Regarding Women and Leadership: What does bridging the leadership gap involve? What factors have converged to contribute to leadership effectiveness and the rise of female leaders? Give examples...

Regarding Women and Leadership:

  • What does bridging the leadership gap involve?
  • What factors have converged to contribute to leadership effectiveness and the rise of female leaders?
  • Give examples from your own experiences or observations that you feel apply to information/examples given in the reading and/or resources provided.
Expert Answers
Karyth Cara eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Leadership Gap

The leadership gap you are asking about is the difference between acquired leadership skills and needed leadership skills. The present business milieu is rapidly changing and leaders self-report a lack of preparedness for future leadership needs based on a present perception of lack in leadership skills. The gap between present skills and future skill needs is the leadership gap. This gap relates to women leaders is exactly same way that it relates to men leaders: each self-report a lack of needed skills for the leadership needs of the future. The self-report relates to the following from a Center for Creative Leadership assessment report:

Seven competencies were identified as most critical for success, now and in the future:

  1. Leading people.
  2. Strategic planning.
  3. Managing change.
  4. Inspiring commitment.
  5. Resourcefulness.
  6. Doing whatever it takes.
  7. Being a quick learner.

Bridging the Leadership Gap

Bridging the leadership gap (the difference between presently possessed skills and needed future skills) requires, as the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) points out, an initial recognition of the skill level in individual leaders within given companies. It also requires an assessment and recognition of needed future leadership skills within the company itself. Though simple to say, the CCL points out that it is a complex process for a company to assess and project future leadership needs since they are tied closely to future company needs such as growth, diversification of product, expansion and industry potential; for example, in 2011, few companies were able to project the current explosion of mobile device Internet access and dependence so few were able to work realistic future mobile device leadership needs into their growth, diversification and expansion plans. The CCL recommends specific steps within the above seven areas of assessment and change:

A current deficit of needed leadership skills is a problem; a gap between current leadership bench strength and future leadership demands is a serious liability. The sooner organizations can understand the reality of their leadership situation, the quicker they can move to adapt by re-focusing leadership development efforts and re-thinking recruitment priorities. To increase leadership capacity, organizations will want to take both a strategic and a tactical approach. (CCL)

Leading People.

  • specific behaviors and skills that are related to managing well
  • 360-degree leadership development assessment
  • training programs and developmental assignments
  • forums and discussion groups to share lessons learned and best practices
  • feedback-rich environment that include mentoring programs

Strategic Planning.

  • communicate the strategy, as well as factors influencing the strategy
  • training in strategy development, change management, and risk management
  • involve bright, young managers in strategy development
  • rotate managers at regular intervals so that more managers are prepared for senior management positions
  • provide necessary mentoring support and coaching

Inspiring Commitment.

  • connect company vision with employees’ roles and talk about their responsibilities for the realization of that vision
  • managers effectively and consistently communicate a clear vision and direction
  • managers to expect high standards of performance and interpersonal competence
  • develop recognition opportunities for managers to publicly acknowledge their employees

Managing Change.

  • offer change management classes, discussions, or courses
  • managers involve others in decision making during organizational change
  • create a "space" for managers to exchange creative ideas and solutions
  • accept employees’ resistance to change and help managers develop strategies to deal with it

Employee Development.

  • managers to have career goal discussions with employees regularly
  • develop a succession planning process that incorporates developmental events

Balancing Personal and Work Life.

  • awareness of personal style and behaviors
  • discussions on when, where, and how to say no
  • teach organizational skills (reviewing goals, plans, and priorities) and delegation skills
  • stress reduction, yoga or exercise programs
  • offer on-site services such as day care, a gym, or financial management programs
  • time-off policies and other strategies, such as telecommuting or flex time, for helping employees manage their time


  • help managers determine priorities
  • processes for helping managers gather and obtain relevant information needed for decision making
  • help managers take calculated risks to demonstrate their orientation to action
  • classes on creating and sustaining a more efficient workspace
  • criteria and a process for decision making in the organization and clarify individual responsibilities

[The above taken from the CCL article: Jean B. Leslie. "What you need, and don't have, when it comes to leadership talent." Center for Creative Leadership. 2009.]


"Bridging the Gap Between Leadership and Management." Michigan State University.

Jean Brittain Leslie, et al. "Understanding the Leadership Gap." Center for Creative Leadership. 2008.

360-degree leadership development assessment