The extra ingredient needed for women to succeed

Women don’t have leadership roles nearly as often as men, and there are various reasons for this.

One study, by Margarita Mayo (IE Business School), Laura Guillen (ESMT) and Natalia Karelaia (INSEAD), analyzed the judgments that colleagues made regarding the competence and warmth of people working in a project team. These people were working at a multinational software development company.

As part of their performance evaluation, the workers were evaluated by their supervisor and peers on competence and warmth.

Results showed that men are seen as confident if they are seen as competent. However, women are seen as confident only if they come across as both competent and warm.

Women must be seen as warm in order to make their competency shine and to be seen as confident and influential in the workplace. Competent men are seen as confident and influential whether they are warm or not.

So basically, if men display competence, then they are also seen as being confident. And the more confident they are seen as being, the more influence they have in the organization. It seems that warmth is irrelevant when it comes to men.

For women, if there was an absence of warmth, then they were not viewed as confident. When women were seen as warm and competent, they were also seen as more confident and more influential. Women’s professional performance is not evaluated independently from their personal warmth.

Overall, this study suggests that if women are to succeed in today’s workplace, then encouraging them to have the confidence just isn’t enough. Women must also go out of their way to be seen as warm in the workplace.

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