Business Group Blog

What Makes an Effective Leader Anyway?

In an interview for the Knowledge@Wharton radio show, chief talent scientist at Manpower Group and professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains how personality traits typically thought of as feminine, despite not always being recognized in the workplace, may actually make for more effective leaders. These include characteristics like empathy, humility, coachability, curiosity, and the ability to be self-critical versus the over-confidence, charisma, bravery and fearlessness that are often rewarded. However, despite women possessing these traits more often than men, giving them slight advantages as competent leaders, males are instead highly overrepresented in these roles.

Effective leadership isn’t just a nice to have. Only 30% of the workforce reports liking their job, and we know that many employees leave their company because of a bad boss. On the flip side, companies that have leaders with higher IQ and EQ out-perform their competition. They have higher revenues, better engagement, higher productivity and are more innovative. This often goes hand-in-hand with a data-driven talent identification process that is meritocratic in nature versus one that shows favoritism or is highly political.

So what’s an organization to do? Supporting women leaders is important, although Chamorro-Premuzic says that gender quotas are not the answer. If we continue to reward skills that don’t lead to competency, the result will be poor leaders of both genders, contributing to a trend of unhappy employees and disengagement. Rather, hiring managers should look for people skills, integrity and other desirable leadership and personality traits, regardless of gender (see what global leaders rated as the top leadership competencies below). And leaders should be judged for their impact on their teams, versus their how much they money they bring in or what their title is.

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