Male vs. Female Leadership


In the past, it was not so common for women to enter management positions in firms. Over the years, this has changed. Women apply for management jobs and are even encouraged to do so by society and firms themselves. These days, it is very common to have a proper mixture of both men and women in the managerial board of the firm. However, one might wonder what the implications are now that women can have leadership in a firm as well. In daily life, there are already quite some differences between men and women. Differences we cannot stop talking/nagging about. Personal characteristics are always one of the causes of effective leadership, such as a strong drive for responsibility, self-confidence and an ability to influence the behavior of others. Curious about the difference in gender effects on leadership? Explore it in this blog.

Males are more status-focused with their leadership. They exploit chances for individual advantages, to go “one up”, rather than for the overall improvement of a group. To accomplish this, they appear confident and knowledgeable. Male leaders are not very likely to express their moments of doubt. A man just takes charge, dominates and makes things happen.

fvsFemales are quite the opposite with their leadership, since they have more accommodative strategies to influence the overall group performance. They are more willing to express their doubt if this will improve the overall performance of all parties involved. Hence, women might appear as less confident and knowledgeable for leadership positions. Nonetheless, there are three aspects that female leaders can accomplish instead of male leaders: (1) women are more likely to take into account a wider range of stakeholders, (2) they are more persistent in getting answers to uncomfortable questions (as they express their doubt), and (3) they improve communications due to more collaboration between employees.

Despite these differences, one should note that both men and women can provide excellent leadership. Goleman (2000) created six leadership styles, each to be used in different situations. One can create the following distinction between male and female leaders based on those six leadership styles. Depending on the situation, either a male leader or female leader should be chosen for.




When to use

Type of leadership

Coercive style To demand compliance In a crisis, or if there are problems with employees Male Leadership
Authoritative style Move people to follow you Envision a new direction Male Leadership
Affiliative style Put people first (harmony and empathy) Motivate people, even under stress Female Leadership
Democratic style Ask the opinion of others To create collaboration and teambuilding Female Leadership
Pacesetting style Set the standards for others Motivate people to get fast and high results Male Leadership
Coaching style Develop others Improve the results and develop strengths of others Female Leadership

In conclusion, it is best to have a diverse management board. Males have qualities that females do not possess, and the other way around. Often enough, there is the problem of the so-called “glass ceiling”: an invisible barrier to entry for the leadership positions for women, though the Western society increasingly recognizes the importance of a diverse management board. Moreover, one should note that the distinctions made between gender effects on leadership style are just based on generalizations. There are always some other internal/external) influences on leadership style. First of all, in a male-dominated culture, women can experience a lot of stress and negative mental health by all the pressure they have to deal with (i.e. to prove their qualities). Second, the culture of a country also influences the leadership style. Social expectations are not to be underestimated. For example, some countries have more masculine leadership values whereas others have more social-development values. These social expectations will exist, no matter whether there is a male or female leader in the firm. By having the diverse management board, one can overcome the challenges of male and female leaders, as they will strengthen each other for the best leadership result.

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