Today, women have broken many leadership barriers, but one leadership position has eluded females for over two hundred years, the presidency of the United States. The following publication looks at the dynamics of gender and leadership. Men and women have long been believed to behave in different ways, and these differences have been a subject of interest or research.
Due to these documented gender-based differences, researchers subsequently moved to examine the different ways that men and women lead. Men have been described as leading in a hierarchical, top down fashion, where power was defined as authority they have over others. Women, however, have been described as being collaborative leaders, relying on interpersonal relationships, where power was defined by their ability to bring people together and establish consensus (Eclipse, 2005).
Interest in the impact of gender n leadership is relatively new, The first studies were conducted in the US in the early sass when male managers at nine insurance companies were asked to characterize women in general, men in general, and successful managers. Successful managers were overwhelmingly identified exclusively with male traits. Many similar studies have been carried out since that time and all have demonstrated that the successful managerial stereotype remains male (Vindictive, 1999). Women managers’ perceptions of the successful manager are only slightly less conclusive.
Unlike the women managers in the sass and sass not all female managers today sextets the successful manager as male; however, no one , male or female, ever identifies the successful manager as feminine. Male, and only to a slightly lesser extent, female, managers continue to describe successful managers as possessing masculine traits, such as self- confidence, competitiveness, decisiveness, aggressiveness and independence (Vindictive, 1999). According to Dee Norton, Women and men communicate most effectively when they understand the “invisible rules” to each gender.
The invisible rules” indicates that each gender is a “culture” in itself, raised with invisible conduct instinctively known to all adult members of that gender. Therefore, men and women behave according to two separate sets of rules about what “right” is. When we work with someone of the opposite gender and he or she something that seems strange, we often become intolerant and defensive. We do not realize that men and women are from different cultures, even if they are raised in the same homes, educated in the same schools, and live in the same country.
It is important to promote the best possible communication between men and women in the workplace. As we move between the male and female cultures, we sometimes have to behave to gain the best results from the situation. Clearly, successful organizations of the future are going to have leaders and team members understand, respect and apply the rules of gender culture appropriately (Norton). The most commonly encountered and extensively documented barriers for women seeking leadership positions are: gender stereotypes, inadequate support networks, and inflexible workplace structures.
The first of these obstacles involves stereotypical assumptions about women’s competence and commitment and the mismatch between qualities associated with leadership, such as decision making and delegating tasks, and qualities traditionally associated with women, such as consensus and intuitive understanding. The second barrier inadequate support networks, involves the absence of mentors and access to informal networks of advice, contacts, and client development. Due to inequalities of access between men and women for support networks, women need to develop effective support peer groups ND women mentors.
The final obstacle involves workplace structures that fail to accommodate family commitments. Since women bear a disproportionate share of household responsibilities, they pay a disproportionate price for this. This price is the low status and time-consuming, UN-rewarded work of family commitments, which frequently prevents women from advancing on the career path with men (Rhode, 2001). The most important factor in ensuring equal access to leadership opportunities is a commitment making this a priority, both arsenal and organizational.
Specific strategies include surveys that assess and monitor performance on gender, related issues; reassessment of leadership evaluation and selection structures; improvement in work-family and public service initiatives; and support mentoring, career development, and women’s network programs (Rhode, 2001 In my opinion there is no difference in leadership ability when it comes to males and females. I have had the pleasure of serving some great male and female leaders within the law enforcement field.
The key to their SUccess was how they communicated and worked collaboratively with their staff.