Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Women most effective leaders for today’s world

05.08.2003


Much has been written about the glass ceiling, the double standard and other barriers to women in management. A related question that has consumed both academic and popular writers is whether men and women have the same leadership abilities.

The answer suggested by a comprehensive meta-analysis published in the current Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 129, No. 3) might surprise you. On average, women in management positions are somewhat better leaders than men in equivalent positions, according to the study.

This project, "Transformational, Transactional and Laissez Faire Leadership Styles: a Meta-Analysis Comparing Women and Men," statistically combines the results of 45 published and unpublished studies on leaders in business, academics and other areas to examine whether the typical leadership styles of men and women differ.



"The meta-analysis revealed relatively small sex differences, which is to be expected since the men and women compared are in equivalent roles with relatively similar responsibilities," said Alice Eagly, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Northwestern University.

"Thus, the differences in male and female managerial behavior are in the discretionary aspects of behavior, because all managers have to carry out basic tasks required by their roles," she said. "Still, the implications of our findings are encouraging for female leadership when you consider that all aspects of leadership style on which women exceed men relate positively to effectiveness."

In addition to Eagly, the co-investigators of the study include Northwestern’s Mary C. Johannesen-Schmidt and Marloes L. van Engen, Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

The meta-analysis showed that women are more likely than men to use leadership styles that other studies have shown produce better worker performance and effectiveness in today’s world.

Specifically, women were more likely to be transformational leaders, defined as those who serve as role models, mentor and empower workers and encourage innovation even when the organization they lead is generally successful.

Eagly’s meta-analysis grows out of a substantial body of research that attempts to identify leadership styles that are especially attuned to contemporary conditions. Gaining momentum in the 1990s, that research showed that transformational leadership strengthens organizations by inspiring followers’ commitment and creativity.

Leadership researchers found that, in contrast, "transactional" leaders appeal to subordinates’ self-interest by forming exchange relationships, based on using reward and punishment as incentives. The researchers also distinguished a laissez faire style that is marked by an overall failure to take responsibility for managing.

In Eagly’s study, women also scored higher than men on one measure of transactional leadership -- rewarding employees for good performance.

"That is the only aspect of transactional leadership that is associated with positive outcomes," Eagly noted.

Men scored higher than women on the other transactional aspects, such as using punishment, and on laissez faire leadership -- behaviors that do not appear to produce more effective organizations.

"Giving women equal access to leadership roles obviously would increase the size of an organization’s pool of potential managers," Eagly said. "What people may not realize is that adding women to that pool likely increases the proportion of candidates with superior leadership skills."

In synthesizing the 45 leadership studies, the researchers conclude that the causes of the sex differences in leadership may lie in several factors.

A transformational leadership style may be especially congenial to women because this way of leading is relatively androgynous and has some nurturing, feminine aspects. A considerable body of research has shown that women can be disliked and distrusted in leadership roles, especially when they exert authority over men, appear to be extremely competent or use a dominant style of communication. Transformational behavior may lessen suspicion of female leaders and alleviate problems of lesser authority and legitimacy that they sometimes face.

Another reason women may favor a transformational style is that such a leader operates more like an excellent teacher than a traditional boss. Women’s past socialization may give them more ability to lead by teaching -- that is, by developing and nurturing workers’ abilities and inspiring them to be outstanding contributors.

And the glass ceiling itself may produce more highly skilled female leaders. Research shows that higher standards are often imposed on women to attain leadership roles and to retain them. Because transformational leadership constitutes skillful leadership, women may be more skillful leaders than men because they have to meet a higher standard.

Pat Vaughan Tremmel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nwu.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
01.08.2018 | Grand Valley State University

nachricht Diversity and education influence India’s population growth
31.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Interactive software tool makes complex mold design simple

16.08.2018 | Information Technology

Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor

16.08.2018 | Health and Medicine

Fraunhofer HHI develops next-generation quantum communications technology in the UNIQORN project

16.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>