Sample of assignment: Leadership styles and gender

By | April 14, 2014

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Despite the fact that there are a lot of debates over the notion that men are more likely to become leaders than women, there are fewer researchers that study on the topic of differences of the leadership styles between men leaders and women leaders. And the debates on this topic are usually around the leverage of gender role and leader roles. And there are many a lot of professional researchers who support the notion that there are some gender differences in the leadership styles. For instance, Sargent (1981) acknowledged that “women and men managers behave stereotypically to some extent. The reasons for this argument are three folds:

Firstly, men and women are different in traits. Women when compared with men as a group, are friendly, pleasant interested in other people, expressive and socially sensitive (Eagly 1987), and men are usually described as aggressive, ambitious and less friendly than their female counterparts. And certainly such trait differences will lead to different way of management, so even with strong structure forces that eliminating the gender differences, the men leader and female leader behave in such ways these two groups distinguish with each other to some extent.

Secondly, it is true that in the lower management positions, the female and male leaders in the same organizational role have little differences in their leadership practice; that is because on one hand managers become socialized in their role in the early stage of their experience in the company (Feldman 1976), and it is common that the early experience of a company for both men or women leaders would be similar, and on the other hand in the lower positions of the management teams, managers’ management practice have more restrictions from the job description say, and they do not have much empowerment to show their own leadership style. But in the higher positions, the leadership styles differ from male to female counterparts. Like the founder of the famous cosmetic company Bodyshop Anita Roddick said, “I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring…putting your labor where your love is… (Helgesen 1995)”, so the sex differences in the leadership styles are existing inherently, and will become apparent in the higher management positions.

Thirdly, there is experimental evident to support the argument that women and men leaders manage companies with differences. A famous meta-analysis (Eagly & Johnson 1990) comparing the men and women behaviors on leaderships of two dimensions, task oriented or interpersonal leadership, and democratic or autocratic leadership styles, the study classify the studies into three types according their social context as stated in Table 1 below.

The result of each study was measured in effect size for the purpose of comparison within each type. By analyzing the experiment results, they found out that there were obvious relations between the social content and the degree that the leadership styles are gender stereotypic (Eagly & Schmidt). In the group of laboratory, the tendency that women are interpersonal oriented and men are task oriented is more obvious than it is in the group of organizational. This may be caused by the structure force from the organizational level to eliminate such differences, but the gender stereotypic character of the leadership is evident still.