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Leading While Dancing Backwards: What’s Really Different about Female and Male Leadership Styles? Joyce Osland, Ph.D. San Jose State University Women’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Leading While Dancing Backwards: What’s Really Different about Female and Male Leadership Styles? Joyce Osland, Ph.D. San Jose State University Women’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Leading While Dancing Backwards: What’s Really Different about Female and Male Leadership Styles? Joyce Osland, Ph.D. San Jose State University Women’s Center for Applied Leadership

2 “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did – she just did it in high heels dancing backwards” Ann Richards Democratic National Convention, 1988

3 Have you observed any differences between female and male leaders? If yes, what are the differences?

4 PERCEIVED GENDER DIFFERENCES IN CENTRAL AMERICAN MANAGERS Women described themselves as Participative Understanding Communicative Flexible More likely to use positive motivation Concerned for staff Women described male colleagues as Autocratic Impersonal Cold Abrupt Inaccessible

5 EVIDENCE FOR “NO DIFFERENCE” Study of 13,600 leaders in various countries found similarities between senior male and female managers far outweigh the differences. Age, length of time in the organization, positive attitude, outward looking = key variables in leader effectiveness Female styles as varied as male styles

6 EVIDENCE FOR “NO DIFFERENCE” “A host of nonlaboratory studies focusing on men and women leaders in comparable positions and engaged in similar activities failed to identify differences between the sexes in leader effectiveness, motivation, personality, or leadership styles.”

7 Once given a leadership role and legitimized by their organization, women and men do not act very differently. Women tend to be more democratic. BUT

8 When women find themselves in situations requiring a more autocratic style, they tend to adapt their style accordingly. IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT

9 MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES Female and male leadership styles do not differ in male-dominated industries In female-dominated industries women are more interpersonally oriented than men Women using an interpersonally oriented leadership style in male-dominated industries report significantly worse mental health

10 WOMEN LEADERS ARE DIFFERENT Share power and information Enhance the self-worth of followers Use interactive skills more frequently Place greater emphasis on maintaining effective working relationships at work

11 …WOMEN LEADERS ARE DIFFERENT Value cooperation and being responsible to others More inclusive in addressing concerns More likely to entrust others to help them achieve their goals

12 Influencing Tactics TypeTool Rational persuasion Inspirational appeals Consultation Ingratiation Personal appeals Exchange Coalition Tactics Legitimating tactics Pressure Logical arguments and facts target’s values, ideals, and aspirations inclusion of target in planning praise, flattery, friendly, helpful behavior target’s loyalty and friendship reciprocated favors seek aids of others claim authority or right, point to policy, tradition demands, threats, frequent checking

13 TO INFLUENCE OTHERS, WOMEN TEND TO RELY ON Inclusion Charisma Expertise Contact Interpersonal skills

14 TO INFLUENCE OTHERS, MEN TEND TO RELY ON The formal authority found in their position A command-and-control style

15 FEMALE INFLUENCE STYLE No difference from male style Less assertive with superiors More likely to appeal to altruism More likely to use rational persuasion Less likely to threaten punishment VS.

16 THE USE OF POWER WOMEN vs. MEN View power as a resource to influence job outcomes and focus employee competencies More consensus oriented View power as an end in itself Power used for control and to win over others in authority

17 At senior levels, there is no difference in the way women and men exercise power.

18 HOW TO GET AHEAD Women are more likely to assume that hard work will result in promotion whereas men tend to believe that political contacts within the organization are essential to their advancement.

19 THE RESEARCH BOTTOM LINE Beliefs and attitudes about women in leadership roles have gradually begun to change Despite enduring stereotypes, few behavioral differences are consistently documented Less gender difference at senior levels?

20 LEADER EFFECTIVENESS Slight tendency to evaluate females more negatively than males, particularly women using masculine leadership styles “Men have greater freedom than women to lead in a range of styles without encountering negative reactions”

21 …LEADER EFFECTIVENESS Meta-analysis showed male and female leaders equally effective Both men and women more effective in leadership roles congruent with their gender Being “out of role” in gender terms can cause real or perceived decline in leader effectiveness

22 WHERE DO DIFFERENCES COME FROM? Early socialization practices Girls expected to demonstrate care and consideration Boys expected to compete and perform Gender role expectationsDifferential evaluation Status influences

23 STATUS CHARACTERISTICS THEORY People with higher status Receive more opportunities to make contributions to the group task Receive higher evaluations for their contributions Exert greater influence over the behaviors and opinions of others in the group Are more likely to emerge as group leaders

24 STATUS CHARACTERISTICS THEORY People with lower status who act like leaders are not perceived as competent because this behavior contradicts the other’s expectations.

25 SOCIAL ROLE THEORY Sex differences in social influence and other behaviors comes from the societal division of labor between the sexes Male roles require more agentic behavior, reflecting self-assertion and achievement Female roles are communal, reflecting concern for others and selflessness

26 BEHAVIORAL EXPECTATIONS Female Male Gentle Kind Supportive Expressive Affectionate Tactful Assertive Independent Competitive Daring Courageous

27 PERFORMANCE STANDARDS Women must still perform better to be considered equally competent Because men are perceived as more competent, it is easier for them to exert influence Female likeableness/tentativeness sometimes influences men more than competence


29 The Sense-Making Process Framing the Situation Past experiences influence our expectations. We scan for cues to confirm our expectations. We establish a frame for the situation. Making Attributions Who am I dealing with? What are their views toward women my age in my role? How competent do they think I am? What ’ s the “ ideal leader ” in this organization? Selecting a Script What behavior will be most effective In this context?

30 ARE WOMEN LEADERS STILL DANCING BACKWARDS IN 2003? Women hold less than 7% of top leadership positions in US business and have lower compensation, mobility and authority in 2002. In 2002, 15.7 % of corporate officers in the largest 500 US firms were women, up from 12.5% in 2000 and 8.7% in 1995. Women comprise 12.4% of the boards of Fortune 500 companies as of 2001.

31 What Prevents Women from Advancing to Corporate Leadership? 18% 35% 15% 49% 25% 52% 64% 29% 82% 47% 0%50%100% Female Executives CEOs Lack of significant general management or line experience Women not in pipeline long enough Male stereotyping and preconceptions Exclusion from informal networks Inhospitable corporate structure

32 TIPS FOR WOMEN LEADERS Figure out your natural leadership style and when it does and does not work Look for role models Expand your repertoire of leader behaviors Be honest with yourself Be positive – present solutions for problems

33 Leadership & Expectations Cultures and organizations have an image of the ideal leader. To be perceived as a successful leader, people must meet these expectations. Different expectations for women and men

34 WHY A WOMEN’S CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP? Help navigate mid-career rapids Provide mentoring opportunities perhaps missing at work Build a supportive network Focus on women’s unique challenges and differential career development “free to be me” rather than him

35 SUCCESSFUL CHANGE INITIATIVES Motivation and rationale linked to business strategy & profitability Support from highest levels Built-in communication plan linking best practices to business issues Built-in accountability mechanism so it’s more than a management fad

36 Women Intimacy Relationships/ equality Share credit Humble Questions as source of information Gender Differences in Communication Men Independence Being one up/not one down Take credit Confident Questions as loss of face

37 ...Gender Differences in Communication Women downplay certainty mitigate criticism with praise ritualistic apologies and compliments Men minimize doubts blunt feedback ritualistic fighting

38 Women Are More Likely To... Be interrupted when they speak Have their statements redefined by men Have their ideas attributed to men Be polite Use qualifiers Use intensifiers Frame orders as questions

39 DOES IT MATTER WHERE WOMEN WORK? Gender ratio of the industry Leadership Style Job Stress Mental Health

40 TOP WOMEN MANAGERS AS EXISTENTIAL LEADERS WHO Reconcile a concern for bottom-line results and people Focus on both ends and means Are good at both planning and communication Are “reality-based” and able to comprehend all aspects of existence

41 …THE BOTTOM LINE Perceptions about women’s effectiveness as leaders are mixed and conflicting Differences in subordinates’ perceptions of male and female leaders show up more in laboratory simulations than in real-life organizations -- ongoing relationships combat stereotypes

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