Gender Leadership

Adapted from the book: The Talent Advantage: How to Attract and Retain the Best and the Brightest by coauthors Dr. Alan Weiss and Dr. Nancy MacKay, published by Wiley.

Top talent: passion + competence + need = extraordinary results.

Business Case: research shows (e.g., Columbia University, McKinsey, Catalyst) that having more women in senior positions and on boards means more financial success. Women earn 57% of all bachelor’s degrees (1/3 of all business graduate degrees).

However, according to Statistics Canada, we have gone from 27% to 22% of women in senior positions over the past 10 years.

Gender Leadership: all leaders must understand and adapt to gender differences to get people to show up as top talent.


Three Key Gender Differences:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Women score higher: interpersonal relationships; social responsibility; and empathy. Men score higher: self-regard and stress tolerance.
  • Decision-making approach: Women are more open, inclusive and collaborative.
  • Flexibility over promotion: Women choose flexibility over promotion more often. Generation X and Y choose flexibility over promotion more often too.


Here are five key strategies to enhance your ability to get people to show up as top talent:

  1. Create a culture of accountability for results and behaviours.
    • Focus on defining outcomes and creating a culture of accountability for results and behaviours.
    • Clarify “Who has the D?”
  2. Foster a more flexible work environment.
    • Use a tailored approach to flexibility to get people to show up as top talent.
    • Study your competition and listen to your employees.
  3. Be transparent and educate.
    • Educate all employees on the business case for gender, age, ethnic diversity.
    • Be transparent about all strategies.
  4. Establish formal mentoring and sponsorship programs.
    • Identify top talent and be strategic about assigning mentors and sponsors to accelerate development and retain talent.
    • Men still get more promotions than women.
  5. Use Power Language.
    • Brevity, Action Verbs, Stories, Relevant
    • Be inclusive, avoid swearing and inappropriate humour and comments.