Male and female C-level executives are more similar than different in the way they approach problem solving, leadership, and interpersonal challenges. However, an analysis of more than 4,000 in-depth Korn/Ferry assessments found that the subtle distinctions that do exist give female leaders a slight edge, and suggest that they can be naturally rich sources of best-in-class executive behaviors.

From the moment the first female executive took a seat behind her desk, whether gender makes a difference in leadership style has been a high-stakes question with business and political implications. Alas, also one with no clear answers. For every
research study that proclaims a statistically significant difference between male and female leaders, another insists that none exist.

Both camps are right. Korn/Ferry International recently studied more than 4,000 men and women with C-suite positions across North America using the Korn/Ferry Decision Styles assessment, unique in the field in that it is able to discern internal thinking styles, external leadership styles, and emotional competencies. We found that there are both stunning similarities and significant differences between male and female leaders— and the latter may be hiding high-potential women.

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