Leadership Style of Men and Women

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Leadership Style of Men and Women Women do have different leadership styles from men. As Bodyshop founder Anita Roddick says: ‘I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits; recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom’. The problem with actually mapping these differences is that the successful male managerial stereotype is so strongly embedded in organisational life that female managers are pressured to conform to it, thereby confusing research results. Interest in the impact of gender on leadership is relatively new. The first studies were conducted in the US in the early 1970s when male managers at nine insurance companies were asked to characterise ‘women in general’, ‘men in general’ and ‘successful managers’. Successful managers were overwhelmingly identified exclusively with male traits. Many similar studies have been carried out since that time and all have demonstrated that the successful managerial stereotype remains male. Women managers’ perceptions of the successful manager are only slightly less conclusive. Unlike the women managers in the 1970s and 1980s not all female managers today sextype the successful manager as male; however, no one, male or female, ever identifies the successful manager as feminine. Male, and only to a slightly lesser extent, female, managers continue to describe successful managers as possessing masculine traits, such as self-confidence, competitiveness, decisiveness, aggressiveness and independence. Positive differences Many managers, both male and female, agree that sex differences in management style do exist. Interestingly both describe women’s differences in positive terms. Yet when researchers ask managers to describe their own management styles they usually find no significant differences between genders. Does this mean no difference exists? No. What these findings reveal is the extent to which individuals characterise themselves in terms of dominant managerial values, in this case masculine behaviour. At the same time managers describe themselves in terms that fit with the prevailing rhetoric of good management practice, now... ... middle of paper ... ...rrectness. Fear of the backlash that can arise if being critical of any woman, or challenging the current wisdom of how ‘femininity’ can add to the boardroom, maintains the myth of gender differences influencing work related performance. The way forward Today’s economic reality is oversupply. Too many products and services are chasing too few consumers. In order to get that, ‘extra 2%’ which will make the difference, each organisation has to look to itself. Helping people to become more motivated to sell or to provide a higher level of service, requires that staff and management improve dialogue and their internal communications. In effect, internal diversities need to be turned into unique strengths, which give the organisation that extra push. What is the value of sending men and women on separate courses or being given different treatment (unless a special case exists), when aim is to ‘pull together’ in order to survive and prosper? Managing diverse groups to achieve a cohesive philosophy and consistency of performance is what is required of today’s corporate leader. Evidence shows that women and men are as adept, or as bad, as each other at responding to this challenge.
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