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Leadership Styles: Men Vs. Women

Renuka Savant
Is it true that biology interferes with leadership skills? Opinions on this topic, at their very best remain divided, so we're doing a little investigation of our own. This is what we found out.
"If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."
- Margaret Thatcher
This remark shouldn't be seen as a nudge-nudge attempt to highlight the disparity between the leadership styles of men and women. On the contrary, it simply and subtly brings out the apparent differences of how men and women choose to handle leadership.
On the one hand, it would be deemed unfair to distinguish leadership styles on the basis of gender, when we'd rather focus on individuals. Having said that, there have been several studies which have suggested that men and women indeed operate in a different manner, keeping in line with their gender.
This disparity is attributed to the possibility that a woman's brain is "wired" differently than a man's, which leaves an obvious impression on the way these two execute their responsibilities. While their capabilities can never be pitted against each other, their manner of functioning does call for a comparison.

Leadership Styles: How are Men Different from Women?

Women seem to enjoy the role of mentors, and take pleasure in giving guidance. They also fare better when it comes to skills of persuasion, considering they possess some stellar "people skills".
As a whole, they tend to be empathetic to those working for them, and work well in areas of planning and organizing. This may perhaps hint towards the idea that women make better project managers.
Here is a list of qualities generally found in women in positions of power:
  • Persuasive
  • Good listeners
  • Good at multitasking
  • Socially sensitive
  • Flexibility during interactions
  • Assertive
  • Focus on details
Men, on the other hand, are often considered to be authoritative when it comes to handling their people. They are driven by performance, and make excellent task masters.
Men also happen to be forthright when it comes to expressing opinions, and are proficient at direct communication, sans subtlety. Strategic thinking is also a positive quality found in men.
Here is a list of qualities generally found in men in positions of power:
  • Aggressive
  • Strategic planners
  • Commercially focused
  • More result-oriented in comparison
  • Resilient

Why do Leadership Styles Differ?

"We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly."
-- Margaret Atwood
It is fairly clear that women leaders are more of an exception rather than the rule in the world as it stands today. Women are not considered to be as effective as men when it comes to marshaling the forces. Having touched upon the leadership styles of both, men and women, it is apparent that biology may not be the only factor behind these differences.
Let's spare a moment to reach the root of it all, which is examining the manner in which we bring up boys and girls. This is when they are taught how certain qualities are "manly", whereas others happen to be "girly".
Dominance, for instance, is seen as a perfectly acceptable boyish trait, but to spot it in a girl would only make her a rude person. How fair is it then, to expect men and women to mirror each others' style of leadership?
The presence of women in the workforce may be seeing a steady rise, but if we are to put a number on women in actual positions of power, it would be very insignificant indeed. Can it be attributed to the difference in the style of leadership? Or is it something far more deep-rooted than that? There's something for you to mull over.