Former President Barack Obama and Recent Data Suggest That Women Make Better Leaders, and Water Is Wet

Former President Barack Obama (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

At an invitation-only event in Paris Saturday, former President Barack Obama urged attendees to consider “the importance of more focus on putting women in power, because men seem to be having some problems these days.”

Umm .... ya think?

Obama cited our “socialization” as the likely reason for women’s capacity to be better leaders. While I’m none too fond of female leaders being posited as the fallback plan for a dysfunctional patriarchy, rather than the highly qualified corrective measure, recent research—including a Gallup poll—seems to agree with our 44th president.

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As reported by CNBC Make It., a recently updated 2012 study by leadership-development firm Zenger Folkman revealed that “women scored higher than men in 13 out of the 16 leadership competencies Folkman’s research measure for, tying only for their tendency to be innovative.”

Also notable is that the study also considered women an “untapped resource,” despite our prevalence in the workforce. Company president and psychometrician Joe Folkman explained that this could likely be an issue of confidence—on the part of not just working women but also the companies that employ them.

“In organizations where women don’t feel like second-class citizens and they don’t feel abused, they actually feel empowered. They feel like they’re taken seriously and like they have a future there,” Folkman said.

Again: Ya think?

While it’s unknown whether the Zenger Folkman leadership research went further, polling the same categories along racial lines, it’s worth considering that black women are currently the highest-educated group in the United States—and are therefore presumably the most qualified for leadership positions. And yet a 2016 study produced by the American Association of University Women (pdf) indicates that black women occupy a mere 8 percent of private-sector jobs, and only 2 percent of leadership roles.

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So while the leadership potential is there, it remains untapped. And water is wet. I suppose that’s why the 2016 American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses report uncovered another trend:

Sisters are doing it for themselves.

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.