KPMG Study: Women Execs Say They Must Adjust Leadership Style to Advance

A majority of executive women say they must both change their leadership styles and be more adaptable than their male counterparts in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers, according to Big 4 firm KPMG.

“Advancing the Future of Women in Business: A KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Report” polled 550 executive women who are one to two career steps away from the C-suite and have participated in the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie says, “It’s important for organizations everywhere to gain a more thorough understanding of the specific challenges women on the verge of breaking into the C-suite face. Our latest study provides valuable insights into these challenges. We hope it inspires women to aim high and lead with purpose.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • 66% say they must change their leadership styles more than their male counterparts as they rise to higher levels within an organization.
  • 81% 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 say they change their leadership style to combat such perceptions.
  • 49% 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.
  • 58% of women executives surveyed believe a transformational leadership style is needed to reach the C-Suite.

The women executives included in the in-depth survey represent a range of industries across more than 150 of the world’s leading organizations and were nominated by their CEOs to attend the Summit. Download the full report.

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