Research: Women are better leaders during a crisis

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January 6, 2021

Research: Women are better leaders during a crisis

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Illustration by Lucy Jones

Summary: There has been a lot said about how women have done a better job leading during the Covid-19 crisis than men. According to an analysis of 360-degree assessments conducted between March and June of this year, women were rated by those who work with them as more effective. The gap between men and women in the pandemic is even larger than previously measured, possibly indicating that women tend to perform better in a crisis. In fact, women were rated more positively on 13 of the 19 competencies that comprise overall leadership effectiveness in the authors’ assessment.

When discussing the careers of women leaders, there’s a phenomenon referred to as the “glass cliff.” It’s an obvious relative to the term glass ceiling, which describes the invisible barrier to advancement that women often face when they are up for promotion to the highest levels of an organization. The “glass cliff” describes the idea that when a company is in trouble, a female leader is put in charge to save it. When women are finally given a chance to prove themselves in a senior position, they are handed something that is already broken and where the chances of failure are high.

We see this happen frequently enough that it made us wonder, are women in fact more qualified to lead during a crisis? Could that be why they are handed the reins when times are tough?

Click here to read the full article published by the Harvard Business Review on 30 December 2020.

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Author: 
Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman
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