Free «Leadership Style Effectiveness» Essay Sample

Leadership effectiveness is determined by several factors ranging from the type of leadership used, gender differences, nature of subjects, the experience of a leader among other factors. There has been a big controversy concerning the impact of gender differences on leadership effectiveness. Researchers and scholars in the field of sociology and psychology have conducted several studies to show the relation between gender differences and effective leadership. However, a firm consensus has not been achieved in this area of study because of the presence of contradicting information on how a male or a female affects ones leadership abilities. Those, in favor of an idea that gender plays a big role in leadership effectiveness, argue that males are more effective leaders in situations, when more authority is required, while females are effective leaders when little authority is required. However, there are those researches and scholars, who believe that being a male or a female does not make one a better leader regardless of the context.

Consequently, the way, men and women lead, has been a hot topic of many researches and discussions for many years. Researchers have tried to explain how each gender leads and whether or not it is effective. They have also tried to show different types of leadership style that women and men use. Other studies have shown the effectiveness of each type of leadership style, and whether or not it is effective, when men or women use it. All these studies are aimed at arriving at a rigid conclusion on whether gender difference has any effect on effective leadership. The most targeted area by researchers is a business sector. The studies have been conducted to determine, whether a gender difference among leaders in business organizations has effects on the management of these organizations. This basically caused by the fact that in order to be a good manager one has to be a good leader. A famous traditional perception that men are better managers than women has made us consider carrying out a study on how gender differences affect leadership effectiveness in business organizations.

It is worth while noting that to understand how women and men lead, we need to understand the basic characteristics of each gender. In his paper, Bem points out that the role of gender has two dimensions: masculinity and femininity. Characteristics of masculinity include being “aggressive, independent, objective, logical, rational, analytical and decisive”. Characteristics of femininity include being “emotional, sensitive, expressive, cooperative, intuitive, warm and tactful” (1974: 159). Most men are masculine and women are feminine. Men do things with more logic and aggression, while women focus more on emotions and intuition. The two roles are opposites of each other. These different characteristics are important factors that influence leadership and decision styles of women and men. It is these decisions made by male and female leaders that determine the course taken by a business organization or any other organization. Therefore, it is possible to determine the effects of gender differences on leadership effectiveness by evaluating a situation in such organizations.

Generally, the relationship between gender and effective leadership has an impact on the way, organizations and other groups are run in our society. The society that believes that men are better leaders than women tends to allocate leadership positions to men. This has made women in to be left behind in terms of running major institutions, thereby hindering women empowerment and gender equality. This trend is common in developing countries, where old-fashioned traditions and cultures have been still followed. In most cases these traditions present men as better leaders than women. There are few countries, where women are believed to be better leaders in domestic-related issues. In such countries women are allocated major leadership positions and men are left to be subjects. However, in developing countries, where there is enough education and old-fashioned traditions are not operational, people believe that all genders are equally effective in terms of leadership, as long as they are equally empowered. In these countries leadership responsibilities are allocated to capable individuals regardless of their gender differences. With these contradicting perceptions about the effect of gender affiliation on leadership effectiveness, the area is indeed a very important field of study in order to improve leadership in our country and particularly in business organizations.

The topic of gender leadership style effectiveness has been immensely studied before, but few has been done through the point of view of subordinates. There are two parties interacting in a work place: employees and employers, so it is very important to learn about what employees think about their bosses’ leadership styles and effectiveness by measuring employee’s satisfaction. The effect of gender differences on modern business organization leaders is also a major controversy, and it is also important to carry out a research into this field. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that a variable gender is included in this study, because it is only a recent phenomenon that women have been becoming more and more active in higher-level leadership positions of companies.

It is also important to come up with a conclusion on a hotly debated issue of whether female leadership styles are different from male leadership styles. Moreover, it is worth to determine whether women are better leaders than men. Therefore, it is interesting to measure whether a female leadership style is different from a conventional male leadership style, and whether the style adopted by female leaders is more effective to deal either with male or female subordinates. This is caused by the fact that some male subordinates prefer female leaders, and on the other hand, there are female subordinates, who prefer male leaders in their work places.

One of the world most affected countries is China, the population of which is the highest in the world. Because of the fact that population is high in China, there are many organizations catering for various human needs and wants. Consequently, there are several leaders that ensure that all these organizations are well-run. The most discoursing thing is that most leaders in China are men, and only few women are allocated leadership responsibilities in such a highly-populated country. However, there have been very few studies done in China regarding gender and leadership style effectiveness, so this study may provide a fundamental insight into this fairly new field of research. There are quite a few problems concerning the working environment of companies in China connected with gender and leadership. It is important to conduct a study in order to determine the impacts of gender differences on Chinese business organization leadership.

It is evident that not all leadership styles are effective in all situations even in other parts of the world. According to sociological researchers of leadership, every situation requires a unique leadership style and it is the responsibility of leaders to determine leadership styles that suit their subjects. However, the major challenge is as much as we admit that different situations require different leadership styles, researchers point out that leadership styles vary from one gender to another and there are situations, when women are fit as leaders, whereas there are other ones, when a male leader is more effective. This is basically caused by gender-related characteristics that make men and women different. This has been a reason for poor relationship between managers and their subordinates, especially in organizations, where gender-related leadership factors are not well-addressed. According to leadership scholars, a poor relationship between subordinates and their bosses is caused by the lack of proper consideration of gender-related factors that affect effective leadership. It is important to carry out a study in order to find the reasons why certain leadership styles do not work and what can be done to improve relationships between subordinates and their bosses (managers).

Lastly, there have no clarification on the type of leadership styles effective for male leaders and those that are well-practiced by their female counterparts. It is important to study how gender differences and leadership styles are used in modern business organizations. The idea is to determine how leadership effectiveness in the modern world is affected by the fact that one is either a male or a male. It is also important to carry out a research into the problem how gender differences and leadership challenges can be overcome to ensure that leadership in modern organizations is effective and equality is observed, while assigning leadership responsibilities. Generally, gender differences and how they affect leadership style effectives are crucial for the study in the Chinese working environment and other parts of the world in order to end an ambiguity related to how gender differences affect leadership style effectiveness.

In order to ensure that all aims of the study are fully achieved by the completion of the research, the study objectives and goals are determined before the commencement of the study. The core purpose of determining the study objective is to ensure that all resources of the study are well-utilized and with only one intention of ensuring that solutions to the problem of the study are achieved. The study objective also makes it easier for users of the study, other than the researcher him/herself, understand the purpose without having to go through the whole study report. In order to ensure that the purpose of the study is clearly defined, the objectives are subdivided into general objectives and specific objectives.

The general/overall objective of the study is to determine the effect of gender differences on leadership style effectiveness. The study is aimed at coming up with a well-researched decision on how gender differences affect leadership style effectives. Therefore, the general idea is to highlight how leadership effectiveness in modern business organizations is affected by gender-related factors and how it can be improved.

Specific objectives

 The following are specific objectives of the study that should be achieved:

  1. To describe gender-related differences, leadership effectiveness and how they are interconnected.
  2. To determine effective leadership in modern business organizations and how it can be achieved in the Chinese business environment.
  3. To expound on various gender differences (characteristics) and various leadership styles in the modern society.
  4. To discover different styles of management of men and women in the Chinese working environment.
  5. To determine how the allocation of leadership positions in Chinese business organizations is affected by gender differences.
  6. To determine employees’ satisfaction with their leaders in a workplace precisely in the Chinese working environment.
  7. To determine leadership effectiveness challenges facing modern leaders, especially in China.
  8. To determine and explain different leadership qualities assigned by subjects/ subordinates in the modern society to their male and female leaders.
  9. The study is aimed aims at determining considerations of a male/female subordinate, when choosing a male or female leader.  
  10. To provide a new insight into different leadership styles of the two genders.
  11. To determine how employers in the modern society, especially in the Chinese business environment, can learn about different leadership styles and use the most effective style in relation to different types of employees.
  12. To determine how effective leadership effectiveness can be promoted in leaders of both genders without interfering with the management and production of business organizations and people’s cultural and religious beliefs.

The above research objective cannot be achieved unless there are well-laid research questions to be used in this study. Research questions serve as forces that will make the researcher address issues related to the goals and objectives of the study. Research questions serves as guidelines for designing questionnaires for data collection. Research questions help the researcher to ensure that only issues related to the study are included in questions in order to avoid the bulkiness of the questionnaire, since that is not only uneconomical, but also discourage respondents. Research questions enable the researcher to determine whether the study is complete, since solutions should be provided to all listed research questions. Research questions are as follows:

  1. What is an effective leadership style and how is it achieved by modern business organizations?
  2. What is the relationship between gender differences and leadership style effectiveness?
  3. What is the major leadership style used in modern business organizations by leaders of both genders?
  4.  What are popular management styles used by leaders of both genders in the Chinese working environment?
  5. How is the allocation of leadership responsibility in the Chinese business organization affected by gender differences?
  6. Are the majority of employees working in the Chinese working environment satisfied with their leaders?
  7. What are core challenges of gender-related leadership effectiveness facing modern business leaders in China?
  8.  What are key leadership qualities that subordinates in China like or dislike in their male and female leaders?
  9.  What are leadership styles used effectively by male and female leaders in modern business organizations, especially in China?
  10. How can business leadership in China be improved in order to meet expectations of different employees?
  11. How does leadership effectiveness promote a business growth and good relationship in Chinese business organizations?
  12. What is a gender-related factor that makes female or male leaders work effectively in some business organizations in China and other parts of the world?

In order to capture all information related to gender differences and leadership style effectiveness, the study involves both quantitative and qualitative research. There is also the literature review of all readily available reviewed literature in this field or related ones. The literature review is made on the basis of text books, academic journals, business magazines and journals, research reports from other researchers and business regulatory bodies, websites and other reviewed internet sources. The idea is to capture all available information on gender differences, leadership style effectiveness and how the fact that a leader is a male or a female affects his/her effectiveness in modern business organizations.

To ensure that the study is complete and realistic, the information obtained during the literature review is compared with the actual study in order to find what exactly is happening in the real business environment. The target population of this study is Chinese companies, whereby the information gathered is used as a representative sample for China and other countries in Asia. Thus, it is possible to determine the relationship between gender and leadership effectiveness. In order to carry out the actual study, company employees from several Chinese companies are asked to be involved in the study by answering questionnaires and interviews. An even number of male and female employees is asked to fill out employee satisfaction surveys with questions that may possibly reveal their likes and dislikes for different leadership styles of their bosses. Several companies are selected because a sample requires responses from employees, who have both female and male bosses. Quantitative and qualitative analysis is used to achieve results. It is important to obtain quantitative analysis because it is hard to measure a lot of responses from a large number of people. Qualitative analysis is also important, because it is more in-depth and likely to elicit answers that are more specific and have higher validity. ­­

The study employs a sample of five to six Chinese companies, each with about 50 to 100 employees. The total number of participants is estimated from 250 to 400. A questionnaire has been designed to measure employees’ satisfaction with their current male or female bosses. The questionnaire includes basic demographics, especially the gender of employees. The questionnaire has been designed in a rating style. For example, a sample question may be “your boss does a good job in discussing company rules or regulations with you”, and a respondent will be asked to provide a rating of 1 to 5 for each question. Questions are coded and analyzed for patterns of preferences for certain leadership styles of both female and male bosses. Responses are also separated into piles of female and male respondents, and each pile is analyzed separately to see differences or similarities in responses.

In addition, in-depth interviews of about 20 subjects have been done. This is needed for a qualitative part of the study to provide more concrete and specific responses. In-depth interviews involve questions that ask subjects to provide more detailed answers on their work experience with their bosses. For example, they may be asked about memories concerning their bosses that they found most comfortable. The analysis is based on responses for likes and dislikes of their bosses. In-depth interviews also include half a number of female subjects and half a number of male subjects to keep the consistency of the variable of gender in this research.

When the collection of data has been completed, sorting and analyzing data was done in order to facilitate interpretation. The interpretation is done in relation to the information collected in the literature review part. The findings of the study should show some similarity with the information obtained in the literature review in order to be realistic. After they have been compiled, a report was written on the findings of the study with tables and charts showing how participants responded during the study. Conclusions have been made on how gender differences affect leadership style effectiveness. This will be followed by recommendations concerning necessary changes to be made to improve organization leadership and recommendations for further studies.

The study is of great importance not only for academic excellence, but also for those people, who may directly or indirectly be affected by the findings of the study. Some groups that may benefit from this study include other students taking courses in gender and leadership, scholars and researchers, employees and employers of modern businesses, especially in China, gender activists and the general public. First of all, this study enables us to expand knowledge in leadership effectiveness, especially on how gender differences affect leadership effectiveness. This research gives an opportunity to explore effects of gender differences on leadership. The analysis of all available literature has enabled us to widen knowledge and skills on leadership and on how being a male or female affects ones leadership effectiveness. Participating in the actual study gives an opportunity to relate whatever covered in the literature review with the actual business environment. Generally, this study expands information on leadership style effectiveness and how it is affected by gender differences.

To scholars and researchers, this study provides rich material that can be used in other related studies. The information obtained can be used by researchers to develop, expand and reference their hypothesis during their studies. It also provides recommendations for further studies and these can be used by scholars and researchers as potential fields of study. Generally, the study serves as an opener to more areas of the study that can be used by researchers and scholars to expand their knowledge. Another group that can benefit from the findings of this study is students. Students studying gender and leadership effectiveness can use findings of this study as a source of knowledge. The paper is written in an easily understandable language both for students of gender and leadership courses and even those of unrelated courses can read and understand. The paper can serve as an introductory resource material to students taking courses related to gender and organizational leadership.

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The third category of people, for whome this study can be of great importance, is the existing leaders and their subjects (employees and their employers and the general public). To the existing organizational leaders, this study can be a useful source of important knowledge on how effective organizational leadership can be achieved by leaders of both genders. Organizational leaders, especially those who have not undertaken any leadership course, can use this study to acquire skills and knowledge to improve leadership in their organizations. Moreover, organizational leaders can use the findings of this study to understand causes of gender-related leadership challenges in modern business organizations and to develop solutions to avoid more gender-related leadership challenges. Employees can also use the findings of this study, as an eye opener, to understand their leaders and whether they are fairly led or not. Lastly, this study is also very important to the general public. Any individual interested in understanding, how gender differences affect leadership style effectiveness, can use this study to expand this knowledge. Therefore, it is evident that this study is important for a wide category of people and worth to be carried out.

Limitations and delimitations of the study

This study is also faced with several challenges. These challenges are basically caused the nature of the study and the scope that makes it more subjected to limitations. The most obvious limitation of using a questionnaire as a part of the data collection method is that it may not provide specific answers. It may be difficult to examine an issue thoroughly on the basis of the ratings from a questionnaire. The ratings cannot fully express views and opinions of a respondent regarding the questions asked, so responses from a questionnaire can only be used as a trend spotter, but not to be analyzed in-depth. Another limitation is that without incentives or someone monitoring answers, a respondent may not answer truthfully, therefore, data may not be analyzed accurately. It is also likely that the meaning of a question may be interpreted differently by the researcher and the respondent, thus, the language bias must be reduced to minimum.

For interviews, the biggest limitation may be that respondents don’t feel comfortable answering personal questions regarding their bosses in front of a stranger. When they don’t feel comfortable, they can lie and not reveal their true feelings. Therefore, it is better to conduct phone or email interviews in a manner, when face-to-face interaction can be avoided. Generally, the research cannot possibly provide a completely accurate depiction of employee’s preferences for leadership styles of their female or male bosses, but it provides a general picture of trends that can be seen through the analysis of questionnaire responses and interviews. Also, there is a chance that participants’ answers are skewed, because a sample may not be large enough, therefore, the research outcome can result in a bias.

However, in order to ensure that the study is reliable and most challenges have been overcome, the plot study has been conducted before the actual study. The plot study showed that limiting factors can be overcome with proper planning, and the study has realistic findings. Therefore, there was thorough planning before the commencement of the whole study to ensure that all necessary resources are present and there was no probable factors that could stop or hinder the success of the study. All participants have been provided with an explanation, why this study is carried out in order to eliminate fear. It encouraged them to participate in responding to the questions. The data collection process was monitored to ensure that cases of biasness on the part of participants were eliminated or minimized.

Because this study involves researchers being in contact with human subjects, many ethical problems arise. First, this study refers to a fairly sensitive issue of employer-employee relations, thus, it is crucial that questionnaires are to be kept anonymous. The study is only interested in the gender of employees and employers, so their names are not necessary. We let participants know that none of their answers will be disclosed to other employees or their bosses and will only be used for the research. It is important that each subject signs a release form before answering a questionnaire or participating in an interview. Therefore, they understand that their responses will be used open, but anonymously, in the research and that we have their full permission to do so. Participants are also allowed to leave blank any questions that they do not wish to answer or withdraw from the research at any time, if it has made them feel uncomfortable.

The sensitivity of questions is also reduced to a minimum. The questions asked should also be eliminated of all biases and personal opinions of the researcher. It is important not to make subjects feel uncomfortable answering any questions. Especially for an interview, the researcher should act neutral and not express any subjective opinions or biases in regard to responses. If necessary, interviews can be done through phone calls or e-mails, if subjects do not feel comfortable expressing themselves in front of the researcher. During an interview subjects do not have to answer every question, if it has made them feel uncomfortable. Lastly, it is made clear to subjects that the data collected during the study will not directly or indirectly affect their work and it will only be used for academic purposes.

This chapter highlights areas to be covered by the researcher. It includes past studies related to the study. Information from reference books, journals, online databases, academic journals and business magazines is also included in this chapter. There is also the justification of the study, and a conceptual and operational framework. The information obtained from literature review presents a clear picture of what to be expected in the actual study during the primary data collection and analysis. Therefore, the review ensures that past findings on the same area are put into consideration and exclude cases of biasness and conflicting information during the study. Moreover, the information obtained from this literature review has helped to determine proper data collection methods and how to carry out analysis and presentation of findings after the study.

The literature review serves as a very important point in every study. First of all, it equips a researcher with necessary information about the area of study before conducting the actual study. A researcher uses the information obtained during the study to develop research questions and research objectives that serve as guidelines for the actual study. It also eliminates incidences of biasness during the study, because findings of the actual study should reflect the information obtained during the study. The information obtained from the literature review also gives a researcher enough exposure in the area of study and enough knowledge that can be used during the collection and analysis of information in the actual study. The information collected during the literature review also helps to analyze findings of the actual study. A researcher uses findings of the literature review to compare his/her actual findings before developing a research report, thereby avoiding cases of biasness and other errors that could make the research invalid.

There are other groups that may use findings of this study, other than researchers. These include management students and employee motivation students, and other groups, such as managers, communication professions and employees in modern organizations. The findings of this study may be of no importance to these groups, if not backed with available literature from other researchers. Therefore, other parties that may use them can use the literature review to capture more information on communication and workforce motivation before to increase their understanding of the actual findings of the study. Lastly, the literature review increases the validity of the study. The availability of information got from other scholars and researchers makes the study more factual and applicable in real life situations. Generally, the literature review chapter makes the study realistic by providing references to the information obtained in the actual study.

Women and men use different leadership styles. Park has cited Rowe and Mason in his paper that there are four main decision styles: directive, analytical, conceptual and behavioral” (Cited by Park 1996: 13). Rowe and Mason state that a directive style is “practical, authoritarian, impersonal and power-oriented”, an analytical style is “intellectual, impersonal and control-oriented”, a conceptual style is “insightful, enthusiastic, personal, adaptive and flexible”, and a behavioral style is “sociable, friendly and supportive.” Rowe and Mason also say that a task-oriented leadership style is more directive and analytical, while a relationship-oriented leadership style is more conceptual and behavioral. Park tested Rowe and Mason’s four decision styles with gender. Park’s hypothesis is that men are more task-oriented, therefore, more direct and analytical and women are more relationship-oriented, therefore, more conceptual and behavioral. (1996:14) Park’s findings fully supported his hypothesis that there is a close relationship between gender and decision style.

Eagly and Schmidt also found two attributes for leadership: agentic and communal. (2001: 789) Agentic leadership characteristics include being assertive, controlling, ambitious, dominant and competitive. At work, people with agentic characteristics may speak more assertively, compete for attention or influence others. Communal leadership characteristics include being affectionate, helpful, kind, sensitive and gentle. People with communal characteristics may speak more tentatively, not draw attention to oneself, accept others’ direction and support others. (2001: 790) Agentic leaders are more dominant and distant, while communal leaders are more kind and interpersonal. Male leaders at work are more agentic, and female ones leaders have more communal characteristics (Maher, 1997).

Eagly and Schmidt have also said that there are two methods of leadership. One is task-oriented and another is interpersonally-oriented. They described task-oriented leaders, who are focused on completing tasks and organize activities related to accomplishing assignments. They want subordinates to follow their rules and lead and to show subordinates that they are leaders. They also want to focus on having and maintaining high standards for performance. Interpersonally-oriented leaders are described as those who like to maintain personal relationships with their subordinates (Kolb, 1997). They care more about others’ morale and welfare. Interpersonally-oriented leaders are more caring about helping their subordinates, caring about their personal needs, being friendly, etc. They are more patient and nurturing as a leader. Authors think that male leaders are more task-oriented and female leaders are more interpersonally-oriented. Male leaders in the working environment are more focused on finishing jobs and achieving good results, but female leaders at work care more about their personal relationships with their subordinates. 

Other researchers also tested other theories on the relationship between gender and leadership style. Cooper did a research in the UK, where he found that men like using punishments and women like rewards, when managing. He also suggested that because women have to maintain a lot of relationships at home, they will likely bring that skill to a workplace and apply it to their subordinates (1992: 271). Women like using rewards because when they reward children at home, children will behave properly, and punishing children will not work in the same way as rewarding them.

Griggs wrote a list of characteristics that people consider being feminine, thus, that it is easier to distinguish male and female styles of management. (1989) She said that women like making decisions in a group; they think power should not be authoritative, but rather shared among many people, they like encouraging people to productively approach conflicts, and they enjoy diversity in the working environment. Her research shows that female leaders like being in comfortable and less “boss-centered” working environments. They can more easily get adapted to less aggressive and serious workplaces (Kolb, 1997).

Bass and Stogdill also noticed gender differences in a leadership style. (1991: 151) They said that women do not like practicing “management-by-exception”, meaning women do not like interfering with subordinates’ actions, and only interfere when something is wrong. They say that women are more likely to provide positive feedbacks, when they want to criticize someone. Women are more likely to use less assertive management styles. They do not like direct confrontation, and they make things work by nicely explaining a problem. This is because women are expected to be feminine, and subordinates will be more likely to accept a feminine leader rather than a masculine one.

Contradicting researchers’ results that men are less controlling leaders than women, Envick has found that the controlling trait, which is the most often perceived as a masculine trait, is actually more common among female leaders. (1998: 106) She has found that because women actually have more desire to control others, they show that trait at work. Her research also showed that there were more women leaders in the internal communication and human resources departments.

According to Roach& and Behling (1984), leadership is the process of coordinating an organized group of people in order to enable it to achieve its goals and objectives. The concept of leadership is not a new one. In every business organization, issues of leadership are regularly addressed. However, the most unfortunate thing is that in most organizations leadership effectiveness is discussed using male role models and other leaders that have been there in the past. This trend has hindered the development of potential female leaders, since the majority of people still believe that male leaders are much effective than female ones (Hughes & Curphy, 1993). Therefore, this paper tries to expound in this concept in order to determine the relationship between effective leadership and gender differences.

Being an effective leader, according to the traditional understanding, involves the utilization of the following traits, such as being self-reliant, a risk-taker, self-sufficient, assertive and ambitious. What is not clear is the role of gender. However, in both traditional and contemporary settings, an effective leader can be defined as a person, who encourages another person or a group of people to carry out a duty or an obligation that they could not have completed effectively without the assistance of a leader. This could be in any area, such as sports, learning institutions and business organizations. For instance, in a business setting, every employee with certain skills is allocated certain responsibilities. However, employees from different departments must be well-coordinated in order to ensure that all employees are dedicated their efforts to achieving goals and objectives of the company. A leader in a business organization can be a manager, a team leader or a supervisor. However, it is worth while noting that there are no specifications that business leaders in certain departments should be either males or females. It is correct to argue that leadership effectiveness is not gender-specific but at the same time admit that there are several attributes found in both males and females that enable them to become effective leaders.

What is leadership? There are several definitions for the word “leadership”, which vary from one situation to another. However, all definitions have two things in common, which are leaders and subordinates or subjects. Some common definitions of the word “leadership” is the ability to creatively and in a directive manner boost morale of an individual or a group of people (Munson, 1921). According to Bennis (1959), leadership is the process, through which an agent, known as a leader, makes subordinates behave in a particular manner. Fiedler (1969) defines leadership as the process of directing and coordinating the work of group members in an organization. He also defined leadership as interpersonal relations, in which subjects comply with decisions of their leaders, because they want or they have no choice. Merton (1969) defines leadership as an act of changes, establishing goals and objectives, that are supposed to be attained and making subjects understand how they can achieve these goals and objectives. Leadership is also defined as the process of focusing resources to create desirable opportunities (Campbell, 1991). It is very clear from the above definitions that there is no relationship between leadership and gender, in terms of its definition.

 All the above definitions prove that leadership is not gender-specific. An un-clear issue is how different leaders, male and female, use different leadership styles to ensure effectiveness. According to the studies carried by modern scholars, it is evident that leadership is gender-neutral and this is confirmed by the existence of women and men doing well in a myriad of leadership positions, especially in business environments. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to establish the relationship between leadership style effectiveness in different genders, since it is evident that both genders are doing well in leadership positions worldwide.

Gender perspectives on leadership

Leadership has been believed to be a masculine activity, according to the traditional concept on leadership. Kolb has observed in her article that there is no way women can become effective leaders in their organizations, it is important for the society to look at women as individuals, who possess an ability to motivate and influence others (Hughes & Curphy, 1993). The research carried out back in the 1970s showed that there was a lot of biasness regarding women’s achievements in the business sector. The common saying that ‘in every successful man there is a woman behind’ could be used to show how the society of the 19th century was convinced that women could not achieve much on their own unless under the leadership of a man. According to Shimanoff and Jenkins (1991), there are more similarities than differences in leadership styles and behaviors of women and men as leaders. According to their study, male and female leaders are equally effective and have equal opportunities and empowerment.

According to various studies carried out to determine how people view themselves,, it is evident that in leadership masculine and feminine characteristics are beyond biological sex. It is an initiative of a leader either to portray him/herself as a masculine or feminine one. The study shows that women holding high organizational positions show more masculinity characteristics than their male counterparts do. Moreover, there is no biological sex difference in individual or group views of leadership. Both male and female subordinates like or dislike their leaders on the basis of their performance and not on a gender basis. However, it is worth while noting that male leaders are normally self-reported higher on the scale of leadership (Gardner, 1990).

The studies also reveal that masculinity is the strongest predictor of self-reported leader emergence. Feminine traits are less-revealed and they do not contribute much to women thinking themselves as leaders. It is only female leaders, who possess strong masculine attributes, considering themselves as leaders frequently (Kolb, 1997). It is evident that most women holding leadership positions have less or no confidence to claim openly themselves as leaders. It requires female leaders to posses some masculine traits to openly proclaim herself as a leader. However, men are freer, when it comes to declaring their leadership positions. This finding is important in this study, since in many situations those people, who talk much, are deemed to be better leaders (Wachs, 1998).

According to Bergen Evans (1954), in many situations there is no direct connection between the desire to become a leader and the ability to lead. He adds that in most situations leadership positions are taken by aggressive members of the society, mostly men, and not those with the ability to lead. Bergen points out that, in most situations, it is those, who have to scramble for only few available leadership positions, which can occupy available leadership positions. These few individuals are only motivated by their inner distresses than by any demand for the guidance by their subordinates. There are several theories on leadership that try to explain the relationship between leadership effectiveness and gender differences. Consequently, theories addressed here include the contingency theory, the normative decision model and the situation leadership theory.

This model explains what is supposed to happen in the decision-making environment to ensure that there is effective leadership. The model explains what is ought to happen rather than what does not happen. According to this model, leaders can improve the performance of their subjects by ensuring that they involve them in their decision-making processes (Hughes & Curphy, 1993). It is an impact that decisions made by leaders have on their subjects that determines the extent, to which subjects are to be involved. If a decision has severe impacts on subjects, they need to be involved in decision making to keep from rejecting these decisions. However, minor decisions that have less effects on subjects can be made comfortably without involving subordinates. The most important concept of this model is that decision making by a leader is gender-neutral. The model is applied to leaders of both genders. However, it is worth while noting that being a good decision maker does not qualify one to be an effective leader, but the most important thing is that the normative model of leadership does not mention gender as an ingredient of effective leadership. Therefore, according to this theory gender differences have no effects on leadership style effectiveness (Maher, 1997).

The situational leadership theory (SLT) is basically concerned with the type of subjects being led. According to this theory, there are two types of approaches used to determine effective leadership, namely task behavior and relationship behavior. The task behavior leadership approach is more direct and those leaders, who use this approach, tend to dictate responsibilities of their subordinates. On the other hand, the relationship behavior approach is more concerned with how the maturity level of an individual, both psychological and job maturity, is related to the type of leadership style that will be the most effective in different environments. Although this theory goes deeper into characteristics of subordinates, when compared to the normative decision model, it does not establish any relationship between gender differences and leadership effectiveness (Maher, 1997).

The Contingency Model

The contingency model of leaders differs from both the situational leadership theory and the normative decision theory. The theory points out that leadership effectiveness is determined by the ability to choose an appropriate leader for a certain situation or to change a situation, so that it can match with an available leadership style (Hughes & Curphy, 1993). This theory takes into consideration a leader’s style and the situation, in which a leader finds him/herself. The theory is more concerned with characteristics of a leader and not those of subordinates. According to this theory, leaders establish their personalities during their early period of leadership and with time, they gather enough experience to determine the most appropriate style of leadership. Similarly, the contingency model of effective leadership does not relate leadership effectiveness with gender differences. Unlike other leadership models, the contingency model is more advantageous to subordinates, since it ensures that the leader given a responsibility is indeed compatible for that job. However, it is worthwhile noting that the contingency model is also gender-neutral and does not relate leadership effectiveness to gender differences (Maher, 1997).

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership, whereby a leader involves his/her subordinates to raise the level of motivation and morale in a group or an organization for the good of all (Hughes & Curphy, 1993). On the other hand, transactional leadership is a leadership style, whereby leaders focus on the exchange of information between them and their subordinates to determine how the current needs of subordinates can be achieved. In general, transformational leadership is aimed at benefiting both parties in a group, leaders and their subordinates, while transactional leadership is aimed at fulfilling the needs of subordinates. According to the study conducted in the early 1990s, females are more inclined to be transformational leaders than male leaders (Wachs, 1998). The study was carried out on both male and females subordinates, and the conclusion was that there were gender differences in leadership styles used by men and women. However, the study did not confirm whether gender differences made these leaders more effective or not.

According to the investigation carried out on gender differences in transformational and transactional leadership and gender-related stereotypes, stereotypes are one of the major reasons for gender differences found in transformational and transactional leadership. According to some early studies conducted by Eagly and Johnson in 1990, women were found to lead in a more interpersonally oriented style, whereas men were found to lead in a more task-oriented style. Eagly and Johnson also pointed out that women leaders were more democratic than men ones, who in most cases were autocratic or dictatorial to their subordinates. However, it is worthwhile noting that leadership in the 21st century takes a new dimension, and leaders have to lead to satisfy the needs of their subjects and not their own (Kolb, 1997).

According to the study conducted by Drusakt on religious leadership in 1994, female subordinates ranked female leaders as more transformational, than male leaders in religious professional leaders ranked by male subordinates. Drusakt also pointed out that transformational leadership is a feminine leadership style, and it is mostly found in organizations run by women. Consequently, Drusakt has concluded that women are better leaders, since most organizations call for transformational leaders and this is the most accepted form of leadership in the 21st century. However, there is a contradiction on how gender affects transformational or transactional leadership. Subordinates in some organizations may have some expectations for appropriate leaders, and these expectations could have been exhibited by women depending on the context being addressed (Gardner, 1990).

Several researches have been conducted into the problem of leadership to determine why women are not looked at positively in leadership positions. When other factors are held constant, gender is the only variable, which, as many researchers believe, has made women appear as ineffective leaders. Historical books show that since the civilization of man, women have been taken as a weaker sex and males have been leaders all through. This ranged from domestic circles to community affairs that involved settling disputes, maintaining peace and even making core decisions. Women have been following decisions made by their male counterparts in all areas and this has made them believe that they cannot become good leaders. According to the study conducted by Eagly, Makkhijani and Klonsky in 1992, female leaders are evaluated as poor leaders than their male counterparts. It has been found out that male subordinates devalue female leaders more than female subordinates do to male leaders (Maher, 1997).          

In 1999 another study was conducted by Russell, Rush and Herd, whereby women were asked to mention characteristics they associated with effective male and female leadership styles. The results indicated that over 80% of those women, who participated in the study, rated female leaders higher than male ones in terms of effective leadership. This study clearly showed that women rated their own self higher than they did to men, whom they termed as their opponents in leadership. Therefore, it is evident that there are stereotypes concerning male and female leadership, and every group seems to consider itself as the one that exhibits excellent leadership styles. Heilman et al., 1989 points out that women are the most stereotyped group in terms of leadership effectiveness. Since women are perceived to be poor leaders in many parts of the country, promotions and other leadership opportunities are normally allocated to men. Although tremendous changes were made in the 21st century pertaining women leadership abilities, it is evident that there are several obstacles that women need to overcome to be perceived as effective leaders similar to their male counterparts (Hughes & Curphy, 1993).

In such countries as China, men are culturally considered as leaders of the society, and women are expected to follow directives given by men. This perception is not only common in family leadership, but also in business organizations. Women are perceived as weaker, and incapable of doing some sensitive duties in the society. However, with changes experienced in the last years of the 20th century in leadership, scholars and researchers have come up with core characteristics possessed by effective leaders and try to determine how they are affected by gender differences (Hughes & Curphy, 1993).

One of the basic effective leadership characteristics is intelligence. It is of paramount importance for leaders to think ahead and never wait to be told what to do as much as they may want to practice democracy. This means that effective leaders should be effective thinkers and leaders should be always effective in all issues that require the use of mind. According to the study conducted by Cronbach in 1984, it is evident that a strong correlation exists between effective leadership and intelligence. The studies also showed that the majority of the world’s famous leaders were people of great intelligence. However, critiques pointed out that too much intelligence can hinder leadership effectiveness in some contexts because of communication barriers. This concept is based on the fact that people with different levels of intelligence find it difficult to communicate with their colleagues, since intelligent people normally manipulate the less intelligent ones (Gardner, 1990). There are cases of leaders, who were not very smart, but their leadership was effective.

Intelligence enables leaders to make reliable decisions on behalf of their subordinates. It also empowers leaders to manage stress associated with leader-subordinate interactions. According to the study conducted by Gibson in 1992, intelligent leaders are less affected by stress than less intelligent ones. This is because they have an ability to manage any incidences that might be stressing to their responsibilities. Moreover, a leader with brilliant ideas, but without intelligence, is a dangerous one, since he or she lacks the power to make correct judgments, which are crucial to every leader. It is crystal clear that leadership effectiveness and intelligence are correlated, but there is no incidence, when it is linked with gender differences (Wachs, 1998).

Another important characteristic of an effective leader is an attitude. Two components of effective leadership determine how effective a leader is. These components are an effective component and a behavioral component. The effective component refers to how a person feels about doing something, while the behavioral component refers to how a person acts or behaves in relation to his/her feelings about something or somebody. The two components are interconnected with the effective component affecting the behavioral component. According to the management theories X and Y, leadership is affected by attitudes of leaders towards subordinates, since they determine, which style to use. According to the theory X, those leaders, who view their subordinates in a pessimistic manner, normally treat them in a coercive and manipulative way, since they assume that subordinates are uncooperative, lazy and do not like taking responsibilities. On the other hand, the theory Y accepts that subordinates are responsible people, who can work under less or no supervision. Managers and leaders, who use this theory, view their subordinates with optimism, and they normally treat them well and with patience and understanding. However, as much as the above theories try to explain the relationship between an effective leadership style and leaders’ views of the world and general attitudes towards people they lead, there is no incident, where gender has any effect on attitudes or leadership effectiveness (Maher, 1997).

Credibility is another factor that is very important for effective leadership. When addressing the issue of credibility, it is important to consider subordinates’ point of view and manager’s or superior’s point of view. Subordinates look for leaders, who are credible enough to make unbiased decisions. The term credible means that leaders should be competent, have vision, be able to offer inspiration to their subordinates and be honest all the time. According to the research conducted into a group of subordinates from China, honesty is the most important factor as far as credibility is concerned. This is the most essential aspect of successful leaders. It is important for leaders to win trust of their subordinates, if they are not honest (Gardner, 1990). However, it is important to note that there is n


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