Adaptability and Authenticity are Keys to Women’s Success in the Workplace

NEW YORK, June 19, 2019 – A majority of executive women say they must both change their leadership styles and be more adaptable than their male counterparts in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers, according to a new study released today by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm.

Advancing the Future of Women in Business: A KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Report” polled 550 high-performing executive women who are 1-2 career steps away from the C-suite and have participated in the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

“As KPMG’s Chairman and CEO, I’m especially passionate about our firm’s commitment to advancing more women into the C-suite,” said KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie. “It’s important for organizations everywhere to gain a more thorough understanding of the specific challenges women on the verge of breaking into the C-suite face. Our latest study provides valuable insights into these challenges. We hope it inspires women to aim high and lead with purpose.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • Sixty-six percent say they must change their leadership styles more than their male counterparts as they rise to higher levels within an organization.
  • Eighty-one percent believe that women must be more adaptable in situations than men in order to lead successfully and advance in their careers.
  • Because of feedback like being “too bossy or demanding,” “not aggressive enough,” “not collaborative enough,” and “too direct,” 58% of women surveyed admit to changing their leadership style to combat such perceptions.
  • Forty-nine percent of executive women identify most with an authentic leadership style but struggle to define how much authenticity is too much. Women executives believe their authenticity must decrease as they rise in the ranks.
  • More than half (58%) of women executives surveyed believe a transformational leadership style is needed to reach the C-Suite.

The women executives included in the in-depth survey represent a range of industries across more than 150 of the world’s leading organizations and were nominated by their CEOs to attend the Summit.  

Additional findings:

  • Transformational (39%) and democratic (34%) leadership styles are viewed as the best styles to motivate employees.
  • While only 2% of women identified as transactional leaders, executive women found the transactional leadership style useful in times of crisis, high-risk situations, or dealing with a variety of personnel challenges.
  • Eighty-one percent of women believe in situational leadership as a means for being successful.

For more information or to download the full report, please visit:

Join and follow the conversation on @KPMGInspire on Twitter using the hashtag: #LeadershipStyles

KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit

Currently in the U.S., less than 5% of S&P 500 companies have female CEOs. To help address this leadership gap, the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, now in its fifth year, aims to strengthen the pipeline of women leaders on the path to the C-suite. Through high-impact leadership development content, access to today’s top leaders, and networking opportunities, KPMG seeks to equip women to advance in their career journeys. The Summit is being held on June 19, 2019 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, MN in conjunction with the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Live streaming coverage begins at 9:30am CT at


KPMG is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations.

KPMG is widely recognized for being a great place to work and build a career. Our people share a sense of purpose in the work we do, and a strong commitment to community service, inclusion and diversity, and eradicating childhood illiteracy.

KPMG LLP is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s independent member firms have 207,000 professionals working in 153 countries and territories. Learn more at