Results showed that women value an emotionally intelligent, communicative leader while men value a commanding leader. Furthermore, 60% of women valued emotional intelligence in a leader – compared to only 35% of men.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on October 28, 2019

Men and women think very differently about what qualities leaders should have in the healthcare industry, according to a new report by management consultants, Oliver Wyman.

Authors, management consultants Oliver Wyman, said the results revealed one major reason for the lack of women in healthcare leadership positions despite women representing 80% of buying decisions and 65% 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 showed that women value an emotionally intelligent, communicative leader while men value a commanding leader with 60% of women valuing emotional intelligence in a leader – compared to only 35% of men.

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The “Women as the Heartbeat of Healthcare” Oliver Wyman report, which involved Zogby Analytics, highlighted several other key findings:

  1. A majority (66%) of women believe they personally have a high commitment to advancing women but only 27% believe their company does
  2. Only 50% of employees find informal mentorship effective and 32% find formal sponsorships effective in advancing women in leadership positions
  3. Thirty-nine percent of men feel complete support to improve the representation of women in leadership; while only 21% 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 at the second annual HLTH conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“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.”

The Oliver Wyman 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. Organisations also need to measure processes that enable affinity
  • Provide senior-level support to those personally invested in diversity
  • Define what leadership attributes your organisation values and recognise genders disagree about what qualifies as “good” leadership

The report is the second in a series focused on women in healthcare leadership. The initial report titled “Women in Healthcare Leadership” was launched in January and identified five unintended leadership barriers women face when trying to move to the c-suite.

*The Report was taken from a survey of 529 people taken in June and July 2019 across a variety of healthcare companies, including health insurance companies, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, health tech companies, and industry associations. The sample included 298 women and 222 men, 7 individuals who declined to answer, and 2 who identified as neither male nor female.