Men and Women Disagree on What It Takes to Lead Healthcare Companies According to Oliver Wyman

Men and women think very differently about what qualities leaders should have according to a new report from Oliver Wyman which was launched today at HLTH. This is one major reason for the lack of women in healthcare leadership positions — despite representing 80 percent of buying decisions and 65 percent of the workforce in the US.

Senior and junior men and women across the healthcare industry were asked to pick attributes such as communication skills, commitment, vision and emotional intelligence to best describe leaders. Results show that women value an emotionally intelligent, communicative leader while men value a commanding leader with 60 percent of women valuing emotional intelligence in a leader – compared to only 35 percent of men.

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The report titled “Women as the Heartbeat of Healthcare” highlights several other key findings:

  • A majority (66 percent) of women believe they personally have a high commitment to advancing women but only 27 percent believe their company does
  • Only 50 percent of employees find informal mentorship effective and 32 percent find formal sponsorships effective in advancing women in leadership positions
  • Thirty-nine percent of men feel complete support to improve the representation of women in leadership; while only 21 percent of senior women feel the same

“When considering women for leadership roles, both genders must be more open to how different leadership styles propel more men forward in their careers. It’s also a time to consider that diversity of perspectives and ideas is essential to innovation,” said Helen Leis, Oliver Wyman partner who shared the findings in the opening remarks at HLTH. “With more transparency on what leadership attributes healthcare companies are seeking, the next step needs to be making programs and support systems to advance women which are more aligned and more effective. There’s clearly room for improvement.”

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The report provides three key recommendations to tackle the “invisible” barriers to have more women in healthcare leadership including:

  • Commit to mentorships and sponsorships that engage employees in new ways and build natural connections. Organizations also need to measure processes that enable affinity.
  • Provide senior-level support to those personally invested in diversity.
  • Define what leadership attributes your organization values and recognize genders disagree about what qualifies as “good” leadership.

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities.

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