Gender Differences in Leadership Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Gender Differences in Leadersdhip

Gender Differences in Leadership

Is it possible to have different women and men leaders? This is a question surrounded with substantial controversy. However, the notion that there is a difference in the way men and women lead is dominant in management literature, which provides information for practicing managers. Some scholars who support this difference suggest that women have a "female voice" overlooked in theory and research. On the contrary, a significant percentage of the social science literature support the similarity stand, suggesting that, considering all things, men and women lead in the same manner (Eagly and Johnson, 1990). In addition, most of the empirical evidence for both positions accumulated through the years further contributes to confusion.

Currently, women are assuming a number of leadership responsibilities in various organizations owing to some "gender equality is gradually becoming a belief." Although there is a popular concept that men make better leaders compared to women who utilize "soft tactics" for work completion, is not always correct. Additionally, gender does not determine leadership styles, but by the identity of the individual leader (Lynda and Joanne, 2003). Therefore, organizations should include women in order to prosper. Those that fail to include women will fail in two ways. First, they lose a chance to utilize the potential of female leaders, and secondly, the organizations receive poor returns on investment.

In many organizational studies, it is apparent that men and women leaders did not vary in interpersonally related style and task oriented style. However, in laboratory and evaluation studies, it is apparent that men are task oriented and women are interpersonally oriented. Concerning the leadership style, women espoused a democratic or participative style; while men adopted an autocratic style. This paper utilizes the most current empirical evidence on similarities and variations in female and male leadership styles to reveal the difference in gender leadership styles (Stelter, 2002).

Gender and Leadership

Various variables such as race, gender and culture influence effective leadership. Gender is a social element specifying the socially and culturally prescribed tasks that female and male follow. According to the social theory, gender differences are central to division of labor between the genders, which enhances development of gender tasks. This means that the genders will equip themselves for the different tasks (Lynda and Joanne, 2003). In other words, gender roles refer to guidelines about how males and females should behave. In addition, the roles are central to gender centered theory of leadership, which aims at personal differences.

Traits such as aggression, ambition, dominance, force, independence and confidence have a link to male leadership (Cares, Wearing and Mann, 2000). On the other hand, traits such as affection, kindness, sympathy, sensitivity and helpfulness have a connection with female leadership. Prior studies suggest that men and women had personality attributes that matched with effective leadership skills. However, the social role expectations offered a plausible explanation that accounted for gender variation in leadership (Stelter, 2002). Additionally, emphasis on gender variations, some scholars argue, aimed at excluding females from secular and non-secular leadership ranks.

Difference does exist

Generally, the notion of leadership style includes a number of behaviors. At times, gender is confounded with variables including status, type of organization, attributes of the employees and hierarchal level in an organization. In addition, various categories of leadership styles, patterns of leadership traits often have a correlation with gender and might elaborate variations between female and male leadership (Eagly, Johannesen-Schimdt and VanEngen, 2003). The approach of autocratic to democratic leadership varies from the leader not allowing obstruction of employees in decision-making and leading in an autocratic manner, to the leader behaving democratically and allows employees to take part in making decisions.

Although leading in a democratic manner excludes autocratic leadership, leaders may utilize both styles according to the situational contingency of both the role design and subordinate attributes. On the other hand, interpersonally oriented leaderships consist of behaviors such as assisting and doing favors for employees, minding their welfare, elaborating procedures, friendliness and availability. Additionally, some scholar argues that task oriented, and interpersonal leadership is separate, whereas others view the orientations as a single continuum (Eagly and Johnson, 1990). However, the extensive research has found out leadership styles referred to as visionary, charismatic, transformational and inspirational.

Transformational and transactional leadership vary independently and often differentiated with the deficiency of leadership. Although there is an apparent use of charismatic and transformational leadership as synonyms, there is a consideration that charisma is a sub-dimension of transformational leadership including inspiration, intellectual and personal considerations (Stelter, 2002). Charismatic leaders often attract their followers into obedience, loyalty and adoration. However, some habitual characteristics of charismatic leadership are central to transformational leadership.

Gendered Leadership Styles

The mentioned leadership styles such as autocratic, task oriented, transactional styles emphasize on upholding roles while democratic, interpersonally oriented, transformational uphold the nurturing of interpersonal relationships. Additionally, the styles correlate to gender as they portray the masculinity of available sex stereotypes (Lynda and Joanne, 2003). Conversely, people consider men as instrumental, competent, rational and assertive, and females are sensitive, warm, tactful and expressive. Additionally, task oriented and interpersonally oriented approaches are similar to elements like communion and agency, intimacy or independence that respectively refer to feminine and masculine approaches of relating to others (Stelter, 2002). Strivings for intimacy characterize feminine approaches, whereas striving for mastery and dominance characterize masculine approaches.

Other studies suggest that consideration habits reflected feminine behaviors, whereas structuring behaviors reflected masculine behaviors. This means that it is correct to suggest that task oriented leadership is a stereotypically masculine approach and interpersonally oriented leadership is a stereotypically feminine approach. Although there is evidence of varied leadership styles based on gender, none is bad. Transformational leadership was a feminine leadership approach, but various studies suggested that feminine and masculine attributes, suggesting that the leadership approach is a gender-balance leadership approach.

In addition, the instrumental, task oriented, autocratic approaches are masculine leadership styles, whereas the interpersonally oriented, charismatic, and democratic approaches are feminine based. The term "stereotypically" is common to differentiate the dichotomies of leadership approaches from the biological sex. Owing to the correspondence of the stereotypic gender models and leadership approaches, it is possible to have gender differences in the leadership approaches (Eagly and Johnson, 1990).

Evidence of Difference in Leadership Styles

Various empirical evidences suggest that females were more interpersonally oriented, task oriented, interpersonally oriented on the task oriented leadership approach in comparison to men. In organizational studies, there were negligible variations. There was the pronunciation of gender variations, although small in evaluation studies, and dominated in laboratory studies. Additionally, in many studies, gender variations in the democratic vs. autocratic leadership approach were apparent; in this case, it was evident that a large percentage of women adopted the democratic approach compared to men (Stelter, 2002).

There were smaller gender differences in leadership approaches compared to laboratory studies. This is because, in organizational studies, selection of male and female managers follows the same criteria. A significant element in the occurrence of gender differences in leadership approaches is the identity of the rater (Eagly, Johannesen-Schimdt and VanEngen, 2003). The rater can stand for the investigator who may use behavioral observation. Additionally, ratings can come from leaders, supervisors, subordinates, or colleagues in questionnaires. However, there is a divergence in results from self-report researches and researches using subordinates as raters.

The above discrepancy occurred because self-ratings had a high rate of stereotypic compared to subordinate ratings for approaches such as interpersonally and task oriented styles. For instance, there was a consistency in interpersonally oriented for female leaders compared to subordinates. However, the organizational context may also have a significant influence on the leadership approach. The social environment of the leader including the hierarchical standard, specific group, and the type of organization has the capacity to influence the type of leadership approach (Lynda and Joanne, 2003). This is because the organizational rank had insignificant influence on the autocratic vs. democratic, interpersonal vs. task oriented, and interpersonal leadership approaches.

There is a tendency for highly ranked male managers to reflect more task orientation as compared to female managers. Conversely, it is apparent that mid-level women managers showed a higher percentage of task orientation as compared to male managers. It is an expectation that male and female managers hold different rankings have a correlation to the leadership approaches they apply, but the organizational does not have a varied influence on the leadership approaches of male and female leaders (Cares, Wearing and Mann, 2003). However, in an organization with many male subordinates, male managers adopted task-oriented approaches compared to female leaders who adopted democratic leadership styles.

Possible Cause of Differences in Gender Leadership

The most significant cause of the gender differences was confidence. This is because there is a conception that men are more confident as compared to men. In addition, men are shown as willing to bluff translating to greater confidence, which causes optimistic judgments (Hall and Matsumoto, 2004). Although women are considered as more risk averse, there is an exception, social risk. This is…

Sources Used in Document:


Carless, S.A., Wearing, A., J., & Mann, L.A. (2000). A short measure of transformational leadership. Journal of Business and Psychology, 14, 389-405.

Eagly, A.H., & Johnson, B.T. (1990). Gender and leadership style: A meta-analysis.

Psychological Bulletin, 108, 233-256.

Eagly, A.H., Johannesen-Schmidt, M.C., & Van Engen, M. (2003). Transformational,

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