Gender and Leadership: Literature Review
Gender and Leadership Literature Review 1. Introduction Leadership theories and literature describe what leaders should do and on the other hand literature also exists on what leaders actually do, the former are prescriptive and the latter are descriptive (Bratton et al; 2005). Leadership style is a relatively consistent set of behaviours that characterise a leader (DuBrin; 1995).
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The main leadership theories encompass the trait, behaviour, contingency, power influence, and gender influence and exchange leadership perspectives.
This paper focuses on transformational leadership and thus will detail the theory underpinning transformational leadership vis a vis gender differences in leadership. A brief discussion on Leadership effectiveness as it relates to gender and Leadership styles will also be shown. In a study of gender and leadership styles it is important to highlight the deeper foundations that have a bearing on why men and women may lead differently. One of those causes has been found to be culture; a brief review of this construct and its’ bearing on gender has also been outlined in this section. . 2Gender and Leadership Swanepoel et al (2003) define gender as a “demographic factor that may influence Human Resources Management in organisations and which can lead to similar problems of discrimination in the workplace”. DuBrin (1995) state that the terms sex and gender arouse controversy both scientifically and politically. He further states that the term gender refers to perceptions about the differences among males and females whilst sex differences refer to actual tangible differences such as the fact that the mean height of men is greater than that of women.
The terms gender and sex are, however, often used interchangeably. Task and interpersonal styles in leadership research are obviously relevant to gender because of the stereotypes people have about sex differences in these aspects of behaviour (Ashmore, Del Boca, & Wohlers, 1986; Eagly & Steffen, 1984). Men are believed to be more self-assertive and motivated to control their environment (e. g. , more aggressive, independent, self-sufficient, forceful, and dominant). In contrast, women are believed to be more selfless and concerned with others (e. . , more kind, helpful, understanding, warm, sympathetic, and aware of others’ feelings). Although democratic versus autocratic style is a different (and narrower) aspect of leader behaviour than task-oriented and interpersonally oriented styles (see Bass, 1981), the democratic- autocratic dimension also relates to gender stereotypes, because one component of these stereotypes is that men are relatively dominant and controlling (i. e. , more autocratic and directive than women.
Bratton et al (2005) highlight a study conducted by Schein (1975) who extended the gender issue in Leadership further with the results confirming that to both the male and female managers who participated in the study; being a successful manager meant being masculine in terms of stereotypical behaviours (Bratton et al, 2005). Wajcman in Bratton, Grint and Nelson stated, “Some leadership behaviours are interpreted differently depending on the gender of the leader. For example, a particular action seen as “firm” when displayed by a man (e. , banging the table top with the hand) might be termed “hysterical” when displayed by a woman. ” (Bratton et al; 189). Women are said to find participative management more natural than men because they feel more comfortable interacting with people and that their natural sensitivity encourages group members to participate in decision- making (Dubrin; 1995). Yet as women move up the corporate ladder, their identification with the male model of corporate success becomes important and may even reject the few feminine traits that they may earlier have endorsed.
Bass (1998) in his review of studies other than his own concludes that there is no consistent pattern of male-female differences in leadership styles. Modern theory proposes that women lead differently than men (Bratton et al; 2005). This theory tends to promote the idea that women have the characteristics and skill that are necessary for effective leadership and that these skills and characteristics include a more interactional leadership style, the ability to build consensus, a tendency to empower others, and a greater ability to nurture others (Bratton et al; 2005).
Robbins (date) in Swanepoel et al (2003) points out that the similarities between women and men tend to outweigh the differences, and that these differences suggest that men are comfortable with a directive style while female managers prefer a democratic style (Swanepoel et al; 2003). The gender perspective argues that women leaders have an interactive, people centered, participative management style. Women leaders are associated with consensus building and power sharing.
Views in favour of the gender perspective advocate for equal opportunities at the work place; full utilization of women to utilize available human resources; acknowledgement of the “special contribution” women can make the work place due to their leadership style and alternate approaches to situations (Bratton, et al; 2005). Swanepoel et al (2003) state that in general women follow a transformational leadership style, which emphasises followers, consensus, and the use of charisma, personal reference and personal contact to enhance interpersonal relations and to influence followers.
Men, however prefer a more direct style where job performance is seen as transactional and they also tend to use formal position, power and authority to control people. To tackle the question of whether men and women have different leadership styles, Eagly and Johnson conducted a 1990 review of leadership studies. Notably, although lab studies viewed women as both interpersonally oriented and democratic and men to be both task-oriented and autocratic, field studies indicated a difference on only one of those dimensions: The omen were found to be more democratic, encouraging participation, and the men were more autocratic, directing performance. http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss A 2003 meta-analysis extended those results and indicated that women were slightly more likely than men to have the transformational leadership style. Women also appeared to reward good performance more than men, a very positive part of transactional leadership. Men were more likely to criticize subordinates and be less hands-on, styles found to be ineffective. http: www. psychologymatters. rg/womanboss. However, psychologists caution against concluding that women or men have some sort of natural or inherent leadership style. There is a possibility that women, knowing how negatively people respond to “bossy” women, soften their approach. Additionally, the research shows only averages, or tendencies, for each sex. Some men will have more “feminine” management styles; some women will have more “masculine” management styles. (http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss) Eagly’s advice is to be careful about the power of perception.
She says that even though the research found some differences in leadership style, “the sex differences are small because the leader role itself carries a lot of weight in determining people’s behaviour. ” She concludes that women are in some senses better leaders than men but suffer the disadvantage of leadership roles having a masculine image, especially in some settings and at higher levels. Stripping organizational leadership of its masculine aura would allow psychologists to get a clearer picture of any true differences between men and women. http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss)
Eagly and Johnson highlighted the following summaries from their review;” The preponderance of available evidence is that no consistently clear pattern of differences can be discerned in the supervisory style of female as compared to male leaders” (Bass, 198 l, p. 499);”There is as yet no research evidence that makes a case for sex differences in either leadership aptitude or style” (Kanter, 1977a, p. 199); “In general, comparative research indicates that there are few differences in the leadership styles of female and male designated leaders” (Bartol & Martin, 1986, 19. 278).
However Quantitative reviews of this research have established the presence rather than the absence of overall sex differences (Eagly, 1987; Eagly & Wood, in press; Hall, 1984). These differences, although typically not large, tend to be comparable in magnitude to most other findings reported in social psychological research. (http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss) 3. 3 Cultural Dimension – the link to gender Several theories have been put forward to account for gender differences including biological differences, differences in early childhood and the fulfilment of culturally prescribed gender role expectations.
Thomas and Bendixen (2000) refer to Thomas and Ely (1996) who capture the essence of cultural issues in organisations when they state that employees make choices at work based on their cultural background (Thomas and Bendixen; 2000). It is thus important for organisations to understand these values that employees bring into the workplace (Thomas and Bendixen; 2000). Thomas and Bendexin (2000) also lean on Trompenaars (1993) who identified different levels of culture, noting that national culture is at the highest level whilst organisational culture is at the next level down in the hierarchy of culture.
Gender related differences in leadership styles may have a foundation in culture. Schein (1990) defines organisational culture as “a pattern of basic assumptions, invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore is to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems. ” (Schein, 1990; 111).
He further identifies three levels at which culture manifests itself as observable artefacts, values, and basic underlying assumptions (Schein, 1990). Observable artefacts are things that one sees or feels upon entering an organisation. This includes the dress code, the physical layout, the smell and feel of the place to the more tangible things such as the annual reports and company records (Schein, 1990). “Through interviews, questionnaires, or survey instruments one can study a culture’s espoused and documented values, norms, ideologies, charters, and philosophies. (Schein, 1990; 112). More direct questioning can reveal the more the underlying assumptions, which “determine perceptions, thought processes, feelings and behaviour” (Schein, 1990; 112) For Edgar Schein (1985) the transformation that matters is a change in the corporate culture. What do leaders pay attention to, measure, and control sends symbolic signals to the rest of the corporate culture. Hofstede is a central figure in the development of literature on the cultural construct in leadership (Dickson, Hartog & Mitchelson; 2003).
He advances the idea that cultural differences are initially encountered as differences in shared values with values being defined as tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others (Dickson et al; 2003). Hofstede (1980,2001) described initially four culture dimensions; individualism-collectivism; masculinity-femininity; uncertainty avoidance; and power distance and a fifth dimension, future orientation was added in later work (Dickson et al; 2003). Power distance is “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally”.
Hofstede (in Dickson, Harthog & Mitchelson, 2003, pg 737). Uncertainty avoidance is defined as the extent to which the members of a society feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations (Dickson et al p. 740). Individualism versus collectivism ranges from societies in which the ties between individuals are “loose” and people are expected to take care of themselves and close family only to societies that are “tight” where people expect their “in-group to look after them and they do so in return (Dickson, et al. 2003). Masculinity versus femininity ranges from societies in which social gender roles are clearly distinct to societies in which social gender roles overlap (Dickson, et al. ; 2003). This dimension has a direct bearing on gender issues in that societal roles determine gender roles and these ultimately have a bearing on the leadership style that one practices, In her exploration of African management van der Colff (2003) uses the African tree concept advanced by Mbigi (1996).
According to this concept the main stem underpinning all the most important values of African History can be traced through ubuntu, which is the key to all African values and involves collectivism (van der Colff; 2003). “Traditionally African leadership is built on participation, responsibility and spiritual authority”. (van der Colff; 2003,258). Nussbaum (1996) in van der Colff (2003) is quoted as saying that African leadership requires transparency, accountability and legitimacy. The only way they can be legitimate is to be trustworthy themselves before they can expect trust from employees (van der Colff; 2003).
Bass (1997) has argued that transformational leadership is universally applicable. He proposed, that regardless of culture, transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good of the group or organization, followers become motivated to expend greater effort than would would usually be expected. While acknowledging the universality of transformational leadership, Bass recognized that cultural differences will contribute to differences at the individual level of measurement.
He stated “Variation occurs because the same concepts may contain specific thought processes, beliefs, implicit understandings, or behaviors in one culture not another” (p. 132). This raises the question of the universality of gender differences in transformational leadership. Although there have been several studies on gender differences in America, unknown is the extent that these findings are replicated in other cultures. This study will show some findings of transformational leadership with a Zimbabwean sample. 3. 4. Transformational Leadership theory
From a broad perspective, leadership styles can be transformational and transactional; a transformational leadership style is one that seeks to influence behaviour through inspirational and motivational means. Transactional leadership styles use contingency factors such as rewards and punishment to influence and affect behaviour (Densten, Gray & Sarros, 2002). The transactional leadership theories emphasise transactions between leaders and their followers. Transactional leaders get things done by giving contingent rewards such as recognition and pay increases.
These leaders usually manage by exception to monitor performance and take corrective action to remedy poor performance. They motivate followers by clarifying role and task requirements (Swanepoel; 2003). Transformational leadership was first coined by Burns (1978) and further developed by Bass (1985, 1998) and Yammarino & Bass, (1990) with research accumulating in the area over the past fourteen years. Transformational leadership is defined in terms of four inter-related factors: idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration.
Taken together, these sub-types are believed to represent the most effective attitudes and behaviours a leader can have. (Panopoulos; 1998). The transformational characteristic of idealised influence is based on earlier conceptualisations of charisma (e. g. House, 1977). The charismatic leader is able to inspire respect and higher order motivation in followers. The leader is able to communicate a sense of power and confidence in higher values and beliefs. The charismatic leader possesses a clear set of idealised qualities with which followers might wish to be associated (Panapoulos; 1998).
The leader who provides inspirational motivation to followers is likely to speak optimistically about the future, articulating a compelling vision of what must be achieved. He motivates followers by his/her own enthusiasm. The leader is therefore not merely a distant charismatic source of referent power but is also able to directly and effectively translate his/her own enthusiasm to followers (Panapoulos; 1998). The leader must also provide intellectual stimulation to followers. In providing intellectual stimulation, the leader is said to orient ollowers to awareness of problems, to their own thoughts and imagination, and to the recognition of their beliefs and values (Yammarino & Bass, 1990 in Panapoulos; 1998). Furthermore, by providing an intellectually stimulating environment, transformational leaders are able to foster the development of creative solutions to problems, which stand in the way of organisational goal attainment. Panapoulos (1998) states that from a humanistic perspective, the most outstanding component of transformational leadership is the leader’s individualised consideration of his/her followers.
According to Bass and his colleagues (Yammarino, Spangler & Bass, 1993 in Panapoulos; 1998), a leader’s use of individual consideration is a crucial element in followers’ achievement of their full potential through a close consideration of their developmental needs. In providing individual consideration, the leader is not only aware of and sensitive to the current needs of followers, but is also aiming to elevate those needs to a higher level (in combination with the use of the other factors of transformational leadership).
This can be done by coaching and mentoring, as well as by setting examples and tasks, which are developmentally consistent with the needs of each individual (Panapoulos; 1998). Gender differences in transformational leadership – A review of past research A number of authors have speculated on possible gender differences in the use of transformational leadership (e. g. , Avolio & Bass, 1988; Bycio, Hackett, & Allen, 1995), however, there has been a notable lack of evidence (Bass & Avolio, 1994). Bass contends there are none.
Yet, other studies show that women develop a “feminine style of leadership,” which is characterized by caring and nurturance, and men adopt a “masculine style of leadership”, which is dominating and task- oriented (Eagly, Makhijani, & Klonsky, 1992). In a study of 345 metropolitan branch managers Carless (1998) found that: Female managers are more likely than male managers to report that they take an interest in the personal needs of their staff, encourage self-development, use participative decision-making, give feedback and publicly recognize team achievements.
In summary, female managers report they use more interpersonal-oriented leadership behaviors compared to male managers (Carless, 1998). The review by Eagly and Johnson was the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of gender differences in leadership. Earlier reviews (e. g. , Bartol & Martin, 1986; Dobbins & Platz, 1986) were based on limited samples and were criticized because they failed to specify the selection criteria for inclusion in the review. Eagly and Johnson’s (1990) meta-analysis of gender differences in leadership revealed mixed findings.
An analysis of task-oriented style and interpersonal oriented style showed that women and men did not differ on these dimensions in organizational studies. Differences were noted for studies in which the sample did not formally hold a leadership position (experimental and assessment studies). On the other hand, significant gender differences were reported in the use of democratic leadership in organizational, experimental and assessment studies. Women used a more participative and inclusive style of leadership and men were more likely to use a directive, controlling style. Carless, 1998). Studies which have used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ; Bass, 1985b; Avolio, et al. , 1995) to examine gender differences in leadership style have reported conflicting findings. Bass, Avolio and Atwater (1996) examined gender differences in leader behaviour with three samples. Sample I consisted of 79 female and 150 male upper-level leaders who worked for American hi-tec, Fortune 50 firms. Subordinate ratings of leadership (N = 877) indicated that female leaders were rated higher on all transformational leader behaviors compared to male leaders.
These findings are consistent with an earlier study of leaders in the Roman Catholic church (Druskat, 1994). Sample 2, consisted of first-level supervisors employed by a number of organizations, 38 of the leaders were female and 58 were male. Subordinates (N = 271) observed no gender differences for the subscales of Intellectual Stimulation and Inspirational Motivation, however, females were reported as higher on the subscales of Charisma and Individual Consideration.
Sample 2 findings were consistent with an earlier study reported by Bass and Avolio (1994). Generally, in studies that report significant differences between females and males the effect sizes are very small and it is therefore argued that there is no practical differences between female and male leaders (Yammarino, Dubinsky, Comer & Jolson, 1997). In the third sample of 154 female leaders and 131 male leaders who worked for nonprofitable organizations (e. g. health care), subordinates (N = 913) reported no differences in the leader behavior of females and male leaders. Similary, Komives (1991) found no difference between female and male manager self-ratings of transformational leadership, with the exception of Intellectual Stimulation; women managers were found to be significantly higher than their male counterparts(Carless,1998). According to the gender-centred perspective, individual attributes vary according to their gender (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987; Hennig & Jardin, 1977; Loden, 1985).
This approach proposes that, women develop a feminine style of leadership, which is characterized by caring and nurturance, and men adopt a masculine style of leadership, which is dominating and taskoriented (Eagly, Makhijani, & Klonsky, 1992). Similarly, the social-role theory (Eagly, 1987) proposes that individuals behave in accordance with societal expectations about their gender role. Through the socialization process, people learn to conform to cultural expectations about their gender role.
The feminine model of leadership includes typical transformational leadership behaviors, for example, participatory decision-making, collaboration and quality interpersonal relationships between leader and subordinate (Eagly, Karau, Miner & Johnson, 1994; Helgesen, 1990; Loden, 1985). Hence, it could be expected that females and males may differ in their use of certain transformational leadership behaviors(Carless,1998). The structural perspective suggests that the organizational role the individual occupies is more important then the gender of the individual (Kanter, 1977).
Within organizations clear guidelines exist for the expected performance of managers, hence the major issue for managers is meeting the organization’s expectations regarding effective management performance, not conforming to culturally defined gender roles. Assuming female and male managers occupy the same role within an organization and have equivalent access to status and power there is no reason to expect gender differences in leadership styles (Eagly, Karau, & Makhijani, 1995).
This suggests that when examining gender differences in leadership behavior it is important to compare women and men who occupy the same position in the organization and are at the same level in the organizational hierarchy. (Carless ,1998). Eagly and her colleagues (Eagly & Johnson, 1990; Eagly, et al. , 1995) suggest that gender differences vary according to the extent of gender congeniality. Gender congeniality is described as the “fit between gender roles and particular leadership roles” (Eagley, et al. , 1995, p. 29). It reflects an individual’s interest in a specific leadership role and appraisal of their competence to perform that role. In some organizations, such as the military, leadership positions are defined in more masculine terms than feminine. Thus, leadership positions in these organizations would be described as congenial to men. In others, such as education and nursing, leadership is defined in more feminine ways and therefore could be described as congenial to women(Carless, 1998). 3. 5Effective Leadership
Since women began to climb the corporate ladder, authorities have asked if they have what it takes to lead groups and organizations. According to the research, while men and women are equally effective in some settings, more often effectiveness depends on the fit between the setting and management gender. For example, women’s typically more mentoring, coaching style is more favorably received in female-dominated professions; men’s more typically “command and control” style is well received in male-dominated professions. http: www. sychologymatters. org/womanboss . In essence therefore, all things being equal, men and women are equally effective. But given varied work settings and a workplace whose top managers are still more likely to be male, all things rarely are equal. For example, women are slightly more likely to be “transformational” leaders, serving as role models, helping employees develop their skills, and motivating them to be dedicated and creative. That approach may actually be more effective in today’s less hierarchical organizations.
But not all workplaces are alike: The participatory style may backfire in traditional male settings such as the military or organized sports. Conversely, the command-and-control style more typical of men may backfire in a social-service agency or retail outlet. (http:www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss) A 1995 review by Alice Eagly, PhD, Steven Karau, PhD and Mona Makhijani, PhD, of more than 80 different studies found that when aggregated over the organizational and laboratory experimental studies in the sample, male and female leaders were equally effective.
The leaders or managers assessed in the studies were typically first-level or first-line supervisors, with a strong minority of studies looking at mid-level managers or managers of mixed or unknown levels. The analysis also showed that women were more effective leaders in female-dominated or female-oriented settings, and that men were more effective leaders in male-dominated or male-oriented settings. Thus working in a leadership role congruent with one’s gender gives the perception that one is more effective. (http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss) Theories of transformational leadership (e. . , Bass, 1985a; Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Kouzes & Posner, 1987; Sashkin & Burke; 1990; Trice & Beyer, 1986) have focused on identifying a range of leadership behaviors which contribute to effective performance. Although these theories differ in the leadership behaviors they distinguish, there exists a number of common themes. Transformational leaders articulate a vision, use lateral or nontraditional thinking, encourage individual development, give regular feedback, use participative decision-making, and promote a cooperative and trusting work environment. http: www. psychologymatters. org/womanboss) Densten, et al. ; (2002) emphasise that successful leaders are able to build a strong corporate culture, are truth-tellers, can see the invisible, that is, spot potential winners or identify trends before their rivals or customers, are fast learners and good communicators. Leaders are expected to anticipate future events before they occur and have a vision to overcome uncertainties. Managers on the other hand are expected to run current operations effectively and efficiently (Bratton, et al. ; 2005).
Darling in Swanepoel, Erasmus et al argues “a real test of successful leadership in management lies in giving, to the greatest extent possible, opportunities to others within the situational context of the firm. One does not have to be brilliant to be a good leader, but you have to understand people- how they feel, what makes them tick, and the most effective ways to influence them. ”(Swanepoel, Erasmus, Van Wyk, Schenk; 359) DuBrin (1995) state that in order to be a leader one has to make a difference and to facilitate positive changes.
They further state that the common characteristic of effective leaders is their ability to inspire and stimulate others to achieve worthwhile goals (Dubrin; 1995). Drucker (2004) outlines eight practices followed by effective executives. He says that they ask, “What needs to be done? ” and “What is right for the enterprise”. Effective executives also develop action plans, they take responsibility for decisions and communicating, focus on opportunities rather than problems, run productive meetings and focus on “we” rather than “I” (Drucker; 2004).
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