A recent report released by KPMG focuses on how high-performing executive women feel about adapting their leadership style to navigate complex business environments. Of those interviewed, 66 percent say they must change their leadership styles more than their male counterparts as they rise to higher levels within an organization.
The report, “Advancing the Future of Women in Business: A KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Report” polled 550 women who are 1-2 career steps away from the C-suite. The study examined five leadership styles: authentic, democratic, laissez-faire, transactional and transformational. The highest percentage of women executives (49%) identified as authentic leaders, but, at the same time, they reported struggling to determine exactly how much authenticity is appropriate.
Other key findings of the study include:
- Eighty-one percent believe that women must be more adaptable in situations than men in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers.
- Because of feedback like being “too bossy or demanding,” “not aggressive enough,” “not collaborative enough,” and “too direct,” 58% of women surveyed admit to changing their leadership style to combat such perceptions.
- Forty-nine percent of executive women identify most with an authentic leadership style but struggle to define how much authenticity is too much. Women executives believe their authenticity must decrease as they rise in the ranks.
- More than half (58%) of women executives surveyed believe a transformational leadership style is needed to reach the C-Suite.
The report also offers recommendations about how women can develop a more adaptive leadership style.
KPMG is a professional service firms that provides business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services. The firm’s U.S. Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie was named to the post in 2015, becoming the first woman to lead KPMG’s U.S. firm and the second woman CEO of a Big 4 firm in the U.S.
(The first woman to lead a Big 4 firm was Cathy Engelbert at Deloitte. She now serves as Commissioner of the WNBA – Women’s National Basketball Association).