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Are Women the Future of Management?


By Manuelle Malot , Director of Careers and Prospective at EDHEC Business School

At a time when companies deplore the lack of enthusiasm for the managerial function and when the younger generations expect managers to behave differently from their predecessors, could women be the future of management?
For the new generations, a manager whose authority is only statutory has little chance of succeeding. Young people want a manager whom they will respect for his/ her competence and who will guide him/ her in the development of their skills. We have moved from an authority of status and control that cannot be discussed to an authority of competence with inspiring management. This requires a posture of authentic, respectful, honest, humble, transparent and close accompaniment. In short, a well-intentioned and inspiring management… A transformation that represents a real challenge for companies!

In this regard, a study by the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre, which examined nearly 66,000 personality and motivation tests, reveals the professional behaviour of women who are authentic, flexible, sensitive and altruistic. In other words, attitudes that are all assets in view of new managerial expectations.

The strength of this study lies in the originality of its methodology. It is not a specific questionnaire for women on their abilities and willingness to manage, which inevitably leads to bias, but an examination of the answers to tests taken by individuals to get to know themselves better.

Emotional intelligence

Women inspire trust: women are committed to transparency (+12%) and authenticity, and are 13% more likely to be objective in their work than men. Women, who are sincerer, are therefore more likely to be trusted by their superiors and colleagues. Moreover, this tendency is reinforced with experience, and this trust facilitates their ability to manage.
They are also better peacekeepers in conflict situations. Indeed, they are more likely to find common ground and 13% are more flexible than men at work. This greater ease in resolving conflicts is undoubtedly reinforced by their greater extraversion than men (+8%). This extraversion tends to increase slightly with age and will be essential in managerial negotiation situations.
Compared to men, women are 38% more likely to show emotional sensitivity at work. Being able to be calm and distant as well as passionate depending on the situation, women have access to their emotions more easily. This inclination allows them to demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy, which are essential qualities for managers, especially for the new generations who are keen to receive regular feedback on their work.
Finally, on a behavioural level, women are more instinctive when it comes to making decisions. They have a better grasp of situations and do not hesitate to use their intuition. Coupled with their past experiences, this inclination can facilitate the fluidity of managerial decisions.

Do women really want to manage?

Where men have stronger preference for competition, women are more interested in stable situations. They declare that they prefer professional stability (+17% compared to men) to professional development. While this attitude does not always favour their career progression, it also reflects greater loyalty and fidelity to their company, which is essential for assuming a managerial role.
They are also more likely to make the best of their professional situation and, as such, set an example for younger generations who tend to be impatient when things are not perfect in their jobs. While women seek clear direction and feedback from their superiors, they are also more open to criticism and questioning, an interesting feature for modernised management. They also accept more easily a rather structured environment, which is reassuring for large organisations that are still struggling to break away from their organisational frameworks.
Finally, in terms of integration and team spirit, women prefer to adopt an altruistic attitude (+14% compared to men). They are therefore an asset when it comes to welcoming, integrating and getting new employees to contribute, which is a key concern for world leaders.
In conclusion, if this study can confirm women’s ability to manage, it should also convince companies of their motivation to take on these responsibilities and thus resolve this crisis of managerial vocations.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

Manuelle Malot - EDHECThe author Manuelle Malot has been Director of Careers and Prospective at EDHEC Business School for over 20 years. Operating from campuses in Lille, Nice, Paris, London, and Singapore, EDHEC is one of the top 15 European business schools. Fully international and directly connected to the business world, EDHEC commands a strong reputation for research excellence and the ability to train entrepreneurs and managers capable of breaking new ground. Malot founded the NewGen Talent Centre, a centre of expertise on the motivations, behaviours and skills of new generations in 2012. She is the expert on graduate programmes in France, on which she has published several studies, articles and books, and gives lectures in France and abroad.