Until recently, women were rarely seen in senior leadership positions as these positions have predominantly been held by men and men were therefore stereotyped to be more effective leaders. Research has examined whether or not there are sex differences in leadership. Linking gender with leadership makes us clear that it is, first and foremost, necessary to gain a more rounded approach to each leadership style strengths as well as areas for improvement.
Key Characteristics of female leaders
- Communicate openly
Women leaders emphasize teamwork and authentic communication as the keys to success; they communicate openly, visiting their team members, inspiring them, offering guidance as well as encouragement aiming to transform them into professionals.
- People oriented
This form of leadership requires a high level of participation and communication with staff members. Instinctively, females are natural givers; they care more about their team members’ well-being than males do, and they are not afraid of engaging with them in a personal level. Let alone - as women use to be more emotional intelligent than men - they feel the need to share their feelings. In particular, at workplace female leaders ask how you’re feeling about a project while men, instead, ask for a progress update.
- Focus on details
Females are masters in paying attention to details; absorbing information in an uncanny way than men don’t. This means that they have a strong ability to track, assess and manage change.
Besides, study shows that men are slower and less organized than women, mainly when switching quickly between tasks. Men use to be affected by interference when carrying out certain tasks. Women hormones play a major part in this discrepancy.
Key Characteristics of male leaders
It is widely known that men leaders are dominant figures; they make decisions without consulting their team. They sit in their offices, give orders, have expectations which are strict enough and always avoid engaging with employees on a personal level. Besides, men naturally fear being emotionally vulnerable.
- Task oriented
Male leaders place emphasis on getting the job done. This form of leadership is not focusing on wellbeing of staff members, but on performance goals and deadlines. This leadership style can be beneficial, at times, since it requires clearly defined goals and procedures.
Men can be considered as “autocratic leaders”, they are direct and make decisions quickly. Although this leadership style shows self-confidence – the key to be a successful leader - sometimes it leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover.
- Result Driven
Naturally competitive, men are always to the point, are less interested in the details and – as mentioned above - tuned to provide solutions. In other words, they rush to get to the top!
“The leadership model is evolving, in an even faster pace (as everything in our society today) and this is also something to consider when selecting the next leaders for our organizations.” commented Despina P. Theodosiou, President of WISTA International, at SAFETY4SEA Career Column
Both male and female emerging leaders have different leadership styles. To ensure there is adequate diversity of thought within leadership teams, organizations should:
- Encourage more women to take up leadership roles; men are more likely to make themselves known without assistance
- Ask males to learn and adapt to a more female mode of leadership and bring to their work life all the benefits of a more balanced approach
- Use tools to assess leadership strengths and weaknesses in order to improve their leadership skills and guide their ongoing personal and professional development
All in all, male and female brains are structured differently, and this diversity can be beneficial in the workplace. There are, therefore, ways to combine the two leadership styles ang get advantage of them