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In a 2017 Harvard Business Review report, yet another way men and women are evaluated differently is uncovered:

After examining their database of 2,800 executive evaluations globally, the Egon Zehnder team found that men tended to outscore women on five of seven competencies that companies more typically use to evaluate managers — criteria such as strategy, change management and understanding the market. Women outperformed men on collaboration and developing other individuals and teams.

The article explains that we can’t just look at our experience and past successes as an indicator for future performance; but rather need to consider all aspects of the leadership potential. If companies seek to increase the number of women leaders in their organization they need to adjust their measurement criteria.

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. Wilma Rudolph

Additionally, training programs should reflect a candidate’s leadership potential so that they are provided the opportunities to gain new skills rather than just look at their current competencies.

Training is another word for investment. To truly provide the necessary instruction for those with untapped leadership potential, we must consider the entire person.

Companies that do a better job of measuring potential and shift their culture to urge employees to “bring their whole selves to work” — a phrase common with the Facebook executive and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg — could help propel underappreciated executives, and particularly more women, to the top.

Examine your current training programs

Do you have a plan in place to identify those within your organization with the most potential and provide them the tools necessary to increase their skill set?

As individuals, we must also recognize that if we don’t currently have a skill set that other men have in our department or in the position we strive for – we need to take the initiative to seek out the training necessary. Ask your boss to send you to training that will provide you will the skills you need to be considered for the next promotion.

Almost 2 Years Later and Nothing Has Changed

In the two years since the Harvard study, we learn that men are still being offered the potential to grow into leadership roles over women.

The potential of women for leadership roles is being overlooked, while men benefit from the perception that they will grow into the role, new research from the University of Kent shows.

In an article entitled Women’s Leadership Potential Being Overlooked, we learn that are still receiving the benefit of the doubt over women.

The study demonstrated that when faced with a choice, people consistently ranked male candidates with  potential as their first choice. Furthermore, while leadership potential was preferred in male candidates, participants preferred past performance over potential in .

As business leaders, we need to be aware of this discrepancy and hold our human resource decisions up to a higher standard. Invest in your company. Look beyond the competencies someone has today and look rather for those that have the most leadership potential in the future.

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