Leadership is process whereby other people in an organization are influenced to perform a task or a job. Through leadership an organization is effectively directed and thus becomes more cohesive and coherent. Therefore we can define leadership style as that approach which provides direction. In management we have different leadership styles. Some of these styles include democratic or participative, autocratic or authoritarian and free reign or delegative leadership.
Leading is something that is interpersonal and natural. This paper is going to talk about gender differences in leadership; and will in particular examine how different leadership styles are affected by the differences in gender. To ensure that this is achieved the paper will go through different sources and studies done about this work previously.
In the present world women are taking on very big jobs and thus switching to different kinds of leaderships automatically. They have taken up leadership positions in large numbers but are still viewed as weak by their counterparts of the opposite sex. Therefore this paper is going to find out the role played by gender in leadership. It will try and highlight major findings of this issue.
Discussion of the topic
For a long time there has this belief by many people that leadership is naturally for men alone. Researches carried out long time ago show that gender priority was rampant. Women were sidelined in the society and there was nothing they could do other than bear children and raise them. This bias about women has been experienced as recent as 1990. A study which was carried out by (Siegfried and Cann, 1990) in the year 1990 reveals that male chauvinism was observed and women were not allowed to be leaders. As a matter of fact men and women share a lot in common when it comes to leadership styles and behaviors according to many studies. The same studies however show that gender plays a very vital role in selection and style of leadership.
The following three leadership theories will try to explain leadership styles and these theories can be applied to gender and leadership. The three theories are:
Situational leadership theory
Normative decision theory
We shall focus the feature of emerging leadership in each model as it relates to situational aspects as per the three theories. We shall then put focus on specific facets of leadership with regard to these models to see whether and how leadership is affected by gender. (Butterfield and Grinnel, 1999)
Situational leadership theory
In this model we shall look at optimum methods used by leaders in tackling leadership style based on the type of leadership. The model scrutinizes task behavior as it relates to nature of work the leaders do. According to this model, the level of maturity of the leader in job and psychology affects the style of leadership. Gender and leadership are not correlated in this theory. (Butterfield and Grinnel, 1999)
Normative decision theory
The main reason why this model was designed was to improve some core issues on effective leadership. The model gives a clear explanation about what should happen in a decision making environment. The theory says that leaders could have a frequent improvement on performance of a group if they employ optimal amount of involvement in decision making process. From this theory we can conclude that leadership is a gender neutral aspect.
The contingency theory
This theory comes up with a model which stipulates that choosing the right type of leader fundamentally determines the effectiveness of leadership which is in contrast to the situational model. The model has a lot of focus on individual aspects of the leader rather than followers or situations. It notes that one develops personality characters at an early stage in life and the leadership style that the leader will employ will be affected his or her life and past experiences.
Main arguments, developments, changes;
At this stage the paper is going to scrutinize the researches and studies done that concern this topic. In 1990 Eagly and Johnson carried out a study which reveals that women were fond of leadership style which was more interpersonally based as compared to men who appreciated leadership style that was task oriented. The study concluded by showing that men are fond of being autocratic or directive in contrast women who appreciated democratic leadership (Eagly and Johnson, 1990)
The 2003 Meta-analysis of Eagly et al, (2003) shows that women can adopt transformational leadership style faster as compared to their male counterparts the leader in this kind of style is more coaching, encouraging and flexible when it comes to problem solving. In cases where women served as leaders, it is recorded that they rewarded good work but men leaders only censured the subordinates ad adopted hands off leadership style in most cases. (Eagly et al, 2003)
On he other hand we are warned by Eagly et al, (2003) to have in mind the power of perception. Her observation was that even if studies show differences in styles of leadership gender variation is minute because the roles of leadership is the major factor in determining the behavior of an individual. She concludes by observing that women are better leaders than men in some ways, but women still have disadvantages due to the mentality in many settings that is generally masculine. If masculinity was to be removed from organizational leadership it would give psychologists a clear image of any disparities in leadership between men and women. (Eagly et al, 2003)
Leadership which is participative does not involve the leader alone in decision making but other people also. For example employees being involved in decision making of an organization. Gardiner and Tiggeman (1999). It involves making a decision depending on the task to be done in organizations. This does not strictly say hat the employees are the ones to make final decision but their contributions are considered in the making of the final decision. According to some studies which were carried out in the 90’s women’s leadership is more participative than men’s. Both men and women subordinates were used in carrying out of this research and this confirms the fact that gender differences affects leadership style. The gender difference brings about both effective and ineffective leadership styles, but above all it is the leadership style that matter and not gender. (Gardiner and Tiggeman 1999)
While studying religious male and female leaders, researchers Cann and Siegfried also found out that female leaders were more transformational than there male counterparts. In transformational leadership style, the leaders involve their followers in all maters including decision making and this motivates the followers.
On the other hand researcher by the name of Maher, (1997) carried out a research which proposes that maybe transformational style of leadership is a feminine kind of leadership style. In groups where resources control is under women this type of style is most likely to be observed. From the studies cited above, it can clearly be seen that an important role is played by gender in leadership styles and women are observed to be fond of transformational style as compared to men. (Maher, 1997)
On analyzing differentiation in transformational and transactional leadership in religious leaders, Maher, (1997), discovered that there was no remarkable gender difference in transactional or transformational style of leadership.
According to Butterfield and Grinnel (1999), there are two basic types of societies in a society; dominator society and partnership society. She observes that women leadership styles take the partnership model which is a manner in which human relationships are developed on the basis of links making.
Sociological studies also reveal that the style in which women manage is different from that of men. Men are more hierarchical than women and women leaders organize their management on a wider base. Men groups get in to self-assertion quickly rather than make a compromise like the ladies. (Maher, 1997)
Limitations of the research
Most of the studies and research done fall short of coming up with strong evidence of leadership style being determined by gender, and instead only gives a general feeling and what seem to be happening. For a leader to choose a leadership style he or she not only consider gender but also bears in mind certain factors which may influence his or her decision. The studies again fail to come up with core evidence that an individual chooses leadership style basing on gender alone. In addition, the studies use samples that are limited which can not give more reliable results.
Basing on the entire research findings, however, psychologists do warn us against jumping in to conclusion that female and male leaders have some sort of inborn style of leadership. It is clear that women are well conversant with how people resent the ‘bossy’ kind of leadership. This only softens their approach whenever they are dealing with their workers. Nonetheless there is need for more research to be done in this field that incorporates other factors that might be influencing styles of leadership to get more reliable data. (Eagly, A. H. et al 2003)
Other studies; Compare and contrast studies with each other;
Many studies are in support of the fact that ladies are more inclined towards transformational or participative kind of leadership style. According to Eagly and Johnson in their study they reveal that women fall in love with leadership style that is more interpersonally oriented but their male counterparts embrace task oriented leadership style. The study also continues by women are more democratic. Denmark, (1993): also strongly supports this argument. He argues that women leadership style also embraces partnership model. Consequently there is an observation by sociologists that women management style is dissimilar to that of men. Men are observed to be more hierarchical but women appreciate participatory and more democratic style of leadership; they never get themselves involved in supporting and correlating with their groups. On the other hand these studies may vary in the intensity of how participative women leaders can be in their groups. (Denmark, 1993)
Maher, (1997) contrast Cann, and Siegfried, (1990) in his analysis about differentiation in transactional and transformational leadership style among religious leaders basing on gender and scrutinizing residence hall administrators and residence hall administrators assistants, where he found out that there was minute gender difference in transactional or transformational style of leadership style.
Meanings of studies to the practice of Organizational behavior
From the studies we can clearly see that there is an important role played by gender in leadership styles; it also has a direct impact on leadership of an organization because its style may be affected by the top gender personality. Nonetheless studies reveal that men and women are correspondingly effective in one way or another. But in some cases for an organization/s management to be efficient then gender differences must be put in to consideration. For example the ladies are considered to be more coaching and guiding in their leadership which is much appreciated by female workers in an organization. In addition, most women are working role models, and motivators. They also assist workers to attain dedication and creativity. This approach does optimally in current models of organizations which are less hierarchical. It should be note that not all organizations are equally in participatory style of leadership and the style may fail to work in customary male dominated organizations like the military. (Gardiner and Tiggeman, 1999).
Organizational practice differs accordingly; according to Eagly and Karau (1995), men and women are all effective. Leaders and managers who were analyzed in the studies were mostly first line supervisors working in laboratories. According to the studies women did well in women dominated organizations. Correspondingly men flourished in organizations where men were majority. From this we conclude that in management of organizations women will get a positive management approval if they worked in sectors where women were a majority same with male dominated organizations for men. However men will be forced to emulate different leadership style which is somehow democratic when working in organizations full of women.
Leadership is a core aspect in any organization. It is the leadership that is going to determine the success of an organization. While running an organization there are different leadership styles which can be used. We have autocratic leadership where employees are dictated by their seniors on what to do and how to perform their tasks; another leadership style being democratic where employees views are also put in to consideration.
A vital role is played by gender in the choice of the type of leadership style. From the researches and studies conducted it can be concluded that women appreciate democratic leadership style in contrast to men who embrace autocratic leadership style. The kind of leadership adapted is the one that determines triumph of an organization. Other than that there is need for more research to be done in future to show the certainty and truth of these studies.