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
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
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
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.
BUSINESS TIMES 3 February 2007
by Chuang Peck Ming
Where women bosses have the edge over
They're more persuasive and empathetic:
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
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
BUSINESS TIMES 30 May 2006