New Zenger Folkman Research Challenges Sheryl Sandberg's 'Likability Penalty'

-A group of prominent Fortune 500 leaders prove that fatal flaws can be fixed-

Apr 24, 2013, 12:37 ET from Zenger Folkman

SALT LAKE CITY, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/-- There has been a lot of hype around Sheryl Sandberg's new book, "Lean In," and what she has to say about the struggles that women still face in the workforce. In the past year, Zenger Folkman has published significant research proving women's company leadership capabilities. However, after Sheryl Sandberg claimed that women face an unfair 'likability penalty' when being promoted, Zenger Folkman's researchers found the opposite.


"We agree that barriers stand in the way for women progressing, but our work with leadership development and 360-degree assessments has confirmed that a 'likability penalty' is not one of them," said Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman. "While, certainly, some individual women may find themselves disliked as they move up the organization, our aggregate data show the opposite is more common - that male leaders are perceived more negatively as they rise, whereas women generally maintain their popularity throughout their entire careers."

In order to decipher likability Zenger Folkman created an index from their 360 reports. They looked at items such as: "Do you stay in touch with issues and concerns of individuals in the work group?" and "How well do you balance getting results with a concern for others' needs?"

Click here to take the Zenger Folkman Likability Quiz.

After Zenger Folkman created the index, they looked at reports from 9,500 males and 5,000 females who had taken the report in the last three years. Harvard Business Review published a graphical representation of these findings that can be viewed here.

"Women should not assume that being promoted to a senior position causes them to be disliked," said Joe Folkman, President of Zenger Folkman.  In the end it's all about what you do that causes you to be liked or disliked in the workplace, not what gender you are."

To learn more about this research, attend Zenger Folkman's upcoming webinar, Is Sheryl Sandberg Right? Are Women Liked Less When Promoted. For more information on these findings, and how to incorporate them into a leadership development plan, visit

About Zenger Folkman:

Zenger Folkman is the authority is strengths-based leadership development. Their award-winning programs employ research-based methods that improve organizations and turn good managers into extraordinary leaders.

SOURCE Zenger Folkman