New Research Shows Women Are Better at Using Soft Skills Crucial for Effective Leadership and Superior Business Performance, Finds Korn Ferry Hay Group

Women Outperform Men in 11 of 12 Key Emotional Intelligence

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to new research by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry (NYSE:
KFY), the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm,
women score higher than men on nearly all emotional intelligence
competencies, except emotional self-control, where no gender differences
are observed.

Data from 55,000 professionals across 90 countries and all levels of
management, collected between 2011-2015, using the Emotional
and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI)
developed and co-owned by Richard E. Boyatzis, Daniel Goleman and Hay
Group, found that women more effectively employ the emotional and social
competencies correlated with effective leadership and management than

“Historically in the workplace, there has been a tendency for women to
self-evaluate themselves as less competent, while men tend to overrate
themselves in their competencies,” said Boyatzis, Ph.D., Distinguished
University Professor, Case Western Reserve University. “Research shows,
however, that the reality is often the opposite. If more men acted like
women in employing their emotional and social competencies, they would
be substantially and distinctly more effective in their work.”

In fact, when assessing the competency levels of both men and women
across the 12 key areas of emotional and social intelligence, Hay Group
research found:

  • The greatest difference between men and women can be seen in emotional
    self-awareness, where women are 86% more likely than men to be seen as
    using the competency consistently (18.4% of women demonstrate the
    competency consistently compared to just 9.9% of men).
  • Women are 45% more likely than men to be seen as demonstrating empathy
  • The smallest margin of difference is seen in positive outlook. When it
    comes to this emotional intelligence competency, women are only 9%
    more likely to exhibit the competency consistently than men.
  • Other competencies in which women outperform men are coaching &
    mentoring, influence, inspirational leadership, conflict management,
    organizational awareness, adaptability, teamwork and achievement
  • Emotional self-control is the only competency in which men and women
    showed equal performance.

“The data suggests a strong need for more women in the workforce to take
on leadership roles,” said Goleman, Co-Director of the Consortium for
Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers
University. “When you factor in the correlation between high emotional
intelligence and those leaders who deliver better business results,
there is a strong case for gender equity. Organizations must find ways
to identify women who score highly on these competencies and empower

As organizations increasingly recognize the importance of providing
resources to further nurture and develop female leaders, women who score
highly in these emotional and social intelligence competencies will rise
to the top. Further, as these competencies underpin highly effective
performance, men have a great opportunity to learn from women in the
workplace how to best leverage these emotional and social competencies
to become more effective leaders. Through greater emotional
intelligence, both men and women are able to boost performance within
their organizations, accomplishing their goals through both internal and
external stakeholders.

In addition, according to Hay Group research, levels of emotional
intelligence displayed by a leader are strongly related with how long
their team members plan to stay with the organization. Leaders with
strong emotional intelligence create conditions that inspire team
members to stay and contribute to the organization long-term.
Conversely, leaders with low emotional intelligence have greater
potential to drive team members away from the organization.

Stephen Lams, Talent Product Manager at Korn Ferry Hay Group added,
“Throughout our work with clients, Hay Group has seen that the most
effective leaders within organizations are those who have the greatest
scores on emotional and social intelligence. Whether remaining calm
during times of turbulence, inspiring and building team consensus or
serving as an empathetic mentor and coach to nurture the next generation
of professionals, leaders who tap into their social and emotional
intelligence competencies positively impact their teams and drive
greater performance throughout the organization.”

Notes to Editors

About the data

The ESCI tool measures 12 emotional and social intelligence competencies
proven to impact business performance: achievement orientation,
adaptability, coaching and mentoring, conflict management, empathy,
emotional self-awareness, inspirational leadership, influence,
organizational awareness, positive outlook, teamwork and emotional

Data on how long team members planned to stay with their organization is
based on answers from individuals that assessed their leaders on EI
competencies, and also separately completed Hay Group’s Employee
Effectiveness survey which includes a question related to their planned

  • Typically, team members planning to stay for more than 5 years or
    until retirement report that their manager displays an average of
    eight EI competencies consistently.
  • Conversely, team members planning to stay for less than 12 months
    report that their manager displays an average of just three
    competencies consistently.
  • Leaders who are perceived as not demonstrating any EI competency
    consistently have twice as many employees planning to leave within 12
    months versus those who have one or more strengths (13.7% versus 6.0%).

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory
firm. We help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing
the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues
deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Futurestep
divisions. Visit
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For Korn Ferry
Evan Stisser, 212-221-4616