Are female leaders different from male leaders?
The answer, in short, is yes, although men and women are more alike than they are different.
The sex differences between male and female leadership behaviors, even though they are small, are significant enough that they have been the subject of many research studies. Despite this, some studies still show little gender difference.
The takeaway is that while women might be different than men in some small ways as leaders, they generally lead much in the same way men do overall.
That said, we can generalize and find ways in which women leaders might offer a different paradigm from traditional male leadership. Overall, it tends to be more cooperative, less controlling, and more team-oriented.
Looking at How Female Leaders are Different
Some researchers believe that female leadership differences might be due to “evolutionary pressures.” Some feminist scholars might argue that such differences are due to the socialization of women in a gender-based society. Whatever the cause, here are some of the ways female leadership is different:
1. Women Connect More with Others
In some studies, women have shown they make more eye contact with others as well as smile more. This can help with team building and motivation. On the negative side, if women are using these tendencies to try to win approval from others, it can hinder business success.
The challenge is that in co-ed meetings, women tend to be more silent where men tend to dominate the conversation. Women should learn how to interrupt and speak up more in group meetings with men.
2. Women Tend to Use a More Cooperative Leadership Style
Generally speaking, men are much more likely to use “command and control” as their main leadership style. While some women can employ that style as well, women tend towards cooperation in leadership. They try to encourage their team members to participate as co-leaders and forge their own paths, giving them more autonomy.
3. Women Tend to be More Modest
Men are much more likely to “self-brand” and brag about their accomplishments. Women as a whole tend to let others talk them up instead of doing it themselves. While modesty is a great trait in personal relationships, it can hurt when it comes to business.
Women are encouraged to “brand” themselves more openly and remind people of their skills and accomplishments so they can move up the corporate ladder.
4. Women Focus on Transformational Leadership
Transactional leadership is a type of leading that involves incentivizing hard work and penalizing failures.
Women tend towards a more transformational leadership style that encourages employees to find value in their contributions as a part of their sense of self-worth and accomplishment. This level of buy-in can increase employee loyalty as well as overall job satisfaction.
How to Be a Strong Female Leader
The bottom line is that women have lots of opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills, no matter whether they are more typically “female” or “male” behaviors. To be a strong leader, you should not worry so much about whether you are doing it the right “female” way. Be yourself, and work hard. Develop a vision and some goals. Then apply your talents and strengths to lead the way!