The theme of leadership has always been an essential concern for human society. The ability to organize people and govern them to achieve a goal has been viewed as the critically important trait appreciated in individuals. However, because of the dominance of patriarchal values and the inferior position of women during the most significant part of history, men were traditionally taken as more effective leaders, which potent leadership styles employed in various situations. Today, with the reconsideration of the role of women in society, their empowerment, and the focus on tolerance and equality, the concept of leadership and its dependence on gender are debated. There are multiple attempts to outline the difference between men and women as leaders and their impact on teams. The presented paper delves into the topic and tends to investigate the influence of gender on leadership styles in the workplace and conclude about the effect gender has on the perception of leadership in general.
Nowadays, the ability of women to be strong leaders seems obvious and cannot be doubted. Numerous female leaders responsible for the functioning of companies and departments prove that regardless of stereotypic vision remaining from the past epochs, women are capable of building effective teams and their management. However, the emergence of multiple opportunities for this group introduces another question. The psychological peculiarities of men and women and differences in their behaviors can have diverse effects on leadership roles and styles employed by leaders in the workplace. For this reason, the main question is the degree to which gender affects the choice and effectiveness of styles and if there are negative effects linked to it. The substantial role of strategies and their correct choice in different situations, as well as the contribution to outcomes, justify the high relevance and significance of the selected topic.
One of the first things linked to the selected issue is the leader’s perception and employees’ vision of a person who governs them. As stated previously, men were traditionally viewed as more potent leaders with qualities needed to inspire and organize people. One of the factors explaining this view is religion. For instance, investigations show that the boss-like image of a white man is strongly correlated with the concept of God in Christianity, who is also imagined as a white man (“God as a White man,” 2020). This factor explains the subconscious readiness of individuals to obey and their vision of males as more potent persons who are authorized to make difficult and radical solutions. In other words, there is a collective belief that attributing a social identity to God affects the image of individuals who share this identity and presents them as more fir for leadership (“God as a White man,” 2020). The given pattern is related to stereotypes existing in people’s mentalities.
The traditional distribution of leading roles and styles regarding gender is disrupted today. The power of stereotypes remains high, and there are still beliefs assuming that men can be a better choice in difficult situations or for collectives characterized by the increased complexity of relations between their members. The emotional sphere is one of the most discussed areas closely connected to the choice of leadership styles. In accordance with stereotypical assumptions, women can be less effective because of their being too emotional and predisposed to changes in attitudes or moods (Leitch & Stead, 2016). However, recent research works show the obsolete nature of this belief and both genders’ ability to accept correct decisions and select strategies that meet the current demands of the company or organization (Leitch, C., & Stead, V. (2016). For this reason, it is possible to admit the gradual decrease and disillusionment in the sphere of leadership with the shift towards the recognition of the women’s ability to lead.
Transactional and Transformational Styles
The impact of gender can also be discussed regarding leadership roles. In the modern vision, transformational and transactional roles are viewed as the central and most important aspects because of their positive impact on the work of organizations and the ability to achieve desired outcomes (Hryniewicz & Vianna, 2018). Thus, the existing body of research shows that both men and women can perform their duties regarding these very roles (Hryniewicz & Vianna, 2018). They can motivate the staff, organize them, and inspire by emphasizing benefits generated at the end. However, the choice of strategies and styles differs, which comes from the peculiarities of thinking and factors that are viewed as central by representatives of different genders (Hryniewicz & Vianna, 2018). The given variation preconditions the existence of multiple approaches utilized by men and women in workplaces. The comparison of choices made by female and male leaders shows that they are equally effective, which means that the difference does not impact effectiveness and results (Hryniewicz & Vianna, 2018). This factor is fundamental for the further empowerment of women and eliminating disparities in the distribution of leading roles in organizations.
The importance of transformational leadership is explained by several factors. First, it affects employee motivation and performance (Leitch & Stead, 2016). Second, it helps to encourage groups and evolve to attain new goals (Leitch & Stead, 2016). For this reason, it is given much attention today and can be viewed regarding gender. Transformational roles are usually categorized into four types: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). These categories presuppose high standards of moral conduct, a strong vision of the future, enthusiasm, promotion of better performance, and the ability to inspire followers (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). The idealized influence and inspirational motivation are also two central components of a leader’s charisma vital for success (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). The research shows that both men and women have equal chances to have these traits, which proves that their leadership qualities possess similar effectiveness (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). However, the inspirational efforts of males differ from these of women because of their focus on the intellectual sphere, while females appeal more to the emotional component (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). Thus, positive outcomes can be achieved by both methods.
Transactional leadership focuses on other areas of performance. It appeals to exchanges between leaders and followers, such as rewards, sanctions, and experience-sharing to guarantee the compliance of employees with existing goals and objectives (Belasen & Frank, 2012). Behaviors related to the given sphere focus on supervising and managing workers by rational and economic means (Leitch & Stead, 2016). Transactional leaders devote much attention to exchange relationships with the provision of substantial support to followers to encourage their effort (Belasen & Frank, 2012). The body of research evidences that both men and women are capable of engaging in this sort of activity and employing the transactional leadership model (Belasen & Frank, 2012). However, there are also differences preconditioned by gender as they prefer to select between different options and methods. For instance, male directors prefer financial or administrative sanctions to eliminate undesired behaviors, while female leaders more often use personal communication and persuasion to attain the desired outcomes (Leitch & Stead, 2016). The measures might demonstrate different effectiveness regarding the climate within a company and relations between its employees.
Comparing gender effects on both models, researches outline several vital factors. First, investigators assume that transformational leadership can be viewed as more advantageous to women because of its androgynous qualities (Belasen & Frank, 2012). Women are not so focused on their success and prefer to promote teams when men might cultivate their own images (Belasen & Frank, 2012). This is linked to stereotypical representations and barriers that exist in society. Moreover, statistics show that female leaders are more transformation and more engage in contingent reward, which is also vital for transactional behavior (Belasen & Frank, 2012). At the same time, because of the expected manifestations of masculinity, men often demonstrate other traits peculiar to transactional models, such as active management by exception and passive management by exception (Belasen & Frank, 2012). The given factor affects their styles and the ability to accept critical decisions in various situations.
As stated previously, the biological and social differences between men and women also play an important role in distinguishing their styles and approaches. Thus, because of their physiological peculiarities and the brain functioning, women give more attention to details, demonstrate wider emotional variety, and seek input from others (Belasen & Frank, 2012). They are also more agreeable, ready for compromise, and looking for new solutions (Belasen & Frank, 2012). On the other hand, male leaders are often viewed as agreeable at times, ready to delegate detail work to others, and focused on certain solutions, rather than discussing them or looking for support (Belasen & Frank, 2012). The given difference influences the choice of strategies and final decisions. Moreover, women and considered more effective in managing diversity and considering peculiarities of national cultures, which becomes extremely important in the modern globalized society, while men prefer to employ unified approaches regardless of nationality or status (Belasen & Frank, 2012). The gender differences also precondition women’s orientation on people when men are more concerned with tasks (Belasen & Frank, 2012). The existence of these divergences demonstrates that gender and existing biological differences significantly influence leaders and their choice of strategies.
Nevertheless, comparing male and female leadership styles, researchers state that they can have similar effectiveness. Both male and female directors or managers can achieve the existing goals and create the basis for the achievement of success. However, the results might differ regarding the existing infrastructure and resources available for leaders (Abdallah & Jibai, 2020). It means that the selected strategies might demonstrate decreased effectiveness or little effect on projects and teams if there is no appropriate base and tools available for persons responsible for outcomes. For this reason, evaluating the influence of gender on leadership styles, it is necessary to consider available resources as the pool of methods might be limited, and females or males will have to choose among practices that do not apply to the situation.
Altogether, gender is a vital factor that impacts the sphere of leadership and the choice of strategies. The biological and sociological differences between men and women affect their functioning and preferences in working with teams. However, both males and females can be effective transformational and transactional leaders, depending on the situation and desired outcome. They can be limited by existing resources and environments; however, today, all specialists, regardless of their gender, have an opportunity to demonstrate outstanding results.
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Belasen, A., & Frank, N. (2012). Women’s leadership: Using the competing values framework to evaluate the interactive effects of gender and personality traits on leadership roles. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(2), 192-209. Web.
“God as a White man: A psychological barrier to conceptualizing Black people and women as leadership worthy”: Correction to Roberts et al. (2020). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Web.
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