Gender Features of Women Leadership Behavior in Modern Management
As women's managerial careers started increasingly developing, the question of women's leadership has begun to arise. Can women be great leaders? Do they have what it takes?
While we can assess this matter from a personal standpoint and instantly assert "yes," let's take a more scientific approach. By analyzing the correlation of gender features with the leadership we can objectively assess women's position in management.
The difference in features between men and women is existent. At least according to psychologists and HR experts. Therefore, the approach to leadership and management will differ between men and women. Those differences can reveal the true influence of women in management.
More and more women are taking over management roles and it should be proven that this happens for good reasons. With that in mind, let’s revise some key gender features of women that show how women are innate leaders.
Not rarely are women characterized by a lack of assertiveness. Generations of male leaders have used this trait as a justification for why women don't get equal opportunities in management.
According to Psychology.com, being assertive means:
“Being able to stand up for your own rights, communicating your wants, needs, positions, and boundaries in a calm and clear manner while respecting other people’s thoughts and wishes.”
Now, how can women’s assertiveness be questioned when women managed to rise from no right to vote to leadership positions in the world of business?
The myth of women's lack of assertiveness has originated due to the frequency of assertiveness.
According to a study conducted by the Gender Action Portal at the Harvard Kennedy School, men are assertive more frequently. However, this happens because women assess the situation and apply assertiveness strategically. Or, as the study found “women actively adjust their behavior according to conversational context.”
Therefore, there is no question about whether women are assertive or not. Endless stories of women fighting for their rights and equality speak on behalf of that.
The real issue is society’s tendency to stereotype women. That’s what needs to change.
Various studies have found that women tend to be more empathetic than men. One of those studies is Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Empathy and Forgiveness carried out by Toussaint and Webb. The study led to the same conclusion that women are more empathetic than men.
But how does empathy improve leadership?
Empathy is actually considered to be an essential feature of a good leader. J. Bryan Bennett, an MBA, CPA, LSSGB shared that based on research, interviews, and self-reflection, one of the key qualities of innate leadership is precisely empathy.
With the help of empathy, women tend to be more observant about the behavior of their employees. They understand and connect with their subordinates more easily.
On a personal level, empathy helps women to establish a stronger relationship with employees. By caring about their personal lives and showing consideration, they tend to earn more respect among employees.
On a professional level, empathy increases the ability to understand employees' goals, motivations, job frustrations, etc. Thus, when employees feel heard and appreciated, they will manage to perform better at work.
Based on relationships to subordinates and behavior traits, theories of management and motivation identify two leadership styles:
- Transformational leadership
- Transactional leadership
Characteristics of transformational leadership (identified by psychologist Ronald E. Riggio):
- Inspirational motivation – Leaders aim to motivate employees by evoking a sense of purpose.
- Idealized influence – Leaders demonstrate and inspire trust and real values.
- Individualized consideration – Leaders care about employees’ needs and emotions.
- Intellectual stimulation – Leaders encourage critical thinking, creativity, and innovative business ideas.
Transactional leadership is described through different traits and those traits are:
- Goal-oriented – Leaders put primary focus on setting goals and assessing performance based on results.
- Conditional reinforcement – Leaders reward employees for achievements and punish them for underperformance.
- Management by exception – Leaders won’t get involved unless something goes wrong in the process.
- Establishing the role of the follower in employees – Leaders don’t share common goals with employees and thus mark employees with the role of the follower, not a potential leader.
Women tend to have the characteristics and methods of a transformational leader. In a world where business opportunities are consistently growing, transformational leaders will be essential.
New generations of workers won’t settle with the role of the follower. They want to be inspired by a respectful leader.
There is a hypothesis that women tend to self-sacrifice more than men. Whether this a built-in perspective established by patriarchal societies or gender features is yet to be discovered.
Either way, self-sacrifice (innate or imposed) contributes to women’s leadership skills. That readiness to put others in front of a personal gain is what makes an exceptional leader.
Several studies have confronted the connection between self-sacrifice and effectiveness in leadership and management. The results show that:
- Employees are inspired by self-sacrificing acts of leaders.
- A leader's self-sacrifice has a strong impact on employees' self-esteem.
- Self-sacrifice moderates employees' perspective of a leader's competence.
- A leader’s self-sacrifice can empower employees and thus influence employees' sense of competence and belonging.
Self-sacrifice is associated with inspiration, empowerment, competence, and motivation. Having such a leadership trait is a unique ability that only the best of people and the best of leaders have.
Another division in terms of leadership style is between relationship-oriented and task-oriented leaders. Behavioral experts made this division based on managers’ priorities and focus.
Relationship-oriented leaders primarily focus on company culture and intra-organizational relationships. This is the category where most women leaders fall under. With their strong people skills enhanced with empathy, women are more oriented towards building strong relationships within the company.
On the other hand, task-oriented leaders aim to achieve better success in tasks. While this can be an advantage in terms of a company's short-term goals, the company culture and relationship can suffer.
As companies consistently compete to attract and retain talented and dedicated employees, relationship-oriented leaders are more beneficial for modern management.
Relationship-oriented management leads to a healthy work environment and work relationships. It can decrease the frequency of conflict and assert respect and teamwork among employees.
How many times have we read or listened about women’s inborn desire to communicate? Talking about problems and having a great desire to solve any misunderstanding through open communication is what women are typically associated with.
These characteristics have actually proven to be of great value for leadership. In terms of communication, women are typically better evaluated than men.
“Women leaders are better at clearly explaining the demands, updating the employees on their performance, informing their team timely of any changes and deadlines, and expressing their ideas and thoughts through written and oral communication”, says Dorian Martin, an editor, team lead, and writing expert at the academic thesis writing services GetGoodGrade.com.
With this capability to establish a good communication flow women can organize their teams more efficiently.
More Powerful Presence of Women in Modern Management
Myths are slowly getting demystified and stereotypes are being unmasked. Every step our society takes towards crushing prejudices and narrow-mindedness is one step closer to more women leaders.
Women are taking more management roles in the world of business. That positive change is becoming stronger with each year.
So, is women leadership powered up with gender features the solution for modern management? We are yet to discover.
For now, the world has to accept that women don’t lack gender features to become successful leaders. They only lack the opportunity.