31 per cent felt that men make better leaders, while only 4 per cent thought women do so.

Yet it is the soft skills that senior executives - most of them human resource directors and above - generally seek when looking for a dream leader. Ethics and integrity top the list of desired leadership qualities, according to 53 per cent of the 192 executives polled.

Lead by example (52 per cent) was ranked second, followed by vision (51 per cent), communication (48 per cent), accountability (37 per cent), building trust (36 per cent), knowledgeable and wise (33 per cent), motivator (29 per cent), supportive (28 per cent) and inspiring (25 per cent).

'At least four in 10 respondents saw three of the desired behaviours demonstrated by their supervisors,' the report says. 'These were ethics and integrity (50 per cent), accountability (49 per cent) and communication (46.5 per cent).'

Only one in three indicated that their bosses, many of whom are chief executives and managing directors, have two other key traits - leading by example and being visionary.

Most of the executives polled work in the manufacturing sector and almost half at multinational corporations.

Many do not see their bosses as visionary, inspiring, motivating or knowledgeable and wise. Nor do they think most bosses lead by example. And bosses do not put in enough effort to build trust and are not supportive.

'This could indicate that the leaders at a senior level may lack these qualities or that their actions and vision might not be clearly communicated or communicated,' the report says.

While the poll indicated that the senior executives are generally happy with their bosses' performance - and there is good camaraderie between them - 54 per cent of respondents felt there is still room for leadership training.

Bosses are also not engaging their staff fully to motivate and develop their skills and abilities, according to the poll.

Still, the bosses fared well on personal rapport. More than seven in 10 of the executives polled are impressed that bosses know their audience when they address them. And more than half appreciate that bosses talk about principles or values behind their decisions and often explain their actions.

On the other hand, many of the respondents believe their bosses must improve personal communication skills. Fifty-eight per cent of those polled complained that their achievements are seldom, or never, recognised by their bosses.

Yet many bosses practise empowerment, giving more than half of respondents polled the freedom to do what they believe is right - and involving them in decision-making.

But this should not come as a surprise, the report says. At least 42 per cent of the executives hold director-and-above appointments. 'Moreover, they are leaders in their own field.'

The poll also found that 41 per cent of executives quit jobs because of sour relations with bosses, while only 12 per cent resigned because their bosses had quit.     -   SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES     3 February 2007  by  Chuang Peck Ming

Where women bosses have the edge over men
They're more persuasive and empathetic: survey

Top women business leaders are generally more persuasive than their male counterparts, and tend to actively involve their staff when solving problems and making decisions, a recent study has revealed.

The study by Caliper, a global human resources consulting firm that offers services aimed at achieving optimum organisational performance, found that women leaders have higher ego drives, empathy and sociability - meaning they have greater convincing power than their male peers.

The survey also found that although women are hit harder by rejection, they tend to learn from adversity and make comebacks with a positive 'I'll show you' attitude.

One such woman who exemplifies such an attitude is Dun & Bradstreet's chief financial officer, Sara Mathew: 'I let my CEO know that the problem was not the direction. It was the poor execution - and I owned that, and my team and I could fix it.'

Top female leaders are just as likely to explore new territories and take risks. Notably, top women leaders in Singapore generally possess a commanding presence - just like their male counterparts.

'If some organisations are still apprehensive over appointing women to top positions, then this study should reassure them once and for all,' said president and CEO of Caliper, Dr Herbert Greenberg. 'Top female business leaders are just as effective as their male counterparts.'

The study findings are based on the Caliper profile - a personality assessment tool which identifies the potential, motivations and strengths of job applicants and company employees. In addition, a series of interviews were conducted for the survey.

Commented CEO of Shell Marine Products (Singapore), Loh Wai Kiew: 'Men and women bosses face similar challenges, although women have an extra hurdle in being stereotyped.'

A total of 177 top female business leaders from Singapore, Japan, China, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in the survey. These women - including 52 CEOs and managing directors - came from a range of industries, including banking, business and finance. Of these, 30 came from Singapore. - by Grace Chong    SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES     30 May 2006


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