Action Wheel Leadership
Discussions of gender and leadership raise questions about whether styles of leadership differ by gender.
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When dealing with issues of leadership, the most important thing to remember is that studies deal in generalizations.
There is no one true female style of leadership, just as there is no one true male style of leadership. There are only averages and tendencies.
That being said, within those generalizations of gender and leadership there are patterns, and those patterns are as follows:
Female Style: Collaborative and Creative
Female leaders often lean towards a more democratic or participative leadership style.
Women are more likely to reward their employees for good performance, which increases employee investment in the organization and higher morale.
They also tend to focus on team building, fostering innovation, and creating a productive group dynamic. Because of this, women more often succeed as leaders in environments where creativity and collaboration are valued.
Male Style: Competitive and Autocratic
On the other hand, male leaders are often more authoritarian and autocratic in their leadership roles. Men are more likely to manage with a hands-off approach, telling their workers exactly how they would like a job to be done. Thereafter they only interact with employees when asked to, or when criticism or correction are needed. These environments tend to produce a more competitive atmosphere. Therefore, men more often excel where the structure of an organization is more hierarchical.
Disadvantages of the Democratic Leadership Style
Of course, issues of gender and leadership are not nearly so cut and dried. While one may initially seem more beneficial than the other, both leadership styles come with their own advantages and concerns. In a poorly trained or non-motivated group, the democratic style of leadership will almost certainly fail. Employees must be engaged and involved and have a desire to collaborate successfully. However, if workers feel their contributions aren't being heard or considered, their morale can plummet. The democratic process also takes time and resources, which can be costly.
Disadvantages of the Autocratic Leadership Style
Employees under a hands-off leader can feel they have more freedom and autonomy in their work, since their manager tends to give help only when asked. Autocratic leaders centralize authority and make unilateral decisions, which save time, and these traits are necessary in situations where a leader is in any way responsible for an employees' health and/or safety.
Benefits of Working Together
At first glance, these differing leadership styles may not appear to intersect; however, when examined more closely, there are several places for these styles to complement one another and overlap. Flexibility and the ability to negotiate are undoubtedly necessary tools in today's workforce, but so are focus and the direct achievement of goals. As more and more females rise to leadership roles, men and women are learning from one another how to better motivate, empower, and interact with their employees, as well as how to better guide and apply their workers to meet targets and exceed goals.
These days, the truth is that any truly successful leader will employ as many techniques in their managerial arsenal as it takes to get the job done, regardless of where those techniques may fall on the spectrum of gender and leadership.