Does gender make a difference in leadership styles?
Understanding gender as an essential element of all aspects of each day life has become more and more extensive. Gender makes a difference in leadership style. Every leader has his or her different leadership style and a different strategy of approaching their profession.
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Both men and women have their unique and different leadership styles. Gender and leadership style is a subject that has been debated-on over the years. Some people believe that both men and women have similar leadership styles while others believe that their leadership styles vary.
Nonetheless, it is evident that both men and women have different styles of leadership. For instance; Women in leadership use their positions of authority to build a supportive and an accommodating atmosphere.
Men on the other hand use their positions of authority to build a hierarchal atmosphere where they give orders and expect compliance and respect. Men are believed to be autocratic, task and punishment oriented, commanding and controlling. Conversely, women are democratic, reward-oriented, participative or democratic and team players (Sherrill, 2011).
There are various fundamental qualities or features that most people link with leadership. They include; self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-confident, dominant, determined, go-getter and independent. Most people can concur that people who have these qualities are normally seen as leaders (Sherrill, 2011).
An effectual leader is someone who inspires and encourages others to achieve more than they would have otherwise achieved without the involvement of the leader. People believe that leadership is a conventionally masculine activity. Research has shown that just like there are similarities in the leadership styles of both men and women, there are also differences and they are all effective.
There are several leadership theories that help in understanding the concept of leadership. Leadership is not about being on top but it’s about being transformative, goal-oriented, focused and above all being a leader that creates affirmative change. Transformative leadership theory for instance, is about headship that creates confirmatory change in the subordinates whereby they look after each other’s wellbeing and act according to the interests and wellbeing of the entire group.
Leaders who practice this leadership style, boosts the performance, ethical and motivation of his subordinates (Van, 2000). Women are transformative leaders and they greatly focus on the interest of their subordinates. Men are more demanding, commanding and punishment-oriented.
Transactional leadership theory involves leaders who believe that followers are encouraged through punishment or rewards. Such leaders give orders and instructions to their subordinates regarding their expectations and when those expectations are realized, the followers are rewarded, if not, they are punished.
They assign jobs to the subordinates even when there are no resources; these leaders are self-centered. The majority of male leaders tend to employ this leadership style, they are task-oriented and dictatorial and domineering. Male leaders like to be in control and so they end up putting their interests first (Smith, 2004). Another leadership theory that relates to styles of leadership is Laissez-Faire Leadership; in this case leaders tend to give little or no supervision and direction to the subordinates.
Followers are allowed to be whatever they want: this leadership style works well in situations where subordinated are highly trained, skillful and experienced. Followers are required to solve problems on their own; this can be very risky if they are not skilled or knowledgeable in what they do. This leadership style is employed by both male and female leaders, leaders who are not focused or goal- oriented.
There are other well-established theories concerning leadership styles; such as “Green Man theories.” These theories presume that the ability to lead is intrinsic and that good leaders are not made but are born. They depict good leaders as being heroic, legendary and valiant. The word “Great Man” was utilized because long ago headship was believed to be men’s position. Women were not believed to be good leaders but this mind-set has changed because in the present day, women are been appointed as leaders (Moore, 2004).
The society has always believed that men are brave and authoritative unlike women and so they shouldn’t hold leadership positions. Trait theories also presume that people inherit traits that make them good leaders: there are certain qualities in people that make them good leaders. Just like Great Men theories, trait theories do not support women leadership (Kippenberger, 2002).
All leaders are supposed to be focused with group-members’ interests at heart regardless of their gender. In our society today, some organizations believe that there are female and male positions at work place; this shows that these organizations believe that gender makes difference in leadership style (Broadbridge, 2006).
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This may be perceived as some kind of discrimination but being different does not mean women are not good leaders and vice versa. This only means that their approach in leadership is different from that of men. Some believe that men leadership styles are better compared to those of women but the bottom-line is, good leadership styles are those that facilitate the accomplishment of set goals (Dereli, 2010). An effective leader is one who delivers quality work and leads professionally and competently regardless of the gender.
Men and women have their different style of leadership; all through history men have always been given higher positions but in the contemporary society, this is changing because women have proven to be good leaders too, they leadership style is slowly but surely being accepted in the business world.
Broadbridge, A. (2006).Women in management: perspectives from the European academy of management. USA: Emerald Group Pub.
Dereli, M. (2010). Leadership Styles. New York: VDM Verlag.
Kippenberger, T. (2002). Leadership Styles. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons.
Moore, G. (2004). Leadership Styles. London: Inspire Publishing.
Sherrill. A. (2011).Women in Management: Analysis of Female Managersż Representation, Characteristics, and Pay. California: DIANE Publishing Company.
Smith, R. (2004).Leadership styles: presidents of historically black colleges and universities. USA: Oklahoma State University.
Van, M. (2000).Gender and leadership styles: a review of the past decade. USA: Tilburg University.