Traditionally, society has told us that a leader should act a certain way dependent on their gender. A good male leader should be strong and unemotional. On the other hand, a female leader should be caring, and not overly assertive. But are these stereotypes actually based on anything substantive? Does adhering to those gender norms create better leaders?
A leader’s style often takes one of two approaches: masculine or feminine. But in order to lead effectively, leaders must balance these two approaches, rather than default to one or the other. Although men typically wear their self confidence on their sleeve, taking the feminine approach by letting actions demonstrate self-confidence can be just as powerful.
Research from Skyline, a company dedicated to providing scalable leadership development and coaching has found that people actually find both masculine and feminine expressions of leadership equally effective. One way is not better than the other, but there does need to be balance.
This information should help leaders balance their style by learning to recognize which approach is most effective in specific scenarios. For example, while it’s better to use the feminine approach to control emotions, using a masculine approach is most effective for strategy planning.
See: Views differ on leadership positions for women, survey finds
The Gender and Leadership Spectrum
Men and women agree that leadership skills exist on a continuum. People rate 70% masculine and feminine expression of leadership as equally effective.
Most Effective Feminine Leadership Traits that Men Could Learn
Some of the most effective feminine traits in leadership are:
- Exercise emotional control: When things get tense or out of control, female leaders acknowledge emotions and express them appropriately. However, since people’s expectations of male leaders are more masculine at times, they need to keep emotions under control and make decisions based on facts.
- Self-Confidence: In countries around the world including USA, men reported higher levels of self-esteem than women did. Although men are typically seen as more self-confident, women need to observe caution and not brag to showcase self-confidence.
- Conflict Resolution: 81% employees according to the study would rather join a company that encourages open communication, over trendy perks. 31% considered women in top positions to be ethical and honest than men. The feminine way of leadership in terms of conflict resolution is – when there is a problem, talk it out. Be open and work with employees to delve and find a solution to the problem. However being a male leader, you should allow employees to make their own case and let the best idea win.
- Creativity and Innovation: Female bosses outscored males in 11 of 12 engagement categories.. Women give fair consideration to the ideas shared in a team, listen actively and use their wisdom to create meaningful new ideas.
- Entrepreneurship: The feminine approach to entrepreneurship is to take the initiative, plan for different case scenarios, and make strategic investments where there are multiple paths to success.
Few Lessons for Women to Imbibe Masculine Leadership Traits
- Strategic Thinking: While persistent individuals stick to a plan to a fault, are willing to take extra costs and are over giving, if to opt for Plan B. A male leader deals with planning in a different light, using strategic thinking. He plans methodically 5 steps ahead, such that when things do not go as per the plan, you can easily move on to contingency plans with confidence.
- Be Assertive: Do ask employees for their thoughts and make requests with confidence.
- Power Differences: Women should not accept power differences in the organisation as the only way to affect change. Rather they should take into consideration the power differences and work within or outside boundaries.
- Challenge Assumptions: Women should challenge assumptions and explore new strategies without taking a direct detailed approach to driving results and meeting goals.
Key highlights from the findings are:
- It’s becoming more common for women to be business leaders. 98 million operate established businesses worldwide.
- 31% of people consider women in top positions in business to be more honest and ethical than men. Just 3% said the opposite.
- Female bosses outscored males in 11 of 12 engagement categories.
- However, females are still lacking confidence. In countries around the world, including the USA, men had higher levels of self-esteem than women did.
Current and future leaders should embrace both female and male strategies in the workplace to be able to strike an effective balanced leadership.
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