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INTRODUCTION

Women in high-level leadership positions, such as corporate CEOs, when

studied, seem to exhibit the same sorts of leadership behaviors as their

male counterparts. That is probably because the demands of the leadership

role require certain actions and behaviors to succeed. In addition, because

of the hurdles that women must leap to get to the top (leadership and

gender expert, Alice Eagly, refers to this as the "labyrinth" that women, but

not men, need to go through), it could be the case that only women who

exhibit the same sorts of leadership styles and behaviors as male leaders

make it through. So, studying leaders at the top, gives the impression that

there are no big differences in how men and women lead.

You get a somewhat different picture if you ask followers and leaders about

male and female leaders. They notice differences that are in line with

stereotypes about men and women, reporting that female leaders are more

nurturing, empathic, and responsive than male leaders, but they will also

report the negative side (e.g., moody). Male leaders, on the other hand, are

perceived to be more action-oriented and more focused on tasks. As a

Catalyst study concludes that according to leaders and followers in the

workplace, "women leaders take care, men leaders take charge." Realize,

however, that this involves people's perceptions of leaders, colored by

stereotypes and expectations.

Finally, there is a growing body of research that has studied the leadership

styles and leadership "potential" of men and women, typically men and women

managers (but also women in non-managerial positions). For example, using

1
the theory of transformational leadership as an indicator of successful

leadership (transformational leaders are inspirational, positive role models,

concerned about followers, empowering, and push followers to be creative

and take chances), research shows that women, as a group, have more

transformational qualities than men. In other words, and based on this

research, women have more leadership potential and tend to lead more

effectively than men (I discussed this in an earlier post).

So, what are the implications? Well, as attitudes about women leaders

change (they are changing, albeit ever so slowly) and the "labyrinth" becomes

less difficult to navigate, we expect more to women attain high-level

leadership positions. Noted leadership scholar, Bernard Bass, predicted that

by the year 2034 the majority of high-level leaders will be women, based on

their more transformational qualities. Of course, men in leadership positions

are also realizing that the old way of leading - taking charge (command and

control) - may not be as effective in today's world and in the future, so they

learn to adapt and change how they lead.

HOW DO MEN AND WOMEN DIFFER IN THEIR LEADERSHIP


STYLES?

It is tempting to assume that the differences between men and women

would automatically favor men, but they don’t. In today’s organizations,

flexibility, teamwork, trust and information sharing are replacing rigid

structures, competitive individualism, control and secrecy. The best leaders

listen, motivate and provide support to their people. The leadership

communication styles that women typically use make them better than men

at negotiating. Some communication strengths for female leaders include:

2
they enhance team work, they encourage innovation through collaboration

and they increase opportunities for continuous improvement because of open

access to information. Some strengths for male leaders include: they tend to

set strong boundaries, they assign clear responsibilities and they weed out

weak performers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE SEXES?

The similarities among men and women managers are surprising. An extensive

review of research suggests that similarities in leadership styles tend to

outweigh the differences. Because of career self-selection and organization

selection, people who choose careers in law enforcement or real estate have

a lot in common. So do individuals who choose managerial or supervisory

roles. Similarly, organizations tend to recruit and promote into leadership

positions people who project leadership attributes.

DO GENDER DIFFERENCES IN COMMUNICATION PATTERNS


TRANSLATE TO POWER AT THE WORKPLACE?

Yes. Problem solving, influencing superiors, delegating responsibility and

other take-charge types of skills are key components of interpersonal

power. Research suggests that women robbed of this interpersonal power in

a company must rely more on their positional power and their place in the

hierarchy of their organization. As women rely on the formal authority of

their positions for their influence base, they comprise only approximately 16

percent of Fortune 500 corporate offices. Therefore, their positional power

is limited.

3
HOW CAN GENDER STEREOTYPES AFFECT AN ORGANIZATION?

Companies may suffer by not developing and retaining some of the best

talent, which is key in remaining competitive in the global business world.

The perceptions by senior executives of women and men are often more

informed by gender-based stereotypes than facts. This leads to

misrepresentation of the true talents of women and contributes to the

startling gap in business leadership. The effects of gender-based

stereotyping can be devastating, potentially undermining women’s capacity to

lead and posing serious challenges to women’s career advancements. Women

are stereotyped as being better at feminine caretaking skills such as

supporting and rewarding. Men are perceived as having essentially masculine

taking-charge skills such as influencing superiors and delegating

responsibility.

The stereotype that dominates current corporate thinking is that men are

better problem-solvers than women. Since men far outnumber women in top

management positions — women make up less than 2 percent of the U.S.

Fortune 500 and Fortune 1,000 CEOs — this may keep women at lower

management and professional positions.

DATA ANALYSIS ON LEADERSHIP DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN


AND WOMEN

According to research carried out by Abinuola, (2007) recently conducted on

a survey of both men and women leaders to determine how the sexes match

up on specific areas of leadership. The ultimate question being – Do men and

women lead differently? 97% of women and 79% of men believe men and

4
women focus their behavior differently as leaders. • Specifically, 88% of

surveyed women believe men lead by “promoting themselves and their

abilities.” It seems many men believe this as well. 60.9% of men believe men

work harder than women at “promoting themselves and their abilities”, •

70.8% women believe women focus on “seeking input from all concerned

sources”; 68.2% of men agree that women are focused on this behavior. It

seems a large portion of respondents agree that men tend to focus more on

the end game, while women focus more on how to get there.

According to the survey, leadership behaviors between the sexes differ in

these ways:

-Women concentrate on relationships with others by seeking input,

organizing, and managing a team; while -men hone in on the final outcome and

promoting their professional abilities. Although this study suggests there

are differences in the way the sexes lead, 23% of both sexes agree that the

most important characteristic of a leader in the 21st century is integrity.

Inspiration (11.7%) and flexibility (11.7%) tied for the second most

important characteristic according to men. For women, having a vision (14%)

was the second most important characteristic, closely followed by flexibility,

people skills and adaptability to change (all tied at 13%).

Yes, both men and women think the other gender leads differently; this can

lead to misunderstandings and does lead to tension in the workplace. As

advisors to senior executives, The administrative control of Kwara state

Government knows that men and women can benefit from leadership coaching

to become more effective in their role as a leader. So leadership training is

organized by the state government in order to help Leaders in public sectors

5
create more effective leaders and to bridge the gap between whom the

leader is and whom he or she needs to be to succeed.

CONCLUSION

Despite the fact that companies have shown an increased commitment to

diversity, inclusion and advancement of women in the workplace, the

representation of women in leadership positions remains stagnant. Companies

need to take active steps to combat stereotyping by instituting more

rigorous and unambiguous evaluation processes, as well as educating

managers and executives about stereotyping. The achievements of women

leaders need to be showcased, particularly those in male-dominated fields.

Development of a gender-sensitive workplace should be viewed as an overall

company policy which strives to improve gender equality and enable women to

participate equally in decision making. Those companies with a supportive,

equitable business culture enjoy better financial results, improved market

share and improved access to a growing, well-educated segment of the

workforce.

So, are women better managers than men? In terms of their day-to-day

actions, women managers should have advantages. But the answer is really

not so simple because managers do well only if people accept their authority.

In roles that have been held mainly by men, women’s competence is often

questioned. In these situations, women managers can face a double standard.

They have to be extra-competent to be recognized as effective. Where

women managers are more common, this type of bias is less likely to prevail.

6
REFERENCES

Ahearn,K.K., Ferris, G.R., Hochwarter, W.A., Douglas, C., & Ammeter, A.P.
(2004). Leader political skill and team performance. Journal of Management,
30, 309-27

Allinson, C.W., Armstrong, S.J., and Hayes, J. (2001). The effects of


cognitive style on leader-mamber exchange: a study of manager-subordinate
dyads. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74 (2), 201-20

Abinuola, S, O. (2007) An Appraisal of Administrative Task of Ilorin State


Government Management Unpublished M.ED Thesis Ilorin University, Ilorin,
Kwara State.

Armstrong, S.J., and Sadler-Smith, E. (2006). Cognitive style and its


relevance for the management of careers, paper presented at the 66th
Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta, GA, 11-16 August

Bass B.M. (1981). Handbook of Leadership: A survey of theory and research.


New York: Free Press

Bass B.M. (1997). Does the transactional- transformational leadership


paradigm transcend organizational and national boundaries? American
Psychology, 52(3), 130-9

Bass B.M., Avolio B.J., & Goodheim L. (1987). Biography and the assessment
of transformational leadership at the world-class level. Journal of
Management, 13, 7-19

Preferences to managerial behaviors. Human Resource Development


Quarterly, 11(2), 133-57

7
Do Men and Women Lead Differently?
Who's Better?
Are men better leaders, or do we just think so?
Published on March 23, 2010

This is an age-old question. And the answer is complicated.

Women in high-level leadership positions, such as corporate CEOs, when studied, seem
to exhibit the same sorts of leadership behaviors as their male counterparts. That is
probably because the demands of the leadership role require certain actions and behaviors
to succeed. In addition, because of the hurdles that women must leap to get to the top
(leadership and gender expert, Alice Eagly, refers to this as the "labyrinth" that women,
but not men, need to go through), it could be the case that only women who exhibit the
same sorts of leadership styles and behaviors as male leaders make it through. So,
studying leaders at the top, gives the impression that there are no big differences in how
men and women lead.

You get a somewhat different picture if you ask followers and leaders about male and
female leaders. They notice differences that are in line with stereotypes about men and
women, reporting that female leaders are more nurturing, empathic, and responsive than
male leaders, but they will also report the negative side (e.g., moody). Male leaders, on
the other hand, are perceived to be more action-oriented and more focused on tasks. As a
Catalyst study concludes that according to leaders and followers in the workplace,

8
"women leaders take care, men leaders take charge." Realize, however, that this involves
people's perceptions of leaders, colored by stereotypes and expectations.

Finally, there is a growing body of research that has studied the leadership styles and
leadership "potential" of men and women, typically men and women managers (but also
women in non-managerial positions). For example, using the theory of transformational
leadership as an indicator of successful leadership (transformational leaders are
inspirational, positive role models, concerned about followers, empowering, and push
followers to be creative and take chances), research shows that women, as a group, have
more transformational qualities than men. In other words, and based on this research,
women have more leadership potential and tend to lead more effectively than men (I
discussed this in an earlier post).

So, what are the implications? Well, as attitudes about women leaders change (they are
changing, albeit ever so slowly) and the "labyrinth" becomes less difficult to navigate, we
expect more to women attain high-level leadership positions. Noted leadership scholar,
Bernard Bass, predicted that by the year 2034 the majority of high-level leaders will be
women, based on their more transformational qualities. Of course, men in leadership
positions are also realizing that the old way of leading - taking charge (command and
control) - may not be as effective in today's world and in the future, so they learn to adapt
and change how they lead.

What are your thoughts?

Books reporting research on gender and leadership:

NEW

Organizational Leadership

Leadership styles

Men and women lead differently, but effectively

By Chelan David

Smart Business Los Angeles | August 2006

ShareThis
The different communication styles between the sexes are well documented. Men tend to
be more direct and goal-oriented while women tend to be relationship-oriented and seek

9
harmony. However, it is important not to pigeonhole the skills that each gender brings to
the table as far as leadership abilities go.

The capability to meld different communication styles is essential for organizations


hoping to fully realize their potential. While males account for the majority of leadership
positions, the influx of females into the workplace indicates that the tide may soon be
shifting. “It has been about 30 years since women first began entering the workplace in a
large number,” points out Yael Hellman, Ed.D., a professor in organizational leadership
at Woodbury University. “Women now make up more than half of all college students
and about half of all law and medical students.”

Smart Business spoke with Hellman about the different types of leadership styles that
men and women exhibit, the dangers of gender stereotyping and how to provide an
environment that encourages equal opportunities for advancement.

How do men and women differ in their leadership styles?


It is tempting to assume that the differences between men and women would
automatically favor men, but they don’t. In today’s organizations, flexibility, teamwork,
trust and information sharing are replacing rigid structures, competitive individualism,
control and secrecy. The best leaders listen, motivate and provide support to their people.
The leadership communication styles that women typically use make them better than
men at negotiating. Some communication strengths for female leaders include: they
enhance team work, they encourage innovation through collaboration and they increase
opportunities for continuous improvement because of open access to information. Some
strengths for male leaders include: they tend to set strong boundaries, they assign clear
responsibilities and they weed out weak performers.

What are some of the similarities between the sexes?


The similarities among men and women managers are surprising. An extensive review of
research suggests that similarities in leadership styles tend to outweigh the differences.
Because of career self-selection and organization selection, people who choose careers in
law enforcement or real estate have a lot in common. So do individuals who choose
managerial or supervisory roles. Similarly, organizations tend to recruit and promote into
leadership positions people who project leadership attributes.

Do gender differences in communication patterns translate to power at the


workplace?
Yes. Problem solving, influencing superiors, delegating responsibility and other take-
charge types of skills are key components of interpersonal power. Research suggests that
women robbed of this interpersonal power in a company must rely more on their
positional power and their place in the hierarchy of their organization. As women rely on
the formal authority of their positions for their influence base, they comprise only
approximately 16 percent of Fortune 500 corporate offices. Therefore, their positional
power is limited.

10
How can gender stereotypes affect an organization?
Companies may suffer by not developing and retaining some of the best talent, which is
key in remaining competitive in the global business world. The perceptions by senior
executives of women and men are often more informed by gender-based stereotypes
than facts. This leads to misrepresentation of the true talents of women and contributes
to the startling gap in business leadership.

The effects of gender-based stereotyping can be devastating, potentially undermining


women’s capacity to lead and posing serious challenges to women’s career
advancements. Women are stereotyped as being better at feminine caretaking skills such
as supporting and rewarding. Men are perceived as having essentially masculine taking-
charge skills such as influencing superiors and delegating responsibility.

The stereotype that dominates current corporate thinking is that men are better problem-
solvers than women. Since men far outnumber women in top management positions —
women make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 and Fortune 1,000 CEOs —
this may keep women at lower management and professional positions.

How can an organization create a culture that is conducive to equal opportunities


for both sexes?
Despite the fact that companies have shown an increased commitment to diversity,
inclusion and advancement of women in the workplace, the representation of women in
leadership positions remains stagnant.

Companies need to take active steps to combat stereotyping by instituting more rigorous
and unambiguous evaluation processes, as well as educating managers and executives
about stereotyping. The achievements of women leaders need to be showcased,
particularly those in male-dominated fields. Development of a gender-sensitive
workplace should be viewed as an overall company policy which strives to improve
gender equality and enable women to participate equally in decision making. Those
companies with a supportive, equitable business culture enjoy better financial results,
improved market share and improved access to a growing, well-educated segment of the
workforce.

YAEL HELLMAN is a professor of organizational leadership at Woodbury University.


Reach her at (818) 252-5145 or yael.hellman@woodbury.edu.

NEW
Do Women Lead Differently Than Men?
Americans could elect our first female president in 2008. What the most powerful
women of the past can teach us about how to rule in the future.

By Barbara Kantrowitz
Newsweek

Oct. 15, 2007 issue - She was born into a profoundly dysfunctional family. Her father

11
married six times—and essentially ordered hits on two of his wives, including her mother
(whose major crime may have been giving birth to a daughter instead of a son). Jealous
relatives plotted against her. As a teenager, she was locked up in a tower. If she were
alive today, she could write a best-selling memoir about her abusive childhood and
appear on "Oprah." Instead, Elizabeth I became one of the most powerful and respected
leaders in history.

This year, as Americans contemplate making Sen. Hillary Clinton our first female
president, it is instructive to look back at Elizabeth and other women who wielded power
long before the age of speechwriters, personal stylists and YouTube campaigning.
Cleopatra, for example, ruled ancient Egypt with fierce political savvy while giving birth
to children by Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (twins in the latter case). If she worried
about balancing work and family, she left no record of it. This was a woman who
understood the importance of the grand gesture. Once, according to a history by Pliny the
Elder, she bet Antony that she could spend 10 million sesterces (a Roman coin) on
dinner. In the midst of a pedestrian meal, she dropped a valuable pearl earring into a cup
of vinegar, watched it dissolve and drank it.

In their pursuit of power, women have been as ruthless as any man. And they haven't had
to apologize for it. In 18th-century Russia, Catherine the Great vastly extended the
borders of the Russian Empire, became a generous patron of the arts and enjoyed many
lovers (royalty does have its privileges)—although any story you may have heard about
shenanigans with a horse is apocryphal. More recently, elected leaders like Golda Meir,
Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher proved that women can be just as tough as men,
and often tougher. And just like a man, they can pay the ultimate price in their pursuit of
power, as Gandhi did when she was assassinated in 1984 by Sikh separatists.

Even in this stellar company, Elizabeth I still stands alone. From her coronation in 1559
until her death nearly 45 years later, she guided England with great skill. The country was
transformed from an economically troubled backwater beset by religious strife into one of
the strongest nations on earth. Commerce flourished. Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake
explored the New World. Shakespeare, Marlowe and Spenser produced their greatest
work. England defeated the Spanish Armada in an epic battle.

In the 400 years since her death, Elizabeth's legend has been burnished by hundreds of
plays, books and movies—most recently, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" with Cate
Blanchett, which opens Friday. (Portraying Elizabeth is a good deal for an actress; the
role earned Helen Mirren an Emmy and Judi Dench an Oscar.)

In many of these re-creations, Elizabeth is a remote, archaic figure—the unmarried


Virgin Queen (exactly how virginal is a mystery). But she was actually a public-relations
whiz. On the day of her coronation, she rode through London under a brocade canopy as
crowds cheered. Then she immediately tackled her nation's toughest problem—religion—
by reinstating the Protestant Church. She discouraged persecution of Roman Catholics,
however, telling her counselors, "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls."

12
Over the years, Elizabeth downsized her Privy Council, her closest advisers, in order to
run her government more efficiently. She also made it clear that while she listened to
them, the final decision was always hers. She exercised power as firmly as any man, but
used her femininity to reinforce her popularity. In her most celebrated speech, just before
the defeat of the Armada, she addressed the matter directly. "I know I have the body of a
weak and feeble woman," she said, "but I have the heart and stomach of a king." Her
particular blend of strength and compassion would play just as well in 2008.

NEW

Female executives lead differently from


MEN
Female leaders operate differently in the workplace than their male counterparts.
Women tend to be more assertive, persuasive and willing to take risks, and they have a
stronger need to get things done than male executives, according to a new study
conducted jointly by Caliper, a Princeton-based management consulting firm, and
Aurora, a London-based firm which advances women and sponsors a 20,000-member
businesswomen's network.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Top female executives also were found to be more empathic and flexible and to have
stronger interpersonal skills than their male colleagues.

The study included an in-depth personality assessment by Caliper, a demographic


analysis and interviews with 60 female leaders from top U.S. and U.K. companies. The
female leaders were matched to a representative sample of male leaders from Caliper's
database.

"We're looking at a different paradigm of leadership, and it plays naturally to the


strengths of women," says Regina Sacha, vice president of human resources for FedEx
Custom Critical. "The tide has turned. The leadership skills that come naturally to
women are now absolutely necessary for companies to continue to thrive," continues
Sacha. "It certainly is the reverse of how it was when I first started out in the workplace.
It seems like poetic justice."

COPYRIGHT 2005 Society for Human Resource Management


COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

"Female executives lead differently from men". HR Magazine. FindArticles.com. 25


Aug, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_6_50/ai_n13826251/

13
COPYRIGHT 2005 Society for Human Resource Management
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Do women lead differntly then men?


I suppose that you mean in politics. Yes
definitely women lead differently. This
does not mean good or better.
The biggest leader in the world is THE
MOTHER and Most mothers do very
fine job better than fathers.

In every aspect of life, Women has


different outlook. Women are more
cautious than men, Most women scare to
take risk which is good some times. In
general women respect life more than
men.
NEW

Women vs Men: Do Women Lead Differently than Men? – 1

women lead differently than men? It seems the answer is “yes.” Survey results show men
and women tend to agree on the exact behaviors that reveal the differences for women
leaders and men leaders. Let’s look at the facts:

97% of women and 79% of men believe men and women focus their behavior differently
as leaders … specifically (1) Women believe men lead by “promoting themselves and
their abilities.”; and (2) Men believe women focus on “seeking input from all concerned

14
sources” and are found to be more empathic and flexible and to have stronger
interpersonal skills than their male colleagues.

In other words, leadership behaviors between the sexes differ by: (a) women concentrate
on relationships with others by seeking input, organizing, and managing a team; while (b)
men hone in on the final outcome and promoting their professional abilities.

So what are the skills and behaviors women in leadership should direct their
developmental efforts? Let’s begin with setting and completing goals. According to a
2009 survey conducted by The Executive Leadership Council… women, specifically
women of color, “should seek high-visibility stretch assignments to improve their access
to senior management and C-Suite positions.”

Seeking challenging assignments will provide the opportunities to practice skills and
cultivate character-driven behaviors required to reach success. Women are most likely to
find these opportunities for real-time practice in the challenges in their current job or in
new assignments sought out in community. Consequentially, challenging assignments
provides learning by doing, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and trying it again.
Lastly, challenging assignments can motivate women to improve. If you don’t improve
the skills and character-driven behaviors you’ve targeted, you’ll likely not do well in the
assignment. It will be obvious to you and others that you aren’t reaching your leadership
development goals.

I encourage women to stretch themselves in developing their leadership skills, if climbing


the corporate ladder or being a community advocate is their desire.

Stay tuned for the next post: Women vs Men: Do Women Lead Differently than Men? –
2.

© 2010 Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A. All rights reserved.

Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A., Leadership Development Strategist, consults and coaches


senior and executive women in leadership to climb their ladders of success and achieve a
quality work/life balance by conquering challenges and breakingthrough barriers. Check
out her BLOG: Leadership Notes at http://karlyndhenderson.com and follower
her twitter@HendersonKarlyn.

NEW

10 Tips For Leadership Success

July 9th, 2010 @ Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A.

1. Get rid of negative thinking. Negative thinking only blocks positive action and is
self-destructive.

15
2. Feed your mind with spiritual, pure, and progressive thoughts, just as you would
feed your body with good, wholesome food.
3. Remember that failure is a mind-set; however, success is a mind-set, too.
4. Success begins the moment you acquire self-confidence.
5. You must plan for success. Fail to plan, fail to succeed.
6. Don’t wait for opportunity to find you, find opportunity, make things happen by
creating your own opportunities rather than waiting for you “big break”
7. Some failure is expected, however, learn from your failures. Remember to have
faith in your potential when you fail and succeed.
8. Obstacles are blown apart by perseverance and determination.
9. Success does not necessarily mean material success. Success includes spiritual,
peace, emotional maturity, self-respect, and family success.
10. Finally, don’t give up! Worthwhile things are often the hardest to achieve.

A Leaders 3 Most Underutilized Words July 2nd, 2010 @ Karlyn


D. Henderson, M.A.

It’s tempting to banish the words: “I don’t know” from a leader’s vocabulary. After all,
you are a leader and leaders are supposed to have all of answers. More so, you gain your
followers trust when you have the answers.

.So what happens on the rare occasion when you don’t know?

.Such a candid admission from a leader can actually build credibility, but only if “I don’t
know” is followed by the words, “but I know where I can find the answer.” And
frequently, leaders will turn to other leaders and valuable resources to find the answers
needed to move the organization and/or team forward.

.Consider the resource, Success and Savvy in 60 Minutes, a leader’s laser coaching
session to draw insights on leadership topics like: vision casting, communication,
authority, team building, followship, and much more.

.Not only will Success and Savvy in 60 Minutes help unearth answers, it will also provide
a method of effective communication between you and those you lead. All of which
makes those three underutilized words much easier to use.

Do Women Make Better Bosses?


Do “female bosses tend to be better managers, better advisers, mentors, rational
thinkers”?

That is the view of Carol Smith, the senior vice president and chief brand officer for the
Elle Group, expressed in a short interview published inside The Times’s business section

16
a week ago Sunday. Ms. Smith also said that male bosses “love to hear themselves talk”
and that in some previous jobs she purposely arrived late to meetings so she could miss
the men’s conversations about golf and football.

The interview, conducted by Adam Bryant, The Times’s deputy business editor,
generated a lot of reaction and debate among readers last week.

What does research show about the differences between women and men as managers?

• Alice Eagly, Northwestern University


• Leora Tanenbaum, author of “Catfight”
• Joanna Barsh, McKinsey and Company
• Susan Pinker, psychologist and columnist
• Gary N. Powell, University of Connecticut
• Sharon Meers, former managing director at Goldman Sachs

Advantages, Yes, but Also a Double Standard

Alice Eagly is chairman of the department of social psychology at Northwestern


University.

As a researcher on managerial behavior, I have read hundreds of studies that have


compared women and men as managers. When we summarize all of that research, some
differences do show up, although only “on the average.”

As with all averages, there are many exceptions. But here’s what we know from research:

Women are less ‘bossy,’ probably because people dislike bossy women even more than
bossy men.

First, as Carol Smith illustrates, women are less “bossy,” probably because people dislike
bossy women even more than bossy men. As a result, female managers are more
collaborative and democratic than male managers. Second, compared with men, women
use a more positive approach by encouraging and urging others rather than a negative
approach of scolding and reprimanding them. Third, women attend more to the
individuals they work with, by mentoring them and taking their particular situations into
account.

Finally, there is the matter of getting the job done efficiently. Most managers, male and
female, get their work done in a timely way, but some do not. When you find one of
those barely functioning managers — that is, someone who avoids solving problems and

17
just doesn’t get the job done, that person is more likely to be a man than a woman. Why?
Perhaps because a woman would be fired or demoted more quickly for poor managing.

So, are women better managers than men? In terms of their day-to-day actions, women
managers should have advantages. But the answer is really not so simple because
managers do well only if people accept their authority.

In roles that have been held mainly by men, women’s competence is often questioned. In
these situations, women managers can face a double standard. They have to be extra-
competent to be recognized as effective. Where women managers are more common, this
type of bias is less likely to prevail.

Belittling Other Women

Leora Tanenbaum is author of “Catfight: Rivalries Among Women: From Diets to


Dating, From the Boardroom to the Delivery Room.”

Yes, countless female managers are great at making lists and sure, lots of men love to
hear the sound of their own voices — endlessly. But none of this behavior matters if it’s
accompanied with a denial of the continued existence of sexism in the workplace.

Many women who make it to senior management feel a need to prove their own
superiority.

Consider: Women are routinely undervalued and assumed to lack competence.


Successful men don’t have to worry about when and if to become parents; successful
women do. Men earn more and are promoted more.

Troublingly, many individual women who make it to senior management refuse to


acknowledge these very real conditions. They position themselves as uniquely and
unusually qualified, implicitly belittling other women in a move to prove their own
superiority.

Upon becoming president and C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard in 1999, Carly Fiorina


immediately distanced herself from her corporate sisters. Fiorina announced that “there is
not a glass ceiling…. My gender is interesting but really not the subject of the story
here.” Whether or not Fiorina was a superior CEO because she was a woman is certainly
debatable — she was forced out in 2005 — and she was succeeded by another woman,
Patricia Dunn, who was accused of spying on the company’s board members.

The best managers, female or male, are those who admit that the corporate structure
favors men and who recognize their responsibility to help others follow in their footsteps.

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More Emotional, for Better or Sometimes Worse

Joanna Barsh is a director in the New York office of McKinsey and Company and co-
author of “How Remarkable Women Lead,” to be published in September.

We’ve been researching remarkable women leaders for the past five years. Indeed, we’ve
now interviewed well over 100 women and a few good men. We’ve also developed a
research survey that almost 2,000 men and women have responded to from around the
world.

In a word, women have an edge over men in terms of what we call centered leadership.
Women tend to look for meaning more than men at work (no surprise, men go for pay
and status more often).

Women are natural relationship builders, but in general they take fewer risks than men.

Women also bring emotion to the workplace, and when those emotions are positive —
that is quite powerful. Psychologists tell us that women experience emotions more at the
extremes than men.
That’s why many women do replay negative events over and over.

But female optimists are a different story. Whereas many men rush off in any direction
when adversity strikes, optimist women diagnose the situation, make a plan and then act.
Are pessimists doomed to the cycle of spiraling down? Not at all. Positive psychologists
teach learned optimism, and we can all take a lesson there.

Then there is connecting. Women are natural relationship-builders. But the debate rages
as to whether men or women are better at networking. Our own work suggests women
hold back, more reluctant to use reciprocity to build “transactional” relationships. That
said, the research shows women are more inclusive and build consensus to reach
decisions — something that may be increasingly important for large, complex and
changing companies today.

When it comes to engaging, men are risk-takers. The women who have made their way
to the top have also taken risk — it is the best way to develop at an accelerated pace. In
general, we have found that many women don’t. We wait until we have all the necessary
skills or the full answer.

Our model ends on energizing, because most women still do more of the household
work. Energizing is critical for leaders — both to sustain one’s own path and also to
infuse energy into the organization. One area where women can improve is to stop (yes)
multitasking when our full attention is required. When you attempt to facilitate a phone

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conference while doing email, your brain switches between tasks, and you lose focus and
energy.

When men and women assessed their own centered leadership practices, it turned out
that women scored higher on almost all factors by a marginal amount. We haven’t got
enough data to validate that finding, but there’s room for thought.

Are these the right attributes to gauge leadership? We believe they are even more
important in today’s marketplace.

Women Are More Effective Mind Readers

Susan Pinker is a psychologist and columnist for the Globe and Mail in Canada. She is
the author of “The Sexual Paradox,” about the roots of sex differences in the classroom
and the workplace.

No doubts: Some sex differences exist, and there’s new evidence to prove it. Women are
often better communicators because their brains are more networked for language. The
majority of women are better at “mind-reading,” than most men; they can read the
emotions written on people’s faces more quickly and easily, a talent jump-started by the
vast swaths of neural real estate dedicated to processing emotions in the female brain, and
boosted by jolts of oxytocin at critical moments in their lives. (Amazingly, oxytocin, a
hormone circulating in greater quantities in women, squirted up a man’s nostril boosts his
mind-reading skills, too.)

While women may be more empathetic than men, individual female managers who have
climbed the ladder may not be.

And the thicker corpus callosum connecting women’s two hemispheres provides a swifter
superhighway for processing social messages, such as reading the morale of a group, or
the mood of a colleague. And there are measurable sex differences in empathy, as
President Obama suggested when he nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme
Court. There are more women who are champions at imagining what other people are
thinking and feeling, and more men who struggle mightily with this skill.

But is this profile true of all women, and does it mean women make better managers?
The answer is no, and no.

First, all scientific evidence is based on statistical averages; an individual’s unique


qualities are always blended into the group’s. So, even if men are taller than women, on
average, variation means that there will always be some women who are taller than some

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men. And just as women are more empathic, on average, there are certainly men who are
softer, and better empathizers than some women.

The readers’ complaints about difficult female managers that appear under the interview
with Carol Smith make that clear: aggression is certainly more common among men, but
for many reasons, the women who rise up the ranks may be on the more competitive and
aggressive side — and their subordinates often feel it — especially the women who work
with them.

Competition within each sex is more fierce than it is between the sexes, and one study
shows that women report less stress if the boss is a man.

One reason is that competition within each sex is more fierce than it is between the
sexes, and within-sex tension increases when resources are tight, as they are in this
recession. One study published in 2008 by two sociologists at the University of Toronto,
Scott Schieman and Taralyn McMullen, reinforces that maxim. When the scientists
looked at physical and mental distress among 1,000 American employees working in a
variety of jobs, they found that men worked best with gender-mixed managers: one male,
one female. Women, however, worked best with one male manager — reporting fewer
headaches, backaches anxiety, and difficulties concentrating than they did when they
worked for a woman.

Which shows that Carol Smith is wrong about her blanket statement about women being
better managers. But she’s right about something else. Whether we’re talking about
mentoring, managing or office politics, the research is clear: “Men and women together
are the best.”

A Transformational Style

Gary N. Powell is professor of management in the School of Business of the University of


Connecticut in Storrs. He is working on the fourth edition of “Women and Men in
Management” and is author of “Managing a Diverse Workforce” and editor of
“Handbook of Gender and Work.”

Carol Smith sounds like an excellent manager. Further, her statement that women as a
group are better managers than men as a group is supported by recent research. Female
leaders tend to display a “transformational” leadership style, which has been
demonstrated to contribute to leader effectiveness, more than male leaders do.

Good managers have been seen over three decades as exhibiting more masculine traits
than feminine traits.

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Transformational leadership includes charisma (communicating the purpose and
importance of a mission and serving as a role model), inspirational motivation (exuding
optimism and excitement about the mission’s attainability), intellectual stimulation
(encouraging others to think out of the box), and individualized consideration (focusing
on the development and mentoring of subordinates as individuals).

Ms. Smith is a good example of a transformational leader. When she sits at the middle of
the conference table rather than at its head, arriving after the requisite jokes have been
told, she communicates, “We are all in this together and I am part of it, but let’s not waste
time,” which is the starting point of transformational leadership.

So why aren’t there more women in the corner offices of corporate America? Although
more women than ever before are in the managerial ranks of businesses at all levels,
women continue to face significant disadvantages in the leader role than men do not
face.

First, polls suggest that about twice as many people would rather work for a male boss
than a female boss, although “it doesn’t matter to me” is the slight favorite. Second, in
my research with D. Anthony Butterfield, good managers have been seen over three
decades as exhibiting more masculine traits associated with men, such as autonomy and
independence, than feminine traits associated with women, such as warmth and
sensitivity to the needs of others.

Many people still see an incongruity between the female gender role and the leader role,
which makes it harder for women to attain corner office positions and puts them in an
unwelcome spotlight when they do. In 2006, after PepsiCo announced that Indra Nooyi
would become its new CEO, the headline of the New York Times story was, “A Woman
to Be Chief at PepsiCo.” No headline has ever announced “A Man to Be Chief at Acme
Corp.”

A Female Specialty: Feedback

Sharon Meers is co-author of “Getting to 50/50,” about working couples, and a former
managing director at Goldman Sachs. She and her husband created the Partnership for
Parity at Stanford Business School and the Dual-Career Initiative at Harvard University.

The best thing about female managers? They get you paid more. Women bosses tend to
fight harder for their subordinates, according to negotiation research, getting better raises
for their teams.

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I’ve worked for many great men. But, in my experience, female managers are a special
breed. We won’t know for decades if the differences are due more to nature or nurture
but they are largely good — and stem from the fact that senior women are still outsiders.

Harvard Business School research says star women are more likely than male stars to
remain persistently high performers. Why? Women don’t get the same access to mentors
and networks and have to build muscle that men don’t. Star women have to innovate to
outperform — building stronger client ties, finding outside advisers, seeking
opportunities with results that can be measured objectively.

Women often take an alternative approach to leading teams — encouraging more open
discussion, cultivating talent and sharing credit. Feedback is the place where women
bosses may add the most value.

Straight talk from a boss at Goldman Sachs.

After seven years at Goldman, I got my first female manager — and more straight talk
than in my entire career. She minced no words when I messed up, but she also made it
clear she was on my side: my advocate. That powerful combination — candor and trust
— inspired her team to accept and act on feedback in a way I hadn’t seen before.

In hundreds of interviews of workers and bosses for our book, we repeatedly heard
employees complain about the feedback style of male bosses (everything from
excessively harsh to evasive). Male bosses were no more satisfied: Many are now so
unsure what’s O.K. in the workplace, they fear female workers’ crying or complaints to
HR.

So here’s the real question: How to make the positive qualities we see in female
managers more common in men — and more useful to all? A new report from Catalyst
shows how companies win when we escape the idea that men and women are so
different and work harder to get on the same page — so that men and women bring out
the best in each other sharing the same C-suite.

NEW

You ask the question, “Do Women Make Better Bosses?”

As a sociologist with an advanced degree and many years of experience as a senior


manager of research at several very well known US companies, where I interfaced with
many executives in both my own companies and our client companies (most of which
were Fortune 500 companies or major multinationals), the perspectives advanced by the
various contributors do contain several valid themes.

My experience supports the notion that women managers tend to be better team players
and more collaborative than comparable male managers. The male managers tended to
be more in it for themselves, more aggressively competitive, more competitive with each

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other and more ego-centric. The male managers also seemed to be more taken with the
power and command they had attained and seemed bent on getting more (more power
and more money).

On the other hand, and this brings in a more sociological aspect and perhaps cultural
aspect, the male managers tended to have a deeper and wider network and culture of
support both from peers and from those above them in the companies they were in and
also from outside their companies. The men, unlike the women, consistently benefited
from the essentially seamless career trajectory in the business world, uninterrupted by
pregnancies, child care responsibilities and domestic housekeeping chores which their
male counterparts generally avoided.

Thus even if women were on par or even better managers than comparable men, a
combination of their “careerus interuptus” and the perception by the large cadre of top
male managers that women were less likely to be there continuously, retarded or
undermined the upward mobility of talented female managers.

The observations of the contributors regarding certain positive attributes of female


managers, such as being more patient, more collaborative and better team players, may in
part be due to female managers’ perceptions, often realistic, that no matter what they do
or how hard they work to get ahead, at some point they are going to reach a glass ceiling
or what amounts to corporate friction or resistance that will slow their upward progress.

Evidence supporting my sociological and social psychological perspective is clear. Just


look at the ranks of the top executives of major US corporations, look at the highest paid
executives in almost any field except nursing, social work or other female dominant, low
status, lower pay professions. Just look at the percentage of the Senate and the House
members who are female in relation to their majority of the US population. Just look at
the percentage of women who are generals in the US armed forces, police captains and
above, Justices of the Supreme Court, and in the medical profession, women tend to be
far more highly represented in the lower status and lower paying specialties (either by
choice or by discrimination).

Following are the percentages of female physicians in a number of major medical


categories, from a recent AMA report
(http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/physicianworkforce/female.htm)

General pediatrics (52%), OBGYN (41%), dermatology (37%), pathology (33%),


psychiatry (32%), general & family practice (31%), general internal medicine (31%),
neurology (24%), diagnostic radiology (24%), anesthesiology (22%), emergency
medicine (22%), opthalmology (17%), pulmonary diseases (14%), general surgery
(14%), otolaryngology (11%), gastroenterology (11%), cardiovascular disease (9%).

Source: Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the US, 2006 Edition (AMA, 2006)

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Interestingly and supporting my earlier point at how extra-career life issues tend to alter
female career paths, the same AMA document noted the following:

“Ellsbury et al. (2002) describe reasons why female physicians may be more hesitant to
practice in non-metropolitan areas compared to male physicians. Female physicians
considering practice in a non-metropolitan area typically have greater concern about

1. spousal employment opportunities (58 percent of women compared to 26 percent of


men),
2. flexible hours (66 percent versus 25 percent),
3. availability of child care (33 percent versus 3 percent), and
4. opportunities for part-time employment (38 percent versus 14 percent).

Physicians in non-metropolitan areas work longer hours and work in smaller practices, on
average, compared to physicians in metropolitan areas. These factors possibly have a
greater disincentive effect on female physicians who tend to have greater preferences for
flexibility in hours to bear children and raise families.”

Given the various deflectors and retardants to female upward mobility and career
development, discussions of management style of female executives and other
professionals need to take into account sociological and cultural factors that may
influence how women operate in the corporate and professional worlds.

— LetsBfairUSA

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