Folkman's research found that female leaders rank the highest in their ability to take initiative and drive results. In total, 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.
As highly regarded as women may be, they still deal with comparably lower confidence in their skills and abilities.
"Are women naturally less confident? Probably not. But if in a situation where people are doubting you or questioning your abilities, that would even make me less confident," Folkman says. "I think it's more about the company culture that creates that lack of confidence."
If women feel stress or lack of confidence at their jobs, it's likely less about their technical abilities and more about company culture.
"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 says.
During Obama's talk in Paris, he added that he appreciated people who question themselves and those around them using questions such as:
- How can I make the people around me better?
- How do I empower them?
- How do I build a team where everyone is pulling together to get something done?
"A great leader can connect with people, and we find that as leaders progress in an organization, their ability to empathize and understand people is absolutely critical for a senior executive," Folkman says. "If a leader doesn't do that, they don't get the kind of engagement and commitment from employees."
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.
Self-made billionaire Richard Branson reveals the most important thing to do no matter how old you are